Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Cake

Say whaaaat?!?!  Yes, sweet potato cake.  Not pie, not soufflé and no melted mini marshmallows here.  By-golly, it is super yummy too!

A friend of a friend gave me three very large sweet potatoes out of his garden.  My first thought was to make sweet potato pie.  I make a great sweet potato pie and it has been five years since I made one.  It was well over due.  I bought all the ingredients necessary to make some out-of-this-world sweet potato pies and I was just waiting until the weekend to make them.

Then the weekend comes and I peel, slice, and steam the sweet potatoes in the oven.  I then run my stick blender through them to puree them until creamy.  After all this, I did not want to make pie.  I wanted something different.  I wanted cake!

I thought about it intuitively.  People make pumpkin cake; I have seen pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie; sweet potato is like pumpkin; therefore, I think sweet potato cake would work.  I was randomly looking through one of my baking books, and there was a recipe for sweet potato cake by Warren Brown.  (You know Mr. Brown, the George Washington law graduate, turned attorney, turned baker, turned owner of several Cake Love bakeries all over the greater DC Area.  Yes, I am intrigued by his story.)  Who would have known that a sweet potato cake recipe existed?

The problem came however when I went to the fridge to pull out the ingredients.  I only had two eggs.  Mr. Brown’s recipe called for three egg yolks (plus 2 eggs).  At that moment, a last minute trip to the grocery store was not possible.  What to do?  I refused to give up on my sweet potato cake.  By now, I was jonesing (definition: to have a strong need, desire, or craving for something) for it.

I searched the internet, looking for another sweet potato cake recipe that did not call for more than 2 (or 3) eggs.   I finally found one, and actually liked it better than Mr. Brown’s recipe.  Sorry, Mr. Brown, I will try one of you delicious recipes next time (legal disclaimer: by next time, I mean next time or at some other point in the near future, of which I disclaim, renounce, and do not subscribe to any definition or semblance to the colloquial, legal, or any other understanding of the definition and usage of the words “next,” “time,” “near,” and/or “future” :-). 

The new recipe required fewer eggs, but also had a lot of add-ins I did not want to use.  I also substituted some of the ingredients for ones I thought would be better.  In the end, my recipe is loosely based off the one on from

Now after that super long back story, lets chat about the cake itself.  Please excuse me as I wipe drool off the key board.  Yup, that’s how good it was!  This cake has the distinct taste of sweet potato, there is no masking it and you will not confuse it for pumpkin.  It also has delicate and palate-pleasing spice flavors from the traditional sweet potato pie spices.  Forget angel food cake; this is the cake they are serving in heaven.

I ate my cake plain, but served it up cake-in-a-jar style with a tangy cream cheese frosting and candied ginger and pecan pieces between the layers for a flavor burst and texture.  This cake would be perfect for a layer cake with frosting, or a bundt cake plain or with glaze.  You cannot go wrong with this cake… seriously.

Sweet Potato Cake

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 TBS Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp All Spice
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
15oz (by weight) Sweet Potatoes (pureed)
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (or more Granulated Sugar)
3 Eggs
1 TBS Vanilla
1 cup (2 sticks) Melted Butter (cooled, but still liquid)
1/2 cup water

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl combine sweet potatoes and sugar. Add eggs, butter, and water separately, mixing each until combined.

4. Mix flour mixture into sweet potato mixture, stirring until combined.

5. Pour batter into a 9x13 inch pan prepared with flour pan spray and parchment paper (or any way you choose). I use this size to cut circles for cake in a jar. Try other pan sizes and shapes for different style cakes.

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Until the cake is browning, slightly pulls away from the sides, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

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