We threw a blowout, knock-down housewarming party a couple weekends ago (obviously belated, since we bought the house in March). I want to write about the party more another time, mostly because I cooked pumpkin soup INSIDE OF A PUMPKIN. But that’s beside the point. Today I want to talk about sweet potatoes.
My friend Kevin, who I mention quite a bit here because he is a hardworking farmer and all-around nice guy, showed up at our party with a big bag of carrots and an enormous quantity of gorgeous sweet potatoes as a gift. (This is why is it good to have friends who are veggie farmers.) I like sweet potatoes. But I also tiptoe around them a bit, because I live south of the Mason-Dixon line, where people—generally wonderful people who I respect and enjoy—like to tart them up with brown sugar or maple syrup and pie spices and marshmallows and call it a Thanksgiving side dish. We will not discuss this any longer for fear that I’ll offend someone.
When sweet potatoes show up in such quantity, though, you can no longer afford to tiptoe. I cooked sweet potatoes every night for dinner for a week, stirring them into soups, cubing them into curries, and baking and loading them with herbs and onions and bacon, but I still hadn’t made much of a dent. Two people, it turns out, don’t eat very many sweet potatoes at a time. So when I put the plea out to the Internet, a nice person emailed me to set me straight: You need to make cake, she said.
After a first loaf cake, I was hooked, and started pouring sweet potato cake batter into every type of cake pan I owned. In some ways, sweet potato acts a lot like a winter squash or pumpkin in a quick bread (similar to this recipe), helping create a dense, moist crumb, but the roasted sweet potato offers a flavor that’s a bit more caramelly and less vegetal. The Epicurious recipe I worked with proved pretty amenable to doubling and tripling, and cakes like these make good contributions to the freezer for easy defrosting later. Almost every recipe I found included icing, but I forwent it. We liked the cake best served warm with a pat of good salted butter.
Sweet potato cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious
The original recipe calls for dried powdered ginger but I used fresh and then candied when I ran out; you are welcome to substitute in dried powdered ginger if that’s what you have
- 2 pounds of sweet potatoes (err on the side of too much; you can save the extra roasted mashed sweet potatoes and freeze them)
- Oil or butter for greasing the pan
- 1 cup neutral vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger or chopped candied ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Roast directly on the oven rack until very tender, about 1 hour. Cool and halve the potatoes, then scoop out the soft flesh from the skins, place in a bowl, and mash it. Measure out two full cups of the mashed sweet potato.
- Lower the oven temperature to 325°F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan OR 2 loaf pans or 2 muffin pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, and oil. Beat until smooth. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl, and beat until just until blended.
- Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan or smooth the top to settle the batter.
- Bake until a tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes for a Bundt cake or loaf cake, and about 40 minutes for muffins, checking for doneness halfway through.
- Cool the cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. For Bundt and loaf cake, cut around sides of pan with a small knife to loosen. Turn out onto the rack and cool completely.