Perhaps it goes without saying, but my friends are lucky to have me. JUST KIDDING. It’s mutually beneficial.
I don’t know if there’s any explanation for this, but it seems as though there are a lot of birthdays in late winter/early spring. That might just be because I am a late-summer baby (i.e. I watched all my friends go to bars last summer while I waited until September to 21, not that I’m bitter or anything), but regardless of my perceptions, I have made four birthday cakes in the last two weeks. I’m not complaining, because I love baking and they were all for good friends who deserved great birthday cakes, but I have to say, I went through a s**t ton of butter and flour. [Sidenote: Grandma, the KitchenAid was truly the best birthday gift- my left arm really appreciates it, and no I did not just curse on my blog]
This (momentarily) final cake was somewhat anti-climactic: after three really fantastic new cake recipes, this one fell a bit short of wow. To be fair, this cake is light and moist, with a nice spice to it. However, it has you roast and puree a sweet potato, when the end result is barely discernible from pumpkin. I had pumpkin in my fridge! Oh well.My housemate Tiffany is pretty odd in general, but her taste (or lack thereof) in food has got to be one of the weirdest I’ve ever encountered. She cares surprisingly little about how the food she eats tastes, and the few things she actually likes are things like pineapple pizza, pickles and chicken feet (her list, not mine).
So when planning her birthday cake, I considered it a challenge to find one that would actually excite her. I sat her down in our kitchen for a pseudo-consult of my cookbooks, and book after book, I got nothing. Cakes most people would fawn or freak out over, Tiffany couldn’t care less about. Just as I was about to give up, I flipped past this cake recipe and Tiff let out the most shocking howl/scream/screech I have ever heard come out of her, which is saying something, because she shouts a lot. The girl freaked out over a sweet potato?!? I did not get it, and I still don’t, but her reaction to the recipe alone made it completely worth it. [As indicated by the photo above, she ate the leftover puree out of the container like it was baby food]
So it ended up a nice enough cake, though I’ll admit it’s not one I’ll likely make unless explicitly requested. However, if you do know someone who loves sweet potatoes as much as this girl, it may be worth it.
Sweet Potato Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from (yet again) Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Makes a 9-inch triple layer cake, serves 16-20 people
2 medium or 1 large sweet potato (12 ounces)
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
5 eggs, separated
2 1/4 cups of sugar, divided
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/4 cups of milk
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the sweet potatoes in 2-3 places, place on a small baking dish and bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are very soft. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and the sides of the pans and line with parchment paper.
- When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove any dark spots. Cut the potatoes into chunks and puree in a food processors. Puree until smooth. Measure out one cup of potato puree and set aside. [Optional: Give the rest to the sweet potato-obsessed birthday girl and take an embarrassing photo of her as she eats her baby food]
- Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Set aside.
- In the bowl of electric mixer, whip the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Raise the speed to high and gradually beat in 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue to beat until the egg whites are moderately stiff.
- In another large bowl with the paddle attachment, combine the sweet potato, butter, vanilla, and remaining sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl after each egg yolk is added. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the milk in 2-3 additions, making sure to begin and end with the dry ingredients.
- With a large spatula, fold in one fourth of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Then fold in the remaining egg whites until no streaks remain. Making sure to not over mix or this will deflate the batter. Divide the batter among of the three pans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then turn out the cake layers onto a wire rack and cool completely at least 1 hour.
- To assemble the cake, place one layer flat side up on to a cake stand and spread 2/3 cup of the frosting. Place the second layer (flat side up) on top and repeat. Place the final layer on top and use the remaining icing to frost the top and sides of the cake. [I opted to not ice the sides and put more frosting in between the cake layers.]
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium until light and fluffy.
- Lower the mixer speed and gradually add in the sugar, one cup at a time.