Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

Something exciting happened to me last week.

More exciting than usual, I mean. And when I say "usual", I think we both know that I mean watching 90's TV shows on Netflix and making iPhone videos of my dog.

Anyway. The exciting thing: my friend asked me to make a cake for her sister's wedding reception! I was shocked, honestly. And flattered. Even though I bake all the time and constantly barrage my Facebook friends with pictures of said baked goods, it never occurred to me that someone would actually want me to make something for a legitimate social occasion.

I was tempted to say no at first. I mean, it had only been two weeks since I had finally accomplished my new year's resolution to successfully assemble and frost a layer cake for the first time. But I didn't say no. I said yes. And as much as I hate complimenting myself, I have to say that I'm pretty proud of how it turned out:

I think I could have spent all of eternity trying to make the frosting completely smooth on the top and sides. Never going to happen.

After working so hard to make this cake perfect, I wasn't in the mood to make anything complicated this week. I just wanted something simple. Something that tasted like fall. Something that I could put brown sugar frosting on. Obviously.

Something = sweet potato spice cake.

The only time I really eat sweet potatoes is at Thanksgiving. Candied sweet potatoes, specifically. The potato part of which, let's face it, is just a vessel for brown sugar. Kind of like this cake.

The flavor of the sweet potatoes is very subtle once the cake is baked, but it pairs perfectly with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice that really give this cake its flavor. In my opinion, this cake tastes best slightly chilled. The brown sugar frosting, although completely delicious, can be overwhelmingly sweet at room temperature.

Then again, maybe you like that kind of thing. Do what feels right.

And yes... I do normally eat cake right next to my living room window. With pine cones nearby.

Sweet Potato Spice Cake
Adapted from Epicurious

3-4 sweet potatoes
2 & 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Microwave on high for about 16 minutes, turning the potatoes over halfway through. All the potatoes to cool, then peel and mash them.

2. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Generously coat a 13x9-inch pan with nonstick spray. 

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Measure out 2 cups (about 15 oz) of mashed sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Add the sugar and vegetable oil to the sweet potatoes and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. 

4. Add the eggs to the sweet potato mixture two at a time, mixing well after each. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; mix just until combined. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Brown Sugar Buttercream
Adapted from Food Network

This recipe will make quite a bit more frosting than you'll need for this cake, so feel free to halve it. You know, unless you trust yourself enough to feel comfortable having a bunch of extra brown sugar frosting around the house.

3 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar

1. In a microwave-safe container, whisk together 1 cup butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla. Microwave in one to two minute intervals until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly. Allow to cool completely.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the remaining 2 cups of butter for about two minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the of the cooled brown sugar mixture and beat one minute more. With the mixer running on low speed, add the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

P.S. Did you notice the new page I added called "How to Measure"? It's there to help you convert volumetric measurements to weight measurements! Trust me, all the cool kids are doing it.

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  1. Sweet potato spice cake & brown sugar buttercream! Genius where on earth did the inspiration come from?

  2. Congratulations! That cake looks amazing! :) The color you used and I would say it looks pretty-dem-smooth to me! :) Once again, happy for you!