What would you make with two hours’ notice?
It would have been easy to punch the on-hand ingredients into google, but instead, my mom scanned through recipe clippings and a pile of magazines with an intense fervor. As the clock counted down the two hours, she scurried around the kitchen, grating with all her might, mixing and multitasking. Like a reality cooking show challenge, she revealed the final spread with but minutes to spare. Then the mayhem descended.
Six adults and six children arrived with appetites, their chaotic energy swarming around them like dirt around Pig Pen. Their focus was on the general nonsense that accompanies a gaggle of children gathered around a dinner table and on the pizza bake before them (a deep-dish, lasagna-like pizza bake with cheese and potatoes and saucy goodness!). In the chaos, one child lingered rather awkwardly.
A friend of a nephew, he lacked the aggressive swarm factor of my family members. My mom’s gaze oscillated between the food spread and the boy with equal concern. She approached him quietly and asked if he needed a plate. No one noticed but me. but I sat quietly appreciating this woman, my mother, who has always been a shining example of thoughtfulness, selflessness and hospitality. My mom is the reason I bake for others. She’s the reason I believe in making others feel special, especially when it comes to birthdays. Birthdays and celebrations call for Sweet Potato Layer Cakes! Who will you celebrate?
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Layer Cake
About This Recipe: Light and spongey, this layer cake has sweet potato and spices in the cake, in a syrup infusion and in a lightly sweetened frosting. Graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon sticks easily add a special touch to the layers. To make the sweet potato puree, simply boil sweet potato chunks until soft, then blend until smooth in a food processor. Alternately, you can use an organic canned version.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Layer Cake
melted organic coconut oil for pan
2 1/3 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
2 1/4 cup sweet potato purée
2 cups organic sunflower oil or olive oil
2 cups organic raw cane sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 large eggs, separated (organic/local/cage-free)
Sweet Potato Spice Syrup (recipe below)
Sweet Potato Ricotta Frosting (recipe below)
organic cinnamon graham crackers
Preheat your oven to 325 °F and grease three springform cake pans with coconut oil. Set aside.
Note: I used a 9”, 7” and 6” pan to create the tiered effect. Alternately, you could make three, thinner 9-inch layers.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together sweet potato puree, oil, sugar and salt.
Using your paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until fully mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the dry ingredients to your batter in three increments, scraping down the bowl with a spatula each time
In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
Fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter until fully incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
Pour your batter into your prepared cake pans, smooth out the top and bake in the middle of your oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Place on a wire rack to cool. After 5-10 minutes, run a knife along the edges of the cake pan to loosen the edges. Release and remove the cake from the side of the pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Sweet Potato Spice Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup organic coconut palm sugar (or organic brown sugar)
3 Tablespoons sweet potato purée
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
In a small sauce pot, combine your water and sugars.
Over medium-high heat, stir until the sugars are totally dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium, and add in your pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine, and continue stirring until the pumpkin is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sweet Potato Ricotta Frosting
3/4 cup organic heavy whipping cream, chilled
16 oz organic ricotta cheese
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Add the ricotta cheese, sweet potato puree, maple syrup and vanilla. Beat until everything is incorporated and smooth.
Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until incorporated.
Assembly & Garnish
Invert the largest cake onto a serving plate, and use a serrated knife to remove the bottom of the cake pan.
Spread a generous amount of the Spice Syrup over the surface of the cake. Use a brush to spread the syrup evenly, and poke holes in the cake as necessary, so the syrup sinks into the cake.
Dollop frosting onto the cake surface. Use an offset spatula and a lazy susan to even out the frosting.
Add the second layer of cake and repeat.
Add the top layer of cake and repeat.
Spread a thin layer of frosting on the sides of the cake.
Garnish with cinnamon sticks and graham cracker crumbs. Keep refrigerated until frosting is set.
Hint: You can chill the cake in the freezer in between layers to set the icing more in between adding layers.
This Post Has 10 Comments
What a sweet story of your mother’s accommodation, and a beautiful cake–a masterpiece in only two hours! My whole family would probably be the laggy sort, though I wish we all had a bit more of that energy and “aggressive swarm factor”!
Thank you! They’re all pretty young yet, so over time, the laggy energy will probably set in. 😉
I love those calendula sage scones you made- how pretty!
This looks like a delicious and quite unusual cake. 🙂 I’ve put beetroot and zucchini into cakes before (not combined), but never sweet potato. Did you make the sweet potato puree yourself?
I did- just a simple boil and food processor routine…and I meant to add a note about that. I’ll have to update. I’ve also seen an organic sweet potato puree at Whole Foods. Pumpkin puree would work too, but I like to shake up the gourds a bit. 🙂
This does look very interesting! I’m sure it must taste delicious 🙂 I’ve never seen anything like it so I’ve pinned it in hopes of trying it some day.. Thanks Quelcy! 🙂
I hope you do! Unfortunately, I only had one slice, as it was a birthday gift, but it was one of my favorite cakes I’ve made in a while. If only I had had seconds. 😉
Well, of course you can make it again! 🙂
Pingback: What's dishing on the blogs: Meat and seafood – Pittsburgh Post | FoodWidget
Pingback: What's dishing on the blogs: Meat and seafood – Pittsburgh Post | HealthCookware
I love sweet potato, so this cake sounds amazing! Love the sweet potato frosting too, so creative 🙂