Sweet on Sweet Potatoes November 21, 2009
Texas sweet potatoes are on sale this week (through Tuesday) at HEB for only 19¢ a pound. I got mine’s!
I don’t know how anybody can eat that marshmallow-coiffed concoction, by the way—a Thanksgiving standard, I know. But there are so many delicious and respectful ways to handle a sweet potato, that to me, to mash up such a farce is to commit an injustice to this most tasty and nutritious of vegetables. I don’t usually go turning my nose up at tradition (well, actually, I guess I mostly do), but as much as I enjoy sweet potatoes, I can’t eat that casserole. And I love casseroles. And marshmallows!
I am sweet on sweet potatoes, I insist. So get your dessert on!
SPIRITED SWEET POTATO CAKE: makes one 10″ layer
- 252 grams (1 cup) mashed Texas sweet potato
- 2 local eggs
- 150 grams (¾ cup) organic sugar. Central Market’s Organics two-pound bag is still $2.99.
- 52 grams (¼ cup) organic light brown sugar. I buy CM Organics two-pound bag for $2.99.
- ¼ teaspoon salt. I use Real Salt. You can purchase this in bulk at Whole Foods. Bring your own container and have them tare the weight at the info desk.
- ½ cup neutral flavored 0rganic oil or pecan oil
- 3/8 cup yogurt. I use homemade.
- 2 Tablespoons dark rum or homemade vanilla rum, or your favorite bourbon (or homemade vanilla bourbon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or an additional teaspoon of homemade vanilla booze
- 1 Tablespoon Texas orange zest. Use a rasp or your box grater.
- 182 gams (1 ½ cups) organic all-purpose flour. WF 365 brand usually sells for the best price.
- ½ teaspoon baking powder, sieved. I recommend Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
- ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ cup toasted chopped Texas pecans. You’ll find the new crop at our farmers markets now. Or check out Navidad Farms on your way to the Austin Zoo.
The weather’s just right for turning up the heat, so set your oven to 350º and get it goin’.
Line a 10″ X 2″ round cake pan with parchment or waxed paper and grease and flour the interior. I advise using a baking strip for this larger layer. If you don’t have one, check out this cute tutorial on DIY strips. I also recommend using a new technique I learned recently from Beranbaum‘s Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Place a greased rose nail pointy end up (flat end touching the bottom of the pan) in the center of the batter to conduct heat to the middle and help the cake bake more evenly. Genius! If your kitchen lacks these helpful tools, just mound the batter up around the sides of the pan a bit so the center is shallower. That will help.
Mixing up the batter is more straightforward. First, whisk together your dry ingredients (flour through the nutmeg) in a bowl and set aside. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (my preference) or a hand mixer, break up the eggs and then whip them up on medium high speed with the sugar and salt for a couple minutes, until very light in color and fluffy. Quickly beat in the sweet potato, then beat in the wet ingredients and zest. Add the dry ingredients and mix them in, pouring in the pecans as you go. Give the batter a final blending with your flexible spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, and turn the mixture out into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done—stick a bamboo skewer or toothpick between the rose nail and the sides of the pan, slightly closer to the rose nail. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a butter knife or metal spatula and unmolding. Push out the rose nail from the bottom. If batter collected underneath the flat end, carefully peel the thin cake piece off and either replace it onto the baked layer or eat it. You can disguise that shallow pock with icing or just let it be. Depends on the occasion!
I can eat this cake (and practically anything else) with butter, but you’ll find a range of glazes and frostings to be complementary. From a quick lemon juice/powdered sugar icing (perfect this time of year), to a vanilla or orange buttercream or cream cheese frosting, or even a light chocolate glaze or ganache. Savory to dulcet, marvel at the endless versatility of Texas sweet potatoes!