Sweet Potato Cake

With the fall season upon us, we begin to crave warm, inviting flavors, filled with spices. If you find yourself searching for a perfectly spiced cake but with not-so-ordinary ingredients, take a stroll down Main Street in Edwardsville, Illinois to Sacred Grounds Cafe, where owner Jenn Courtney has been baking for the past 15 years.

Courtney's sweet potato cake is the vegetarian cafe's can't-miss item, offered as a small bundt cake and topped with a brown sugar frosting. To create the moist cake, "sweet potatoes are peeled then chopped and boiled," Courtney explains. "Roasting seems like it would be a good option, too."

She then mashes the cooked potatoes before incorporating them into the batter. The sweet potatoes, along with ground cinnamon and ginger, create a spiced cake that is an ideal accompaniment to your cup of coffee.

 Courtney does all of the baking at Sacred Grounds Cafe, beginning between 4 and 5 o'clock each morning. "I first learned how to bake from my grandmother," she says. "But a lot of my baking education has come from just doing it." 

You can buy Courtney's small sweet potato cakes at Sacred Grounds year-round, seven days a week — or you can easily make the cake at home. Courtney prefers using smaller bundt pans for 12 individual servings, but the recipe can also be made in one large bundt pan.

Sweet Potato Cake

Yields | 1 large or 12 small bundt cakes |

Cake

  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • splash vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Frosting

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

| Preparation – Cake | Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour bundt pan(s). Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices and set aside.

In large bowl, whisk sugars and butter together until creamy. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and continue whisking. Whisk in the eggs, two at a time.  Add a splash of vanilla and whisk until combined.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, just until combined. Spoon or scrape batter into prepared pan(s) and place in oven.

Bake until cake springs back when touched. For smaller bundt pans, this takes approximately 15-20 minutes. For larger pan, begin checking at around 30 minutes.

Take out of oven and when cool, remove cake(s) from pan(s).

| Preparation – Frosting |  In a saucepan, heat heavy cream, brown sugar and butter. Simmer for about 3 minutes and then remove from heat. In a small bowl, sift 1 cup of powdered sugar. Then, pour the hot brown sugar mixture on top of the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spoon over top of the cake(s) and serve.

Sacred Grounds Cafe, 233 N. Main St., Edwardsville, Illinois, 618.692.4150, facebook.com/sacredgroundscafeedwardsville

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Anna Beck is a lawyer, food blogger and a St. Louis contributing writer for Feast Magazine.

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