Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Loves Sweet Potato Pound Cake with Cinnamon Cream Glaze . . .

Its very name is wintery, don't you think? Though I'm sure I could easily be convinced to do so, at the moment I just can't picture myself biting into a piece of this cake in, say, the dog days of August, while the air conditioning is cranking away and all of the markets are brimming with fresh summer fruit. Some desserts seem to find their reason for existing only in the months ending in "er" or "ary" and clearly this is one of them.

In prowling around our bookshelves and, ultimately, the internet in search of the perfect sweet potato pound cake recipe, I contemplated a few possibilities. One promising candidate was from All Cakes Considered, by Melissa Gray. It looks great, but it contains apple pieces, nuts, and several spices. That all sounds tempting, but today I wanted to make something a little less fraught with competing flavors.

The two primary flavors in the cake that I did bake are simply sweet potato and fresh nutmeg, and the recipe that I settled on comes to us via Molly Wizenberg of Orangette. She adapted it from one that appears in the book Southern Cakes by Nancy McDermott. Molly's post about this cake appeared in her blog last winter in the fretful days just prior to the publication of her warm and funny memoir, A Homemade Life (see what I mean about it being a winter cake?).

Molly used a buttermilk glaze that needs to be cooked, but I've omitted that in favor of a more basic cinnamon cream glaze that's just stirred together. Of course, this is one of those cakes that doesn't really need adornment of any kind. Plain is good too. Sometimes plain is really, really good.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake with Cinnamon Cream Glaze

(For a printable copy of this recipe, click here!)

For the cake:

3 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk (lowfat is fine)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (Note from Jane: I only had two medium-sized potatoes on hand so, when mashed, that came out to barely 1 and 1/2 cups; I just went ahead and used that amount and it was fine.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10" tube or bundt pan with baking spray. If you don't have baking spray, do a really thorough job of greasing and flouring.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk well. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the sweet potatoes, and mix until the batter is combined. (The batter looks curdled, but that's okay!)

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Beat to just incorporate. Then add half of the milk mixture, and continue to beat on low until well blended. Add the remaining flour, followed by the remaining milk, and beat on low until the batter is thick and smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes (Note from Jane: Molly says "60 to 75 minutes," but my cake would have been badly overbaked if I'd left it in that long!) or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the edge to loosen the cake, and then carefully invert it onto the rack. Cool completely.


For the glaze:

1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar (or, if you hate sifting this stuff, just be sure to use Domino's 10X)
2 Tbsp. 1/2 and 1/2 
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine the confectioner's sugar, half and half, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir, and keep stirring, until the sugar is completely absorbed and the glaze is completely smooth.

Set a wire rack, with the cake atop it, over a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

* * * *
Now slice a little piece, sit down, and take a bite.

That's one groovy pound cake, isn't it?

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Snooky doodle said...

wow this cake looks awesome and that drizzle is fantastic ;)

Sheila said...

Beautiful cake! Maybe you aren't as averse to nuts in your cakes and sweet breads as I am, but I really appreciate this recipe not having nuts and letting the main ingredients shine.

Catherine said...

This sounds delicious!
Last night I just made a sweet potato pie that I will be posting soon!
I love the pictures, it all looks fabulous!

oneordinaryday said...

This cake looks lovely and sounds absolutely delicious.

Tiffiny Felix said...

Love, love, love sweet potato baked into stuff! And beautiful pictures :)

TasteStopping said...

I am convinced that sweet potatoes are a super food. Not only do they pack a nutritional punch, but they are so extremely versatile in baked goods. We put them in pancakes and biscuits, and now you've made an excellent case for this cake. And I agree, with the "wintery" flavor profile (sweet potatoes and nutmeg) it is a cool weather cake.

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


Jane said...

Hi Snooky, There's nothing like a good drizzle, don't you think?

:) Jane

Hello Sheila! I couldn't agree more about letting the main ingredients shine. Visited your blog yesterday and it's beautiful! Thanks for stopping by,

Hi Catherine,
Can't wait to see your pie post!
I have never made an SP pie, but would like to do so someday. What a great veggie!
:) Jane

Hi OneOrdinaryDay-- Many thanks!
Warmly, Jane

Hello Tiffany, Thank you very much! I am so pleased to hear you like the photos. I've been trying to work on them since we got a new DSLR camera at Christmas time, and I feel encouraged by it!
:) Jane

Hi Casey,
What a cool concept TasteStopping is! I spent some time there this evening and it looks like fun! Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention and inviting me to submit rejected photos! Ha! There are so many to choose from . . .


Kate at Serendipity said...

This is stunningly beautiful. I love the way you've done the glaze. Pound cake is such a classic, and adding sweet potatoes to it is pure genius!

Unknown said...

I must suck at experimenting with baked stuff, because I have never even tried a sweet potato anything.. But if this cake is anything to go by, it looks like I've been missing out!

~~louise~~ said...

One groovy pound cake, indeed!!! I love that your recipe doesn't contain cinnamon. As much as I adore cinnamon, it hints of pumpkin to me. Creamy mashed sweet potatoes with just enough nutmeg, now that's speaks January winter to me. Save the Pumpkin Pound Cake for Fall. (which I also adore:)

Thanks for sharing, Jane.

Kris Ngoei said...

Love the pattern the glaze creates on top of the cake. Simply beautiful!

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Jane said...

Hi Kate, I am flattered that you think so! Many thanks . . . Jane

Hello there, Avanika! Well, I'd never even considered using sweet potato in a cake until I saw that first recipe that I mentioned in the post. But I think the potato added a lot of body and moisture to the cake, along with a nice flavor dimension. Thanks for visiting again! -- Jane

Hi Louise,
Yes, I know just what you mean about the cinnamon and the pumpkin! I have a can of pumpkin languishing about in my cupboard, but I can't seem to bring myself to use it! I just don't want to dial the calendar back to Nov/December, you know what I mean? It'll just have to keep languishing. :) Jane

Dear Sawadee, You are sweet to say so! Many thanks! Warmly, Jane

Deana Sidney said...

sweet potato poundcake... how good is that... really great recipe and good for you too!!!

Jackie said...


What are the measurements for the glaze.

shandre said...

hi i made this cake today for thanksgiving, it was very simple to make. for my glaze i used heavy whipping cream instead of half and half so it came out more like a cream then a glaze, but when i put it on it looked like a glaze! i can't wait to taste it tomorrow (thanksgiving)and it smells so good! thanks for this recipe can't wait to hear what my family says!!

Unknown said...

This cake was absolutely delicious. I by-passed on the cinnamon cream glaze though. It is good I'm sure, but I decided to use a rum caramel to glaze mine with and drizzle on the cake when served. It was an absolute winner too.

sharon said...

as fall approaches, i'm thinking of trying this cake since i love sweet potatoes. Jane, did you just bake the sweet potatoes and remove the pulp? you can boil sweet potatoes, too, although I never have. Thanks

storm indigo said...

Hi, I got this recipe from Southern Cakes as well. I have made it twice. It is always a favorite. I added 1 t. cinnamon to the cake and made a plain glaze. awesome.

Unknown said...

Hello, my daughter asked about a sweet potato pound cake and she found your recipe. I actually used cake flour instead of the AP flour and this recipe is quite amazing. I also put crushed walnuts at the bottom of the pan, pour the mixture on top of it, I also made the glaze it brings this cake to a whole new level and WOW I truly love this recipe. I can't wait until my family tastes it, they will become a fan like my daughter and I are.