Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Pretty Sweet (Potato) Cake for Thanksgiving!

Woohoo! Thanksgiving break is finally here and my bags are already packed for the long weekend of great food n' family ahead. Still, I just couldn't duck out without sharing one more fun, festive fall dessert for any of you still needing a last-minute Thanksgiving dessert.
Happy Thanksgiving!
I love sweet potatoes in just about any form. And I'm betting that many of you feel the same...especially around this time of year! Which is why I simply couldn't resist making this richly flavored sweet potato cake this Thanksgiving. You'll love how quickly this comes together. Plus it only dirties up a bowl and measuring cup. It's also quite friendly to guests on restrictive diets, since the cake is already egg and dairy-free. If any dairy is an issue, simply swap dairy substitutes into the frosting to make this a welcome Thanksgiving dessert for all =).

P.S. - I want to thank Oh Nuts! for the wonderful Jumbo Raw Georgia pecans they sent me for free to use in my holiday baking. These pecans were so fresh and yummy. I sampled one as I was measuring them out for this cake and ended up eating so many I had to get more for the recipe O:-). They're big, as the name suggests, and have a wonderful subtle sweetness that made them downright addictive.

Mini Sweet Potato Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting [Printable Recipe] [Printable Recipe][
Cake adapted from VegNews; frosting method adapted from Sweet Indulgences Cakes
Makes one 6-inch 2-layer cake

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I labeled this post "vegan" due to the cake recipe being egg and dairy-free. The cream cheese frosting clearly does have dairy, but you can probably use vegan versions to make the entire dessert vegan. To make an 8 or 9-inch 2-layer cake, simply double this recipe, divide batter evenly between two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans, and bake slightly longer (about 30 to 35 minutes). I downloaded this free topper from Catch My Party.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour [all purpose is also fine]
3/4 cup MINUS 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp sweet potato purée (I used organic canned 100% sweet potato purée)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe below)
3 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
2 Tbsp pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped [I highly recommend these]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 6-inch pans with butter, then line with parchment rounds cut to fit the pans. Sift together pastry flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk sweet potato purée, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla together until evenly combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk just until you have a smooth batter.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer from cake pans to wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Lightly brush cooled cake layers to remove loose crumbs. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of cake layers if they domed during baking. To assemble cake, place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting evenly over first layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut flakes and chopped pecans. Place remaining cake layer on top. Frost the sides and top of the layer cake with frosting, as desired.

To frost your cake to have the petal effect mine does, you'll want to start off by using a large spatula (preferable an offset one) to frosting the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (this is the crumb coat to prevent crumbs from coming up while you apply the outer layer and also to give the outer decorations a uniform surface to adhere to). The frosting on top of the cake should be thick enough to prevent any cake color from showing through; this is important since we'll be adding more frosting to the sides only and not to the top. Now chill the cake in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes. Cover and keep the frosting moderately cool as well during this time.

Fit a piping bag with a medium round tip (I used Wilton #12) and pipe a vertical row of dots on your cake. Take the edge of a small spatula (you need one about the same width or slightly more narrow than the dots you're piping) and gently drag the frosting horizontally for each dot, scraping the frosting off the spatula after each drag. Repeat this process, slightly overlapping each new column over the tails of the previous column. The last column will look a different from the others, but simply position your final cake so that side faces the back and it shouldn't be a problem :). For a tutorial with photos of the decorating process, click here.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, unsifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese, cool room temperature and cut into 6 to 8 chunks

Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly blended and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, a chunk at a time, beating after each addition (just enough to work it in until it’s nearly smooth). Taste the frosting, adding and beating in more sugar if needed. Finally, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 1 minute until smooth. Turn speed down to low and mix for several more minutes. Since this method beats a lot of air into the frosting, you will need to stir the finished frosting to break the air bubbles.


  1. Oh wow! This is looking really good! Totally loving it!

  2. wow! That is one nice looking cake!

  3. I will have to give these swirls a try someday, but THE ONE I', in love with are your ruffled cupcakes....

  4. I will try my ass off to get the same frosting as yoursss!
    I love steamed sweet potatoe ^__^ so country & delicious!
    Have a nice Thanksgiving :)


  5. Great recipe, I love the idea of spicy cake and the beautiful cream-cheese frosting! Perfect!

  6. So prettily decorated! A wonderful cake.

    Happy Thanksgiving!



  7. Happy Thanksgiving!

    I did not fancy sweet potatoes when I was a kid but now, I am learning to appreciate them.

  8. very pretty cake! happy thanksgiving xiaolu!

  9. Beautiful - perfect for a celebration!

  10. I absolutely adore sweet potatoes but haven't tried making a dessert out of them. This looks like a great recipe to start with—I'm totally down with a vegan cake covered in real cream cheese. Yum.

  11. Very beautiful cake Xiaolu
    Wishing you Happy Thanksgiving :)

  12. Sweet potato from a can!! How daft. We call it Kumara here in New Zealand, it's one of our native vegetables, any New Zealander would look at you in horror if you suggested Kumara from a can! Sounds like a nice moist cake though :) I hope your friends enjoy and appreciate it.

  13. Thanks, everyone!

    Delacasa - I appreciate your honest reaction haha. To be honest this is my 1st time using sweet potato from the can, too. I think with this, like with canned pumpkin, an advantage of the canned version is consistency in texture, moisture content (key for sensitive cake recipes), and flavor. However I did taste some of the canned stuff and wasn't super impressed by the flavor. May use home-mashed next time :).

  14. Love me some sweet potato, I had some last night after baking them in the oven, split them open and fill with butter, cinn and maple syrup! Ooops I may have tried to muscle in a recipe (how rude) Your cake looks presidential!!
    Have an awesome holiday...

  15. Wow, this looks amazing Xiaolu!!! I love the frosting, and thanks for sharing the video tutorial link. I'm not sure my hand is steady enough to get frosting as perfect as yours though!!!

    Happy Thanksgivin to you!!! I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks for your friendship and support over the year *hugs*

  16. Love the addition of sweet potato - it's easily available here and I usually add it into my breads for that extra sweetness and orangey color :D the decoration was superb and the tutorial you linked to was definitely useful!

    just wondering where you got the cake stand from? I love the wavy edges and angular column!

  17. This cake is gorgeous! I wish I had seen it before deciding on what cake I'm baking today. There's always next year (or next week!).

  18. I'll check out Oh Nuts, I've been looking for a good nut supplier, I go through so many in my baking I need to buy in bulk.
    Your petal frosting technique is awesome, I can't wait to try it.

  19. Love the swirls and the gorgeous cake,Xiaolu,though I'm trying to steer away from that direction till I drop a few pounds. :)

  20. Oh thats looks pretty cute, great job. Love the spices u used for the cake. happy thanks giving to u too

  21. I loooove the way you did the frosting on the sides, so cute. And this cake sounds really yummy. I've never tried a sweet potato cake.

  22. Wow, looks great. Have a nice Thanksgiving!

  23. OH my gosh, this is such a beautiful cake! The recipe is really unique (yay, I can eat this one too because of the dairy free). I love love love your piping technique! I must learn immediately!

  24. Sweet potato in a cake..looks like my oven is busy this weekend :) Beautiful frosting, Xiaolu.

  25. Thanks for the sweet comments, everyone! I promise the frosting technique is really not so difficult :).

  26. Not only does that sounds amazingly delicious, but oh, what I would do for cake decorating skills like yours! Seriously, if we ever get a chance to meet, I want a hands-on tutorial. I need serious help when it comes to the finishing touches, and your frosting work is stunning.

  27. I love that icing effect Xiaolu! It's so pretty! :D

  28. Xiaolu - nice. I think i pinned something similar on my pinterest...yours looks great. I love sweet potato anything too!!!

  29. That's a gorgeous decorating style, Xiaolu. Love the cake.


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