2.08.2010

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Sweet potato is something I've always found fascinating. It's ability to take on different flavors never ceases to amaze me. I also really like how it's easily adaptable from breads to cakes to desserts to being a side at dinnertime. I had used sweet potato before in a corn bread (see the recipe index for the link), but had never thought of using it in a cake until I saw the recipe while browsing through Southern Cakes. In the book, it looked powerful, supreme, and had a mightier-than-thou appearance to it. I guess this is what attracted me to it, seeing as how Fall has come and gone and it is no longer sweet potato time. I really liked how easily it became a cake. It had a delicious aroma of spice and vanilla, and had a nice light taste to it that was nowhere as sweet as how I thought it would have been. When paired with a Buttermilk Glaze, it's by far one of the best cakes I have ever tried/made. I'll be making this cake when Thanksgiving time comes around again. According to Nancie McDermott, she "adore[s] this cake, which bakes up tall, aromatic with spices, and fortified with the autumnal rosy-golden color and comforting flavor of sweet potatoes. All pound cakes taste sublime when toasted, but this one blesses you with its spicy aroma as well."

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
*serves 8 to 10*

Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

BUTTERMILK GLAZE
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1) Heat the oven to 350F, and grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Set the milk and flour mixtures aside.
2) In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together with a mixer at high speed until light and well combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one a time, beating well each time. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and mix at low speed for 1 minute, or until the batter is evenly mixed.
3) Add about half the flour mixture and beat gently, using a wooden spoon or a mixer at low speed, only until the flour disappears into the batter. Add half the milk and mix gently to combine everything well. Mix in the remaining flour, and then the remaining milk, beating gently only until you have a thick, smooth batter.
4) Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan, and bake at 350F for between 60 and 75 minutes, or until the cake is evenly browned, springs back when touched gently in the center, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
5) While the cake is baking, make the glaze in a medium saucepan, combining the buttermilk, sugar, butter, cornstarch, and baking soda, and bringing to a gentle boil. Remove at once, stir well, and cool to room temperature. Add the vanilla, and set aside until the cake is done.
6) Cool in the pan on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel for 20 minutes. Then use a table knife to loosen the cake from the pan. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack and place it top side up. Spoon the buttermilk glaze over the warm cake, and cool completely.

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