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Sweet potato pound cake with spicy, fragrant glaze: Just what we're craving

Nicole A. Taylor currently hosts Hot Grease, a food culture podcast, and is the principal of NAT Media. She is the author of The Upsouth Cookbook (2015). Taylor has contributed to First We Feast, Cherry Bombe, Amtrak, Southern Foodways ...

Something about fall just says sweet potato pound cake — so here's a recipe with a little something extra

Here's the humble and mighty pound cake, with flecks of brilliant orange sweet potato brightening this simple dessert. I use this cake recipe all the time. Zero baking soda or powder in the batter — believe me everything will rise perfectly. The natural sweetness of the tuber adds an additional sugary layer. The spicy and fragrant icing provides the silent punch. I like to make a double batch so we can eat one and freeze the other — do it and you’ll be glad you did.

More: The secret to making a sweet potato pie that lives up to your aunt's

Sweet potato pound cake with spicy & sweet glaze recipe

Serves 14

Ingredients:

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato, mashed
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cake

  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup (half an 8 ounce package) cream cheese
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sweet potato, mashed (medium to large potato)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 4 tablespoons to coat pan, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (see note below)

Directions: 

  1. To make the glaze, combine the dairy, sugar, ground spices and mashed potato using a whisk. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 6-x-9-3/4-inch loaf pan (flour well and shake out excess). Set aside.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream 1 cup of butter and cream cheese. Gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy. Slowly add the eggs (one at a time). Add sweet potatoes. In stages, incorporate 3 cups of the flour, but do not overbeat.
  4. Stir vanilla into the mixture (the batter will be thick). Transfer into the pans. Cook for around 1-1/2 hours. Use the toothpick method to test doneness (place a toothpick in the center of the cake; if no batter sticks, it means the cake is done).
  5. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and let them cool in the cake pan. Loosen the cakes by running a butter knife around the edges of the pans. Carefully turn out the cakes on a cake stand or plate.
  6. Pour glaze over the cakes and let set for an hour.

Note: Vanilla paste has a thicker consistency with specks of vanilla and a deeper flavor.

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