Mix it up at Thanksgiving with Sweet Potato Cake

Sweet Potato Cake.

November is here and that means Thanksgiving is around the corner. I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday where most people get together with loved ones and celebrate their blessings.

And, of course, food always is involved – and maybe some football, too.

Thanksgiving for most people involves a traditional meal that includes the following items: turkey and gravy, dressing – or stuffing, depending on your preference – mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, creamed corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and dessert.

At my house, several of these items are on the menu, but where I change it up is with my dessert. This year, I was inspired by my Uncle Paul.

My uncle is an avid gardener and had a bumper crop of sweet potatoes this year. Once I saw a picture of him with all his sweet potatoes, I started looking for a dessert recipe using them. I came across Sweet Potato Cake from She Wears Many Hats.

This recipe is based on a dessert item from the Brick Street Cafe in Greenville, South Carolina. I have never been to this restaurant, but after having made this cake, I am sure I would enjoy a meal there. This cake gives you an alternative to the traditional sweet potato casserole served during the Thanksgiving meal. It is lightly spiced and very moist.

When I made this cake, I basically followed the directions given but cut back on the amount of ginger. I felt 1 tablespoon of ginger would overpower the taste and used only 1½ teaspoons. If you are a fan of ginger, you might want to use the full amount. I used four sweet potatoes instead of five and it was just fine.

To prepare the sweet potatoes, it is best to bake them. To assist the baking process, slice them in half lengthwise, brush lightly with oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Let them cool, peel and mash them.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, make your own by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Add milk until it measures 1 cup and let it stand until the mixture thickens.

When preparing the cake, it is important to alternate the dry ingredients and buttermilk. There actually is a good reason to alternate ingredients. Adding all the buttermilk at once could cause the batter to separate. Adding all the dry ingredients could cause the batter to be thick, which results in overmixing, yielding a tougher cake.

Always start and end with the dry ingredients. And only stir after each addition until just combined – again, to prevent overmixing.

Because this is a dense batter, be sure to check the cake with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean – no batter sticking to it – the cake is done. I would check at 35 minutes first, and then add five additional minutes to your timer until done. This might require the full 45 minutes depending on your pan choice – darker pans cook faster – and your oven.

The Cinnamon Honey Buttercream Fros­ting, also from She Wears Many Hats, is the perfect complement to Sweet Potato Cake.

This cake is not only delicious, but makes a beautiful presentation plain or with the addition of pecans on top like mine. Enjoy a delicious alternate to sweet potato casserole with this tasty dessert for your Thanksgiving holiday.

Southern Sweet Potato Cake Recipe

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes, cooled (about 4-5 sweet potatoes)

1 cup whole buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with baking parchment and butte the top of those too.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium high for 4-5 minutes until creamy, stopping to scrape down bowl at least twice. Gradually add beaten eggs. Beat on medium high for 1-2 minutes until fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and sweet potatoes and beat until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed.

Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk. Beat on low speed until just incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minute, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon Honey Buttercream Frosting Recipe

12 ounces, weight (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup honey

Beat butter a few minutes on high until fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed.

Beat in cinnamon and salt until smooth.

Add confectioners’ sugar a little at a time, stopping to scrape bowl down as needed.

Stream in honey, scraping down bowl as needed.

Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.

This recipe makes enough for a 2-layer 9-inch round cake.

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