Recipe: Sweet Potato Spice Cake

I’ve only recently developed an appreciation of sweet potato and I’ve been looking for ways to use them beyond the basic mashed potato or roasted potatoes.  I also have a fondness for pumpkin cakes and breads, and wondered if I could do something similar with sweet potato.  I started doing some research and came across a Sweet Potato Pound Cake Recipe.

Now, on first reading I had a few issues and questions with this recipe, but made it regardless based on the rave reviews it got.  As I feared, it came out rubbery and tasteless.  I would not presume to blame the recipe, as with so many wonderful reviews I can only assume it was me that did something wrong.  Nonetheless, I wanted my sweet potato spiced cake and nothing was going to stop me.  It was time for some experimentation.  Using the above recipe as a basis, I made a few changes, and came up with this:

Cake 2
If you ask me, that’s a damned fine looking cake!

With some modification, this turned out to be one of the nicest cakes I have eaten, let alone made, in a very, very long time.  We had friends over who, whilst they always leave with leftovers, they have never actually asked for them.  They asked to take some of this cake with them.  I had two slices after dinner and though I thought I was going to injure myself if I kept eating, I wanted more!  THAT’S how good this cake is.  And the best thing is, by using a low GI sugar substitute (in this case coconut palm sugar) it is diabetic friendlier!

The only thing I would change the next time I make this cake is to double the amount of glaze.  We were using the cake knife to scrape up the glaze that had pooled on the plate and smear it on our cake.

Sweet Potato Spice Cake

Serves: 20 slices, 280 calories per slice

Time: 90 minutes, including baking time

You will need:

For the cake

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb of soda)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

For the icing:

  • 2 cups icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1/4 fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp orange zest


  1. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks.  Steam or boil for 15 minutes or until just tender.  Mash and set aside to cool.
  2. While the mashed sweet potato is cooling, combined the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt and sieve together.  Set aside.
  3. In a prepared bundt tin, line the bottom with crushed almonds.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170*C (350*F).
  5. When the sweet potato is completely cooled, cream the butter and coconut palm sugar until light and fluffy (if the sugar crystals are quite large, you may need to blitz the sugar in a blender until they are finer).
  6. Blend in the sweet potato, vanilla and oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the potato mixture and beat on low speed until combined.
  8. Pour into the bundt tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Remove and let cool for 20 minutes, then invert on to a cake plate and allow to cool completely.
  9. To make the glaze, first crack 3 cardamon pods and shake out the seeds.  In a mortar and pestle grind the seeds as finely as possible, then sift together with icing sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  10. Mix in the orange juice until you have a thick, smooth icing.  If too thick, add 1/2 teaspoon of orange juice until the icing flows.  Take care not to add too much as this will result in runny icing.
  11. Drizzle the icing over the cake and sprinkle with the orange zest.
  12. For a truly sinful treat, serve with cinnamon icing!

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