This October is bittersweet for me. On the one hand it's my favourite month and we're off to Paris in less than two weeks - woohoo! But on the other I am going back to work at the end of the month. I do not know where the last year has gone. It sounds so cliché but it has just flown by and I can't believe it's time to send Matilda to nursery and go back to work. If I could tell myself anything a year ago, it would be not to worry about making grand plans for maternity leave. You probably won't learn a language or sew a giant quilt. I didn't properly get round to starting a business but I got a little step closer, I'll probably work on it more for next year. I did learn calligraphy and plan a wedding so I shouldn't beat myself up too much :) oh yeah, and I kept Matilda alive and happy so that's pretty cool.
The time you do have just disappears into piles of laundry and dishes. I am often amazed at how much I can accomplish in an hour or with just one hand. A warning however, I have ended up with a strain injury in my right hand from ten months of holding Matilda in my left arm and doing everything with my right. Hopefully this will ease off a little when she is at nursery four days a week. My injury flared up making this cake because I couldn't be bothered to get the electric whisk out and I whisked the eggs by hands. I should have taken the lazy route.
This cake is perfect for autumn. It's just slightly adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe for carrot cake and you probably wouldn't know it was sweet potato if I didn't tell you but it's the maple frosting that makes it. I had a glut of sweet potatoes lying around and I figured there was no reason why I couldn't use them in the same way as carrots. This frosting is much sweeter than your basic cream cheese frosting so you don't need a big slice when it comes to eating, but who am I to tell you how to eat your cake?!
It is crumbly without being dry and has the right balance of sweet and spice. As with all cakes, I recommend a strong coffee.
Sweet Potato Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
(cake recipe adapted slightly from David Lebovitz)
60ml vegetable oil
190g butter, browned
280g plain flour
200g light brown sugar
200g caster sugar
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
400g sweet potatoes (peeled weight), grated
80g sultanas or raisins
For the frosting:
110g unsalted butter, softened
150g full fat cream cheese
60ml maple syrup
500g icing sugar, sifted
walnut halves, to decorate
- Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4. Grease and line your tins - I used 3x 18cm tins but the original recipe was for 2x 23cm tins so that's fine as well.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, salt and spices.
- Brown the butter but melting it in a light coloured wide pan over a low-medium heat until the colour starts to turn a golden caramel colour and the best nutty smell fills your kitchen. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl until pale and frothy.
- Add the oil to the butter and slowly pour into the egg, whisking constantly.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in until just incorporated.
- Finally, add the grated sweet potato and sultanas.
- Divide the mixture between the tins, bake for 25 minutes in 18cm tins or 30-35 in 23cm tins, making sure to test at 30 with a cake tester. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tins before turning out.
- For the frosting, beat the butter for a minute then mix in the cream cheese for 30 seconds - don't over mix it.
- Sift in the icing sugar and beat slowly until all the icing sugar is incorporated. Pour in the maple syrup and beat on a medium speed. Keep mixing for two minutes until your frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Place your bottom layer on a plate and spread a heaped dessert spoonful of frosting on, repeat this with the next two layers. Lightly crumb coat the sides and place in the fridge for an hour.
- After an hour, smooth the remaining icing around the sides and top. For my three layer cake this was just enough icing, and as it's sweet you don't need too much, so there will be more than enough for an two layer cake.
- Top with some walnut halves and a little drizzle of maple syrup.