If you love sweet potatoes you will love this Sweet Potato Sour Cream Cake. Cooked sweet potatoes along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to create an incredibly flavored cake. Sour cream helps create a tender crumb and the bourbon adds a hint of sweetness. The idea for this cake came from an AgriTour that I did with California Grown last fall. Read on to learn how to make this cake and to learn more about sweet potatoes and how are farmers are creating great things for us to eat.
Why This Recipe Works
The combination of sweet potato, sour cream and butter create a deliciously moist cake. The spices enhance the flavor of the sweet potato and the sour cream helps create a tender cake crumb. The whipped mascarpone is a nice addition to this cake, but the cake is so good it can be eaten by itself.
California Grown Agricultural Tour
In November, I along with other food bloggers got to take a California Grown Virtual Agri-Tour. This tour is normally done in person, so I had my doubts about a virtual tour, but the team led by K.C. Loquaci Cornwell (G-Free Foodie) did a phenomenal job. We started in the Fresno Valley and ended up in San Joaquin Valley.
The tour highlights included visits to the following places:
- The Imperial Valley hosted by Cherie Watte Angulo (a 4th generation farmer)
- Livingston, California (the Sweet Potato Capital) for a sweet potato tour with Tucker Produce
- Central Valley, CA where we got a tour of Fiscalini Farmstead, where we learned how the farmstead cheese is made. My favorite was the Old World Aged Cheddar Cheese.
- San Joaquin Valley, where Rolland Rosenthal of Rosenthal Olive Oil showed us how olive oil is made and how they care for the trees.
We ended the day with wine tasting. As part of the virtual tour we received olive oil, wine, prunes, raisins and farmstead cheese. I loved all of it, but the chocolate covered raisins and the sharp cheddar cheese were my favorite.
Here are a few facts that we learned from our tour:
- 99 percent of California dairies are family-owned
- Farmstead cheese is cheese that is made from the milk produced by the cows at the dairy.
- California produces more produce than the next 4 states combined - 2/3 of the fruits and nuts and 1/3 of the vegetables
Why I Love Sweet Potatoes
I've always loved sweet potatoes, probably because my first memory was my mom's candied yams. Now I like them best roasted in the oven - either whole or cut into chunks.
Jason Tucker of Tucker Produce gave us a tour of their sweet potato farm. Sweet potatoes grow best in sandy soil. The potatoes consist of a stem which grows into a swollen root aka sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes start off as a plant that is grown in a hothouse and they are then transferred to the field and planted. They prefer hot and dry weather which make the San Joaquin Valley the perfect location for growing.
Sweet potatoes have a lot of nutrients and beta keratin. They're perfect for baking, or frying into french fries or during the holidays mashing them with lots of butter. But to celebrate California agriculture and the sweet potato I decided to make a sweet potato cake.
Sweet Potato Cake Ingredients
The recipe for this cake is based on a regular butter cake. To that recipe, sweet potatoes and warm spices are added to punch up the flavor. The ingredients for this cake include the following:
- Mashed Sweet Potato
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- Granulated Sugar
- Light Brown Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
- Sour Cream
- Whole Eggs
How to Make the Cake
The first step in this recipe is to bake the sweet potato. I prefer to bake the potato instead of boiling or microwaving it. Baking the sweet potato doesn't add additional water as would happen with boiling and allows time for the natural sugars to develop. The sweet potato is done when you are able to squeeze the potato and it gives easily.
Once the sweet potato is done, scoop out the filling, mash it with the back of a fork and measure out 1/2 cup for the cake recipe. One-half cup of the sweet potato weighs 132 grams.
For the cake batter start by creaming the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. Add the sweet potato and beat the batter until it is well mixed in. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition until the eggs is well combined into the batter.
Next add half the flour and mix on low. Once the flour is added to the cake batter, mix on low to avoid over-developing the gluten. Too much gluten results in a tough cake.
When the batter is done scrape it into the cake pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula and bake according to the recipe directions.
How to Make the Whipped Mascarpone
I love whipped mascarpone as a cake frosting and topping. It's super simple to make and so delicious. There are three main ingredients:
- Mascarpone Cream
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Meadow Foam Honey
The Meadow Foam Honey is a dark honey that has a strong vanilla taste. The honey contributes a lot of the flavor to this whipped topping. If you don't have Meadow Foam honey, you can use regular honey and 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
Start by combining the honey and mascarpone is large bowl and whipping it medium speed with a hand mixer until it is creamy, about 60 seconds. Then reduce the speed to low and slowly add the heavy whipping cream. Once all the cream is added increase the mixer speed to medium high until the beaters start to leave visible marks in the cream-mascarpone mixture.
How to Make the Sugared Pecans
The sugared pecans are a nice final touch to this cake but definitely optional, especially if you're allergic to nuts. There are five basic ingredients for this sugared nuts:
- Pecan Halves
- Granulated Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
- Egg Whites
- Ground Cinnamon
This recipe works best with pecan halves rather than pecan pieces. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Allow the oven to fully preheat before coating the nuts in the egg white and sugar mixture.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan or in the microwave. I prefer melting butter in a saucepan because there is a chance that you if you go a little too long in the butter it will pop and splatter all over the microwave.
Pour the melted butter on the baking sheet and spread it around. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg whites, the sugar and the ground cinnamon. Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and mix together with a spatula until all the nuts are coated.
Spread the nuts across the baking sheet and use a spatula to coat the nuts with the melted butter. Bake the pecans for 30 minutes. Stir the nuts every 10 minutes. The egg white mixture will start with turn brown
How to Assemble the Cake
Since this is a single layer cake assembling the cake is as easy as 1-2-3. Place the cake on either a cake board or a flat plate. Next spread the whipped mascarpone across the top of the cake, using all the frosting. Then arrange the candied pecans on top in any pattern that you choose.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I don't have sour cream, can I use buttermilk?
Yes, you can replace the sour cream with buttermilk. If you don't have buttermilk, add 1-1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, stir the mixture and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before using.
Can this cake be made gluten-free?
Yes, you can use Bob's Red Mill 1 for 1 Gluten-Free flour. I recommend this flour specifically, because it is the one I have used.
Can this recipe be doubled?
Yes, this recipe is for 6 doughnuts and is very easy to scale up to 12 or 18 doughnuts. Everything should be doubled or tripled except the amount of apple cider. If making 12 doughnuts start with 3 cups of apple cider and reduce it to 3/4 cup. For 18 doughnuts, reduce 4 cups of cider to 1-1/4 cups.
Other Cake Recipes
If you need other cake ideas here are a few of my favorites:
I hope you try this recipe, especially if you love sweet potatoes. Please leave me a note in the comments below and let me know what you think about this recipe or ask any questions that you. If you make this recipe I would love to see your pictures and if you post it to Instagram tag me @bakesbybrownsugar and #bakesbybrownsugar.
Sweet Potato Sour Cream Cake
Sweet Potato Cake
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 8 ounces mascarpone cold
- 3 tablespoons honey such as Meadow Foam
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream. Cold
Candied Pecans (Optional)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 2 large egg whites
- For this recipe I used a large bowl and hand mixer. You can use a stand mixer if you prefer.
Bake the Sweet Potato
- Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Wash the exterior of the sweet potato. Pierce it about seven times with the tip of a sharp knife. Place it in a foil lined pan and bake until it is soft. The potato will give easily when you lightly squeeze it.
- Remove the potato from the oven. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Split potato in half and scoop out the flesh. You will need at least 1/2 cup of sweet potato or 132 grams. Smash it up with the back of a fork. Allow it completely cool to room temperature before adding it to the cake batter.
For the Cake Batter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and line it parchment paper. Crack the eggs and place them in a small bowl. Place the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in medium-sized bowl and whisk together for 30 seconds to thoroughly.
- Place the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, the butter, the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a large bowl. Start the mixer on low speed. As soon as the sugar, butter and spices start to come together increase the speed to medium high and beat until the batter is lighter in color, smoother in texture and fluffier, about 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl
- Add the mashed sweet potato and mix on medium high for 1 minute, until it is thoroughly combined. There should be small pieces of sweet potato and the batter should be light orange. Add the eggs one at time, beating the batter after each addition until each egg is thoroughly combined into the batter. Scrape the sides and bottoms of the bowl.
- Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated. Add all of the sour cream and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining flour and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the bourbon and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
- Scrape the cake into the prepared cake pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth and level the batter. Bake the cake 35-40 minutes, but start checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Use a cake tester or a toothpick to test the doneness. When the cake tester is inserted in the center of the cake and removed there should be no batter clinging to the tester. If you have an instant read thermometer you can check the temperate at center of the cake. It will be about 200 degrees F.
- Remove the cake from the over. Allow it cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert it onto a lightly oiled cake rack to finished cooling.
- The unfrosted cake can sit a room temperature to up to 3 days.
- Meadow Foam honey is a dark honey and has a strong vanilla taste. Other honeys that have a distinctive flavor (such as blackberry or vegetable honey) will also work. If you are using a lighter color honey, such as clover add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
- Place the cold mascarpone and the honey in a large bowl. With a handheld mixer mix on medium-high speed until beat the mixture is smooth and the honey is well combined with the mascarpone.
- With the mixer on low speed slowly stream in the heavy whipping cream. When all of it is added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until visible beater marks at left in the whipped mascarpone and there are soft peaks. Be careful not to overmix.
- Frost the top of the cake and serve. Refrigerate any leftover cake.
- I decorated this cake with candied pecans. However you can decorate it with fresh fruit, candied oranges or not at all.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half baking sheet with foil and pour the butter onto the foil. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg whites, the sugar and the cinnamon. Add the pecans and toss with a silicone spatula to thoroughly coat the nuts.
- Spread the nuts on the pan and spread them across the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, stir the nuts and return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. As the nuts bake the egg whites will turn brown and start to stick to the pecans.
- Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature. Store them in an airtight container until ready to decorate the top of the cake.