In these trying financial times, where bananas are priced like gold bars, the humble sweet potato is a more than worthy replacement in baking recipes that call for some of that sweet yellow mush. Of course, in many Asian countries, sweet potato is a common ingredient in desserts, less so in the West. Of course., Americans are in sway to their iconic pumpkin pie, so it’s no great leap to think of a sweet potato in dessert or cake terms.
When I saw this recipe for sweet potato hazelnut cake on Chris Kresser’s wonderful site, I just knew I wanted to make it the next thing on my baking list especially considering the great banana crisis of 2011 had left a bit of a hole in my cooking repertoire. One of the commenters on Kresser’s post had also branched out to make the cake with spices, in the tradition of Scandinavian spice biscuits, which I love but are full of sugar and other nasties in commercial preparations. The first time I made this cake, I used hazelnut meal and included the spices – unfortunately, the spice flavouring overpowered the hazelnut flavour, so now I leave out the spices but will return to them later to make biscuits.
My more recent attempts at this cake (or loaf as I have made it) were using almond meal which is cheaper than hazelnut meal and is a real staple in my pantry. It has turned out perfectly each time – the sweet potato has a beautiful richness to it, especially since it is baked whole with the skin on before preparing the cake mix. Just like with banana, the sweetness means you can get away with much less sweetener than in traditional cakes.
- 2 cups almond or hazelnut meal
- 1-2 small to med sweet potatoes (these should be relatively thin so they bake quicker)
- 2 med eggs
- 2 tsp. sweetener (coconut sugar, rice syrup, maple syrup, etc. – this is optional)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 50g nuts and/or seeds, chopped roughly (pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds all work well)
- 30g raisins
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pre-heat the oven to 175C or 160C for a fan forced oven. When the oven is ready, put the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and put them in the oven where they should remain until the sweet potatoes are quite soft when tested with a fork – you’ll probably notice some syrup comes out of them – no need for alarm! They usually take about an hour. Turn the oven off until the loaf/cake mix is ready. Let the sweet potatoes cool on a wire rack or overnight and peel the skin off.
Pre-heat the oven to 175C or 160C fan forced oven. When the skin has been peeled off completely and any hard parts of flesh have been discarded, mash the sweet potato thoroughly to ensure it is as smooth as possible. If you prefer, you can place all the ingredients in the food processor. If not, mix the dry ingredients together and also the wet ingredients (in separate bowls). Then, combine the two bowls of ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Pour into a 9×5 inch loaf tin lined with baking paper, making sure to evenly distribute the mix and smooth the top. Place in the oven, baking for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife entered in the centre comes out clean.
When ready, remove from the oven and cool in the tin.
This loaf can be sliced with a sharp bread knife and either stored in the fridge or frozen – it’s best to slice and then freeze each slice flat on a tray otherwise the slices may freeze together and be annoying to separate. The loaf toasts really well, making for a great raisin toast replacement.