oh, cake.

I am plum tuckered out. I’m not certain that adding “plum” to the phrase really expresses how incredibly sleepy I actually am, but given today’s recipe, it seemed like a Southern thing to say. Between the late night baking and early morning wake up calls, it seems the measly 5 hours of sleep I’ve been squeezing in each night isn’t doing the trick. I like to think I’m invincible in that aspect, but one peek in the mirror at 5:45 a.m. this morning proved otherwise: rough. Thankfully, I’ve been reading different versions of Phos Hilaron whenever I really start to drag, and it never fails to send tiny shivers down my spine. I’m not certain it’s always the words themselves that does it, or the quiet chanting sounds of corporate worship humming through my earbuds, but it’s practically perfect in every way.

Hail Gladdening Light
Of His pure glory poured
Who is the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Blessed
Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ our Lord

Now we are come to the sun's hour of rest
The lights of evening 'round us shine
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Divine

Worthiest art Though, at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue
Son of our God, Giver of life alone
Therefore, in all the world Thy glories Lord
Thine own

I made last minute plans the other night which consequently also means last minute panic at the thought of showing up empty-handed, so even though the moon was up and my jammies were on, I found myself lugging out my trusty stand mixer at indecent hours. I’ve been thinking about this sweet potato pound cake for some time now, but when I consider pound cake I suddenly feel a sensation in my chest, not unlike choking, because every pound cake recipe I’ve ever tried was more like packed sand than a dessert. Nonetheless, I’ve been completely intrigued by the thought of this recipe, I even took to saying, “ya’ll” all day long just to get into the spirit of it. Normally, I would not recommend tweaking a recipe before you’ve even tried the original but heck – I like to live dangerously. I swapped out the regular milk for buttermilk in search of a nice tang to contrast with the sweet potatoes, upped the nutmeg dosage just a touch because half a teaspoon in such a large cake didn’t seem kosher to me, skipped the buttermilk glaze in exchange for a snowstorm of powdered sugar because the recipe for the glaze called for baking soda and that is beyond strange to me. Oh – and I used canned sweet potatoes instead of real ones. Quelle horreur!

But all these little love taps really worked in my favor – I had four slices of it the next day, if you’re looking for evidence. The syrup soaked sweet potatoes (which I rinsed and you should, too) donated a little extra moisture to the cake – a trait I’m certain regular sweet potatoes wouldn’t give you and I find real sweet potatoes to be sort of stringy. When it was baked and dusted with sugar, it was scented like a glorified spice doughnut, spicy and sweet and oh my gosh the very thought of it is making me weak-kneed. The nutmeg warms your throat after each bite and it’s entirely too tempting to shove it down as quickly as you can just so you can move on to your next slice. But with some ice cold milk, you’ll be gettin’ it. Trust me.

I shared this cake with a handful of Southern palates at work to get an honest opinion, and judging by the ooh’s and oh my gosh’s, I’d say most of them were over the moon. The crumbles at the bottom of my cake plate are a painful reminder that it’s gone, and I may have to make another just to fill that lonely void. Oh, cake.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Adapted from Southern Cakes, by Nancie McDermott

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes*

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan. (If your pan is nonstick, you can get away with just some cooking spray; no need to flour.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sweet potatoes, and mix until the batter is combined. (The batter will look curdled at this point but don't panic - it will come together with the dry ingredients.)

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Beat to just incorporate. Then add half of the milk mixture, and continue to beat on low until well blended. Add the remaining flour, followed by the remaining milk, and beat on low until the batter is thick and smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge to loosen the cake, and then carefully invert it onto the rack. Cool completely before dusting generously with powdered sugar.

*You could certainly bake or nuke the sweet potatoes ahead of time, but as Mitch Hedberg would say, “I put a potato in the oven when I don’t even want one. By the time it’s ready...who knows?” I used 2 regular sized cans of sweet potatoes in light syrup, rinsed them in a colander and then smashed away with a fork.


  1. Chi Chi28.6.10

    I found this recipe by way of your mot recent post, "Nutmeg Doughnut Muffins." I really appreciate your blog, you've got a great sense of humor and I like the way you eat! I will be making this for sure.

    My mom makes a sweet potato pie (without a recipe of course) and when teaching me all her tricks and secrets to a great pie, she made it clear that when you bake with sweet potatoes, DO NOT clean the mixer's whisk into the mixing bowl. This is the best way to avoid a stringy pie.

    Anyway, just wanted to compliment you on your blog! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed my little cozy home on the World Wide Web. That's a good tip on the sweet potatoes - I usually mix the strands back in, I think I've convinced myself it gives it more flavor. I'm crazy, right? I'll be removing them from now on thanks to your Mom! ;)


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