As you can see, some dramatic, earth-shaking changes have been enacted on this here blog as of late. To the left, there is a line of social media icons, as follows:
|No fucking duh, Baby June.|
You will find that these symbols link to my social media profiles. Why did I do this? Because I am a validation-starved attention whore, obviously. Feel free to click on them. Or not. It hardly matters, because my point in mentioning this is to give credit to Sew Many Ways’ tutorial on how to create this beautiful line of symbols as well as Carrie Loves’ free downloads.
In case you were wondering, I used “dazzling blue”.
Well, that had absolutely nothing to do with the recipe I have here, so let us move on to more fascinating and delicious courses of conversation—I mean, single-stream ranting—like, I don’t know…sweet potatoes.
|Sweet, sweet potatoes. source|
Imma let you finish, but sweet potatoes are the greatest vegetable of all time. And yes, they are vegetables. Even though they taste like candy.
Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, but they have been a staple of the human diet for millennia. The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond, a fascinating book I recently read, described how many traditional societies (the term used for the tribes and bands of, you know, yore). I can’t find a direct quote, but I distinctly remember reading that some societies (mostly those in Polynesia and South America, where sweet potatoes are a native plant) had diets consisting of up to 90% sweet potatoes. In case you aren’t so great in math, that’s a lot. Trust me. I eat tons of sweet potatoes, but my dietary intake probably maxes out at around 5%, depending on the day.
Why were these societies able subsist off of this fabulous vegetable? Because it is a) readily available in their climates and b) super nutritious and c) probably the tastiest food these primitive societies had available to them. I mean, if you have a choice between taro root, plain greens, and sweet potato, would you really say, “Hey, I’m really feeling that spinach today, let’s go munch on some dressing-less salad while we fight of starvation and disease”? No. You fucking wouldn’t. In fact, you would probably rather go and hunt some lions. Sweet potatoes just happen to be a bit easier to acquire than fresh lion flank steak.
|GO EAT SOME SWEET POTATOES, MOTHERFUCKER. source|
Okay lion, calm down. Bitch.
And that is how some traditional societies came to rely on sweet potatoes so heavily. Does that make eating 90% sweet potatoes paleo?
|I don't think traditional societies were able to acquire that much meat, but whatever. source|
Reading The World Until Yesterday in large part justified my obsession with this glorious vegetable. It’s natural. Must be in my genes, buried underneath all of the beer-loving Irishness and croissant-gomphing Frenchness and whiteness in general.
So it came as no surprise to my family that, when I officially finished all of my stupid fucking exams and was home for the summer, I chose to make a sweet potato layer cake to celebrate.
|Um...I don't see any sweet potato.|
Yes, there is sweet potato in there. Somewhere. Somehow. If you dig beneath all of that frosting, you shall find it.
Scroll up to the top where I so helpfully placed that shot of a single slice of this beautiful mess, and you will see that the frosting is sort of sectioned off into two layers. That is because there is actually two layers of frosting. The first layer consists of world-famous two-ingredient vegan frosting, made with coconut cream and chocolate chips, and to be honest it came out quite shitty. Shitty enough that I smeared it all over my painstakingly crafted layer cake and cried my heart out before sucking it up and making a batch of buttercream to hide the failure. The second frosting recipe I tried, from Add a Pinch, came out far, far better—and so from now on I recommend that instead as a staple vegan frosting. It is simple and fabulous and fluffy and delicious and every way. You can’t go wrong with chocolate buttercream.
Now about the cake. The pound cake, which I adapted from Taste of Home, was sort of a mess too. I did not think you would have to spread the batter perfectly smooth in the pans before baking. I was wrong. Thus I strongly recommend you make sure to do so if you attempt this recipe. Also—I was lacking silken tofu to make my favorite egg replacement, therefore I was forced to use chia seeds (as you can plainly see). That was not so grand, unless you like having little black dots studded throughout your cake. So feel free to use tofu instead.
Otherwise, there was nothing wrong with this layer cake. Nothing at all.
I know. I’m just perfect that way.
Sweet potato layer cake with candied pecans and chocolate frosting
Makes one large layer cake
Sweet potato pound cake (adapted from Taste of Home)
56 grams ● Earth Balance, softened ● ¼ cup
54 grams ● coconut oil, softened (or more Earth Balance) ● ¼ cup
100 grams ● granulated sugar ● ½ cup
124 grams ● silken tofu, blended until smooth (or other substitute for two eggs—I used two chia eggs) ● ½ cup
2 grams ● vanilla extract ● ½ teaspoon
187 grams ● all-purpose flour ● 1 ½ cups
4 grams ● baking powder ● 1 teaspoon
1 gram ● baking soda ● ¼ teaspoon
1 gram ● salt ● 1/8 teaspoon
2 grams ● cinnamon ● ½ teaspoon
1 gram ● nutmeg ● 1/8 teaspoon
200 grams ● mashed and cooled sweet potatoes ● 1 cup
Sweet potato cheesecake (adapted from Nutrition Stripped)
318 grams ● sweet potato ● 1 cup plus ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons
141 grams ● cashews, soaked for one hour ● 1 cup
240 grams ● maple syrup ● ¾ cup
14 grams ● coconut oil ● 1 tablespoon
0.5 gram ● salt ● 1 pinch
168 ● chocolate chips ● 1 cup
Candied pecans (adapted from Babble)
100 grams ● pecans ● 1 cup
50 grams ● sugar ● ¼ cup
14 grams ● coconut oil ● 1 tablespoon
2 grams ● vanilla extract ● ½ teaspoon
2 grams ● salt ● ¼ teaspoon
2 grams ● cinnamon ● 1 teaspoon
Chocolate fudge frosting (adapted from Add a Pinch)
170 grams ● Earth Balance, softened ● ¾ cup
43 grams ● cocoa powder ● ½ cup
300 grams ● powdered sugar ● 2 ½ cups
60 grams ● nondairy milk ● ¼ cup
4 grams ● vanilla extract ● 1 teaspoon
1 gram ● espresso powder ● ¼ teaspoon
To make sweet potato pound cake, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and greasing two nine-inch round baking pans. Set aside.
Place Earth Balance, coconut oil, and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add tofu (or chia eggs) and vanilla extract and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sweet potatoes and mix just until combined. The batter will be stiff, and that’s okay.
Divide batter into the greased baking pans, smoothing over batter into an even layer, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for ten minutes before removing from pans, then let cake layers cool completely before making the other layers.
To make sweet potato cheesecake, combine all ingredients in a powerful blender or food processor and let it whir until thoroughly combined.
To make candied pecans, start by placing parchment paper on a baking sheet. Set aside. Then, melt coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sugar, salt, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Add nuts and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar caramelizes and the nuts are toasted. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour nuts on prepared baking sheet and use a fork to separate nuts into a single layer. Let cool completely before using.
Now, place the cooled sweet potato cake at the bottom of a nine-inch springform pan. Sprinkle some candied pecans on top, then pour sweet potato cheesecake on top of that. Add the rest of the candied pecans. Top with the final layer of sweet potato cake and put the whole shebang in the freezer.
To make chocolate frosting, place softened Earth Balance and cocoa powder in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and cream together until well combined. Next, add one cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk. Turn mixer on high for about a minute, then add another cup of powdered sugar and another tablespoon of milk. Mix on high once again. Finish with the remaining milk and sugar as well as vanilla extract and espresso. Beat like a mofo until it is nice and fluffy and wonderful.
To finish cake, remove the sides of the springform pan from the prepared layers and cover the whole thing with frosting. Do it like a dude; don’t be afraid to get messy with that bitch. Put it on a cake tray and serve it up to your drooling guests. Or yourself.
Out of all of the components in this cake, I would say the chocolate chip sweet potato cheesecake and the candied pecans are tied for most delicious. I could not stop eating those pecans, I swear. Had to hurry to put together the cake lest I eat them all. Same thing with the cheesecake—could have eaten it with a spoon right out of the food processor like the fucking punk rocker I am on the inside if I hadn’t mustered up a shred of self-control just in time.
|That green plate does not go well with that brown cake. Sorry.|
And despite this cake’s imperfections, I would say it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. Maybe not number one—the Thin Mint cake still takes that designation—but still up there. So much chocolate. So much sweet potato. I am lost for words.
|I'm as confused as this photo is right now.|
In other news (besides cake, obviously): I have recently gone to the cake store (or whatever it is called) to get some more awesome-sauce baking supplies, such as new piping tips (ZOMG!), an offset spatula (finally!), a box of fifty piping bags (yes yes yes!), and—wait for it—SPRINKLES! Nonpareils, to be specific. Armed with these and a library copy of Sensational Buttercream Decorating, I shall conquer the world.
You just wait and see.