Sweet potato is available in such abundance in the Philippines. A staple in any supermarket, grocery, or farmer’s market all year round, it is also a very common fixture in many of the food stalls that line the often, lively, busy streets of the country, particularly in areas near schools.
This is hardly surprising though. Thanks to the versatility of sweet potatoes, it is easy for the enterprising minds to make it into something that would prove a hit to every passerby.
Perhaps the most popular way of serving these tuberous roots, in the country at least, is slicing it into bite-sized pieces, deep-frying it and then coating it with caramelised brown sugar. The pieces are then arranged on a bamboo skewer for an easier, more convenient, less messy eating session. This makes it easier to munch on the delightful merienda while going about your errands, waiting at the jeepney stop, or just enjoying an afternoon city stroll.
Some people prefer the no-fuss method of just boiling it in water with a pinch of salt. This is a huge hit too, especially as afternoon snacks for many a Filipino family. It can be eaten as is. Some serve it with margarine, which is a delight. My mum has a peculiar yet very interesting way of serving boiled sweet potatoes at home though- dipped in oil with some salt in it.
I know. It does sound weird. Trust me though, it’s really good.
You can also make it into a delightful, delicious filling for empanada. I know, you probably haven’t heard of that before but I am going to have to discuss that in detail in a separate pot.
Anyway, I’ve always wondered if it is possible to make it into a cake, but I was a bit nervous that it might not turn out as good as I’d hope it would. It was only later on when I stumbled upon a recipe by shewearsmanyhats that I finally summoned the courage to try it out. I did tweak it a bit and the resulting cake was just heavenly.
The cake uses butter instead of oil that is then creamed and beaten until it’s fluffy. Eggs are then added one at a time.
The addition of ground cinnamon and ginger gives the cake a really incredible smell, especially right after you take it out of the oven.
When mashing the sweet potatoes, make sure that you do it while it is still hot because it is just so hard to do it once it has already cooled down. Mashing it when cooled will only likely end up with lumps, which you do not want for your cake.
The cake uses buttermilk but if you do not have one readily available in the kitchen, you can make a substitute instead. All you need are two tablespoons of vinegar and then add milk to that until you get a total of a cup. Let stand for about 10 minutes and you have your buttermilk!
When adding the dry ingredients to the egg, butter, and sweet potato mixture, do it in threes. This is to ensure that you will not end up with lumps. Also, alternate it with buttermilk. Use a spatula to fold everything together or an electric beater on low to incorporate everything together.
Your pan of choice can affect the baking time. Wider and shallower pans would require less time in the oven. Meanwhile, deeper and narrower pans would mean more baking time. The cake is done when you stick a toothpick at the centre of the cake and it comes out clean. Generally, you will need to bake it around 55-75 minutes.
For this particular recipe, I decided to use a chiffon cake pan and I find that this helps shorten the baking time considerably.
Below is the recipe for sweet potato cake.
Sweet Potato Cake Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking soda
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 cup butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes, properly cooled
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups granulated sugar
1. Pre-heat oven to 160C and prepare the baking pan.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy. Set the beater into medium-high and beat for about 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is fluffy. this usually takes about 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Add vanilla extract and add the mashed potatoes too. Beat again until the mixture is smooth.
6. Add the dry ingredients in three parts and alternate it with the buttermilk. Beat it in low speed until everything is properly incorporated. Avoid overbeating.
7. bake the cake for 55 to 75 minutes. Baking time usually depends on the kind of baking pan that you use. You know the cake is done when you stick a toothpick in the centre and it comes out clean.