I imagined this sweet potato, gingerbread and stracciatella layer cake for New Year’s Eve, because what a better occasion than winter holidays to stuff yourself with fat & sweet desserts? Even though I love this sweet treat, I’m still a novice in the field, layer cake speaking. I’m always full of imagination to create a new one, but I have to say that I get slightly scared and lazy when it comes to spend so much time on it, without being sure about the final result – my equipment is pretty basic, I don’t have any rotating cake tray to properly frost the cake nor all my baking moulds here, as most of my cooking mess stayed in France.
No need to talk about the cake transportation when ready to eat, which is literally a pain in the ass – sweet memories of a previous NYE traumatic cake mission, for which I realised a Pig in the mud cake in Paris, then had to take Parisian subway, then train to Burgundy with it in the hands.
In spite of all my efforts since last year to control my sugar intake, life irony wants baking to be the field in which I’m probably the most talented when it comes to make food. Although it’s a precise and exigent art, I almost always master to succeed a recipe while following my creativity and instinct, without strictly following dosage basics, or having to re-develop the recipe 3 times in a row before to be able to share it with you.
Dessert sweetness and smoothness have always been a source of reassurance for me – well a bit too much, and here I started sugar detox… -, but every single step to prepare the comforting bouchées do so as well. When I started to integrate cooking and baking more seriously in my student life, it wasn’t rare for me to let down finals revising to work on my next baked goodies – probability ratio was getting higher accordingly to my level of discouragement for the class, meaning microeconomics and finance were standing on the podium of my culinary productivity.
Hours spent to bake are among those rare moments during which ones my mind is getting totally empty – contrary to running, when my brain can literally turn into a thought factory, so much that I actually could run into a wall without noticing -. The center of all my attention will be the success of the recipe, texture of the dough or balance of the tastes. I’m not such a manual person, so finitions as well as cake dressing, frosting and decoration remain the hardest parts for me. If food is in my opinion also meaning a way of sharing, the value of those moments spent behind the stove is also the reason why I prefer cooking alone most of the time, and not let anybody enter in my bubble.
My sweet potato, gingerbread & stracciatella layer cake is a happy mix of everything I love in a cake: sweetness and dampness brought by sweet potatoes; bitter almond, cinnamon and anise exacerbating flavours that remind gingerbread; frosting creaminess coating some crunchy dark chocolate chunks that bring stronger flavours.
- 2 1/2 cups spelt flour
- 1cup mashed sweet potato
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 envelope of baking powder (7g)
- 2tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp anise
- 1tsp salt
- 400g cream cheese
- 1 cup soft butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 dose almond extract (4-5 drops)
- 2tsp lemon juice
- 1 envelope of vanilla sugar
- 40g dark chocolate (>70%)
- 125g sugar
- 60g salted butter
- 7cl single cream
- 1 dash of lemon juice
- 1. Prepare the sweet potato cake: preheat oven to 180C. In a salad bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt together. In another bowl, stir mashed sweet potato with buttermilk, brown sugar, oil and eggs.
- 2. Add to the dry ingredients, then stir until you get a homogeneous dough. Grease a 20cm mould and pour the mixture inside. Put in oven for about 45minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before to turn out.
- 3.Prepare the frosting: in a bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, almond extract, lemon juice and vanilla sugar.
- 4. Once the frosting homogeneous and creamy, divide it in 2 bowls. Shred dark chocolate, then add it to one of the bowls.
- 5. Assemble the layer cake: when the cake cooled, cut it in 3 layers within the heigh, then top them and add a generous layer of stracciatella in between each of them. Using a spatula, frost all over the layer cake with the plain frosting, until you get a regular coating. Put in fridge for about 1h.
- 6. Prepare caramel: take the layer cake from fridge. In a pan on low heat, bake sugar. When it starts to caramelize, add a dash of lemon juice to stop baking, then add single cream and stir well. Turn off fire and add soft butter in pieces. Stir well with a spatula until the caramel is homogeneous.
- 7. When the caramel is creamy and not too liquid - if so, just let cool for a few more minutes until it gets thicker-, pour it over the layer cake. Let cool in fridge for 1 or 2 extra hours before serving.