The Best “Garden Fresh From Scratch Sweet Potato Pound Cake With Cream Cheese Filling” Of My Life!
This past weekend I traveled to visit my mother and my sister along with her family in Bedford. It was my first trip there since this summer when my mother moved to her new retirement home in the mountains. It is quite different from our east coast home of origin.
Usually at this time of year there are sweet potatoes to begin harvesting. I dug some of the earliest planted, but they were needing at least another few weeks to develop, so I took some and left the rest to grow until first frost, now around early to mid-November.
Not to arrive empty handed, I did have enough sweet potatoes to share in the form of this Cream Cheese Filled Sweet Potato Pound Cake. Now everyone can say they had some of my sweet potatoes, even if not found in the typical roasted or baked recipe. No marshmallows here!
I have to say that when you put out all of the ingredients, it looks like quite a complicated cake with lots of steps, lots of directions, lots of ingredients, lots of bowls, and lots of clean up afterwards. All of that is true, but the results are worth it.
This is what you might call a “Three Bowl and a Measuring Cup Cake” because if you think of it that way, it becomes much less complicated. The bowls in the photograph are three McCoy bowls that my mother gave me as part of her “down-sizing” when she moved.
Old bowls are the one thing that I collect. being utilitarian items, each bowl seems to have it’s own best special purpose. Some are best for holding keys and spare change. Others are best for loose nuts, bolts, and screws. These three bowls are best suited for making a cake!
Before you can even start to make the cake, you need to have some cooked sweet potatoes. Since that is going to add some time unless you have leftover sweet potatoes, this is also a good time to take out one 8 ounce package of creamed cheese, two sticks of unsalted butter, and five eggs. This will give them plenty of time to soften at room temperature.
Peel and cut up several sweet potatoes and steam for about 20 minutes. Steaming will keep more of the flavor inside than boiling will. Let cool in a small bowl on the counter. Once cooled, mash with a fork. The amount of mashing that you do will depend on your personal preference. I like seeing a few small pieces of sweet potato here and there, but not chunks!
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes at room temperature
into a glass measuring cup, even off to exactly the 2 cup mark, and set aside. This is what makes the cake “garden fresh.”
In the large bowl you will assemble all of the dry ingredients until they are ready to be combined with the wet ingredients. This is what you would normally buy in a box of cake mix. This is what makes the cake “from scratch.” In the large bowl measure out and place
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Blend these dry ingredients together with a spoon or spatula to get everything evenly distributed. Although you may leave out the cardamom, the cake will taste different without it. With just the cinnamon and nutmeg, the cake will have a typical “fall harvest” flavor which isn’t bad, but can be overdone especially during this time of the year. The cardamom changes the flavor and sort of rounds it out, keeping it more in line with a traditional pound cake.
In the medium bowl, first prepare the cream cheese filling. (This same bowl will later be used to assemble the wet ingredients of the cake.) Place and beat together with an electric mixer until smooth
8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
Transfer the cream cheese filling mixture to the small mixing bowl. You can use a spatula to get extra filling off of the beaters and sides of the bowl, but there is no need to clean them yet. Any of the filling mixture left on the beaters or in the bowl will not interfere with the cake’s wet ingredients.
This is a good time to butter and flour a 10-cup tube pan and clean up a little while preheating your oven to 350 degrees after adjusting your oven rack to accommodate the tube cake pan.
In the medium bowl place
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add, one at a time
Make sure that you beat well after adding each egg. Then beat in
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
You will now have four separate containers of ingredients that are ready to assemble and bake.
One large bowl with cake’s dry ingredients (the white bowl in the photograph)
One medium bowl with the cake’s wet ingredients (the green bowl in the photograph)
One small bowl with the cake’s filling (the pink bowl in the photograph)
One measuring cup with the mashed sweet potatoes
When you are ready to assemble and bake, add the creamed mixture in the medium bowl alternately with sweet potatoes in the measuring cup into the dry ingredients of the large bowl. Beat just until combined (batter will be stiff, about the consistency of premixed tile grout). Mix in any dry ingredients at the bottom with a spatula.
Use a spatula to add about slightly less than half of the cake batter to the pan. Because the batter is stiff, you shouldn’t be able to pour it, just sort of “plop and smooth out.” Use the spatula to form a sort of shallow ditch for the filling.
Add the filling from the small mixing bowl using the same “plop and smooth out” technique. It should be easier to work with than the cake batter.
Finish with the remaining cake batter from the large mixing bowl using the same “plop and smooth” technique. It may be best to work around the inner ring first and then the outer ring and then the top to help seal in the cream cheese filling.
I like to bang any cake pan down several times on my countertop to help release any air bubbles trapped in the cake, but honestly, with a cake batter this stiff, I’m not sure how useful that technique is for the end product. I do it anyway just because I like doing that step. It’s good to give it a little bang or two before and after adding the filling and then at the end. It’s sort of like tapping down the lid on a paint can with a hammer. It says “All done.”
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. For me, I alway have had to use the full 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and let cake finish cooling on rack. Once completely cooled, prepare and glaze the cake.
For the glaze, in a 2 cup measuring cup sift
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
and set aside for later.
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
and set aside.
Squeeze out the juice of
1 to 2 oranges
and bring to a light boil on stovetop to reduce the juice and intensify the orange flavor. You will probably have extra juice left over, but if using two oranges, you will have plenty to taste for the best intensity. By using two oranges, there would be enough juice to use with two cups of powdered sugar if you wanted to make extra. Who doesn’t like cake glaze?!?
Once you have the right orange flavor that you like, add
3 to 5 teaspoons orange juice
to the powdered sugar until smooth, stirring as you add so that you can judge the right pouring consistency (about like a gallon of quality house paint). Add grated orange peel.
Drizzle glaze over cake.