Monday, November 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Spelt Rum Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Ganache

I had several sweet potatoes in my pantry that were yearning to be cooked, and I went back and forth in my head as to whether to bake a pie, or a cheesecake. I eventually settled on a bundt-cake, since it was more amenable to vegan alternatives, and also baking a cake would require  less effort than a cheesecake, as with the latter I would have had to prepare the cookie crust in addition to the batter.  

First, a few notes:

Most recipes with sweet potatoes, as with most fall ingredients, have added cinnamon, or a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg as default spices. But you will not see any cinnamon in most of my dessert recipes,  because in my opinion it is so overpowering, that you mostly taste the cinnamon and not the main flavor after which the recipe is named, whether pumpkin,  sweet potato, or apples.

In the US, cinnamon is so widely used as a default ingredient to accompany certain fillings, that people are probably so used to it that they don’t realize that it actually covers, rather than enhance, the main flavor. Many may disagree with me on this, and perhaps, in part because cinnamon evokes childhood memories, from the first gingerbread, to s’mores around a campfire, to grandma’s homemade apple pie. But to me, it is so pervasive, that I like to escape from it, and I do so in my kitchen.  

So this sweet potato recipe is sans powdered spices, but it has freshly grated ginger instead,  although you can substitute or add the other spices as dictated by your taste buds.    

If you cannot do without cinnamon or nutmeg, I would recommend at least  using real cinnamon sticks and pulverize them in a mortar and pestle, and use real nutmeg and grate it on the spot. I would stay away from store-bought powdered spices, as most of them have a stale undertone.  

For this recipe, I used mostly spelt flour, since I was low on all-purpose flour and I wanted to bake my cake right then, without needing another grocery trip.  Using spelt flour  increases the nutritional value of this dessert, as it is rich in minerals, such as copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus, and also dietary fiber. But by all means, you can opt for an all white all-purpose flour cake.

I am also listing vegan alternatives in the ingredients, for an equally amazing vegan cake option.

Here I used the creaming method of mixing the mashed potatoes and oil with the sugar, and then adding the eggs.  I am certain that the egg foaming method, in which the eggs are beaten with the sugar first, will yield an equally awesome cake.  I just went with what I felt most comfortable with, but I may try the foaming method next time, just to see which one I prefer.

Lastly, I use about half the sugar of most recipes, which call for 2 cups, whereas I use 1 cup. You can probably go somewhere in between, but 2 cups is way too much sugar in my opinion.


1 ½ cup of sifted spelt flour
½ cup of sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of wheat germ
1 tablespoon baking powder (or 1 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda)
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups of mashed, sweet potatoes
3 eggs
⅔  cup of dark rum
½  room temperature water (for a vegan option) or milk
¾  cups of brown sugar
¼ cup of granulated sugar
¾  cup vegetable oil (for a vegan option) or melted unsalted butter, or ½ oil ½ butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

For the chocolate ganache:

About 4.4  ounces of dark chocolate (I used 10 squares of Trader Joes’ "Pound Plus Imported from Belgium dark chocolate")
1 tablespoon of corn syrup or agave nectar
about 4 tablespoons of sour cream
water or milk as needed, to dilute the ganache

Special equipment: bundt pan


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 10-cup bundt pan with melted butter or oil spray. I recommend brushing the oil or butter in every nook and cranny of the bundt pan with a kitchen brush.  Covering every area of the bundt pan will ensure that parts of your cake will not stick to the pan when you flip it over after baking. Also, before flouring the pan, make sure that all the extra grease has dripped off of it, otherwise you will end up with little puddles of grease at the bottom of the pan, which will result in flattened peaks. Once the pan is evenly coated with the oil or butter, then add some flour and ensure it coats the whole pan. Remove excess flour by flipping the pan over the sink and tapping it gently. Now the pan is ready for the batter.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt. Set the mixture aside. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the the sweet potatoes, the oil (or melted butter) and sugar using an electric mixer, until smooth. Mix in the  rum, grated ginger,  and water (or milk). Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Do not overmix. Beat in the vanilla. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Again, do not overmix. Fold in the dried fruit.  Transfer batter to the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let the cake cool in the tin for 15 minutes and invert onto a serving platter or cake stand.

While the cake is cooling, make the ganache:
Melt the chocolate and milk, or water,  in a saucepan on low heat directly on the stove  or double boiler. While whisking constantly, add the syrup and the sour cream and continue whisking until well incorporated. If it’s very runny, let it sit for a minute or so to thicken, if it’s too dense, add more milk or water and whisk again until incorporated. Drizzle over the cake.

For a vegan alternative, omit the sour cream and use vegan chocolate. I do not have experience with vegan sour cream so I am not sure how it would fare being heated.

Lastly, instead of chocolate ganache, one can drizzle with a rum glaze, which can be made with vegan butter.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
2 to 3 tablespoons dark rum
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan with the rum. Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

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