This week, I got some wonderful news. I went to the doctor to get the results of a biopsy that was done because there s a cyst in my breast. I was a bit nervous but the doctor had told me previously that he was 99% sure it was nothing but that he was following protocol. I entered the office, he took one look at me and said, “It is nothing! You are fine!” I was so happy I think everybody heard me saying, “Yahoooo!” as I was leaving! Honestly, I was so happy that I cried. Cancer runs in my family so I couldn’t help but feel euphoric. I decided to make a cake to celebrate and since it incorporates a fruit and vegetable, I can’t feel guilty about it, haha! (Aren’t fruits and vegetables recommended to help prevent cancer?)
This recipe is from David Lebovitz, whose recipes I really enjoy. I used a bundt cake pan and it took about an hour and fifteen minutes. Keep in mind that all ovens are different so do the toothpick test! If you make the bundt cake, halve the icing recipe!
Sweet Potato and Apricot Cake
Two 8-inch loaf cakes
Adapted from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich.
I usually oven-roasted sweet potatoes since it concentrates their flavor. So if you have the oven going for something else, you can prick them a few times with a paring knife, wrap them in foil, and bake until they are tender all the way through. (It’ll take about 45 minutes in a 400ºF/200ºC oven. When done, a knife should go all the way through, meeting no resistance.) Because I wasn’t planning on using the oven, I cooked the sweet potatoes in a microwave oven. Simply prick each 5 or 6 times with a paring knife, place them on a paper towel, and microwave them at high power for 5 minutes. Carefully turn them over then microwave for 3 to 5 more minutes, until they are cooked all the way through. Alice peels and cuts hers into chunks then simmers them in a saucepan with water, until tender – about 15 minutes, then drains them well. Press the pulp through a mesh strainer, potato ricer, or puree in a food mill or food processor. You can also use unsweetened canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree.
Note that the recipe calls for sifted flour. The best way to measure it is to put a 1 cup dry measuring cup on a piece of parchment paper, and sift the flour into the measuring cup, sweeping the top with a knife or flat spatula to level it. Leftover flour on the parchment paper can be dumped back into the flour container.
I baked my two loaves in 8-inch (20cm) foil loaf pans, because my regular loaf pans are somewhere else, along with my scale. You can also bake the cake batter in one deep, large 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan, although the result will be a hefty, dense loaf. It does turn out better if baked in two loaves. (You could also bake it in two 9-inch loaf pans. The cakes will be a little more squat, but will taste delicious.) I would imagine it could be baked in one bundt pan or regular cake pan. If so, bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For the cakes:
2/3 cup (4 ounces, 115g) finely-diced dried apricots, preferably California
1/2 cup (125ml) white vermouth
2 cups (8 oz, 225g) sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, preferablyaluminum-free
6 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (90g) packed light or dark brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 cup (240g) sweet potato puree
1 cup (125g) toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), coarsely chopped
For the cream cheese frosting:
8 ounces (225g) cream cheese, room temperature1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract3/4 cup (105g) powdered sugar
1. To make the cakes, marinate apricots pieces in vermouth for at least 30 minutes. Drain, pressing the apricots gently to extract all the liquid. Reserve the liquid.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Grease with non-stick spray or butter two 8-inch (20cm) loaf pans.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a flexible spatula or spoon, cream the butter with the granulated and brown sugars, and lemon zest, until smooth and fluffy. Add the egg and the egg white and combine thoroughly. If using a stand mixer, stop the mixer and scrape down the side to make sure everything is incorporated. (The mixture may look curdled, which is fine.)
5. Mix in half of the flour mixture, then the drained vermouth and sweet potato puree, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts and apricots.
6. Divide the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and bake about 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.
7. Once cool, make the cream cheese frosting by beating the cream cheese with the butter and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and lump free. Run a knife around the outside of the cakes and slip them out of the molds. Divide the cream cheese frosting on top of the cakes, spreading it with a knife or spatula.
Storage: Since the recipe makes two loaves, you can freeze a cake (without icing) if well-wrapped in plastic, for up to two months. If you only want to ice one cake, simply cut the cream cheese icing recipe in half. The cakes will keep for up to five days at room temperature but once iced, should be refrigerated if you plan to keep for more than one day.
Note: While I love the cream cheese frosting, the cake is excellent without it, too.
Enjoy! Xxxx Natascha