Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sweet Potato and Apricot Cake

This loaf cake was just what the doctor ordered! I found the recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog, though he says it is adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich. It helped us empty the pantry a bit by using up dried apricots and pecans (I’d say the latter are optional, but I didn’t mind them in this cake whereas I normally don’t like cakes with nuts, so it’s up to you). It allowed me to have some cream cheese frosting, now that Green Valley Organics make a lactose-free version. It was really good and not too sweet, which I liked. The cake itself was relatively nutritious, thanks to the sweet potato, which also served to keep the cake moist. I used all-purpose white flour for this (instead of the white whole wheat flour I normally use), because I figured there was enough fiber in this already and I didn’t want to make it heavier than necessary. It was pleasantly dense as it was. I also adapted it a bit, using apple juice instead of vermouth and baking it in a 9”x5” loaf pan instead of two 8”x4” pans – my version is below. Of course, the frosting is optional, but without it, I’d say this would be more of a breakfast item than a dessert.

For the cake
2/3 cup (4 oz./115 g.) finely-diced dried apricots
½ cup apple juice (or white vermouth)
2 cups (8 oz./225 g.) sifted all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature (I used cold margarine)
1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
½ cup (90 g.) packed light or dark brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg white, at room temperature (I used 2 eggs)
1 cup (240 g.) sweet potato purée (I roasted a sweet potato at 425 °F for 1 hour)
1 cup (125 g.) toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), coarsely chopped (optional)

For the cream cheese frosting
4 oz. (115 g.) lactose-free cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter or margarine, cubed, at room temperature
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
6 Tbsp. (52 g.) powdered sugar

To make the cake, marinate the apricot pieces in apple juice for at least 30 minutes. Drain, pressing the apricots gently to extract all the liquid. Reserve the liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour a 9”x5” loaf pan. (The original recipe only said to grease the pan, but some of my cake stuck to it, so I would definitely flour it as well next time.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

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.)

Mix in half of the flour mixture, then the drained vermouth and sweet potato purée, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts (if using) and apricots.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake about 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

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 cake and slip it out of the mold. Spread the cream cheese frosting on top with a knife or spatula. I kept the cake at room temperature for a few hours, then refrigerated it for a few days.

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