February 23, 2011

Golden cake

Remember the cake and frosting I described in my last post? That cake had palm sugar* and chocolate-sweet potato frosting, and was my idea of a perfect-tasting cake — not too sweet with a delicate, caramel-y flavor and fudgy frosting. I loved it, and I'm sharing the cake recipe today but with a slight change. The cake calls for evaporated cane juice instead of jaggery. It's easier to find and it makes a sweeter cake, but use whichever you feel most attracted to.

The frosting was made from Ricki's (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) recipe (sort of) and was creamy and delicious. Who would ever guess it was made from sweet potato?

The cake was served Feb. 14 at a small dinner with Miss E, her parents and my husband and me, to celebrate Miss E's third birthday.

Moist to the last drop.

Two days ago, Miss E had her "official" birthday party, and I made another cake for the occasion. I'm not a creative cake decorator — I admit that freely — but I wanted the cake embellishments to be a little more exciting than my usual sprinkle of coconut. I wasn't thinking of anything fancy, understand, but maybe a covering of chocolate disks similar to the button cakes my husband favored as a child.

By serendipity, I discovered a small, funky, quirky, totally spectacular cake decorating store in Maple Leaf, about 10 minutes drive from where we live, and we headed there to find the disks. Yikes! If you can't find what you want in this crazy, crowded shop, called Home Cake Decorating, it probably doesn't exist.

Even the very knowledgeable proprietor was decorated — with sparkles on her face. No kidding. I saw every cake pan I've ever coveted, plus endless decorating supplies. There was a customer at the checkout counter who had driven 70 miles to get there, and who was purchasing fondant and other supplies that I could only stare at in wonder. I wouldn't even know how to ask for half the stuff that's for sale. I did ask for dairy-free disks, and bought a bagful. I also bought a package of very cute flower candles.

Now back to the cake. Instead of palm sugar, the party cake and frosting were made with evaporated cane juice, to make them a little sweeter. To me, the cake tasted too sweet, but not to anyone else, so it's a matter of personal choice.

Early Sunday morning I baked a cake in a 7-inch by 2-inch straight-sided round cake pan, and the results made me think the pan was too small. The center caved in just a little and didn't look baked enough, even though a toothpick came out dry. (After tasting the cake the next day, I realized it was fine.) And part of the cake's side kind of detached a little when I removed the cake from the pan. I guess I could have glued it all back together with frosting, but I wanted the cake to be good, and you can't exactly cut a slice and try it. I decided to re-make the cake. Tsk.

7x2 Fat Daddio's on left, 6x2 Wilton (from Goodwill!) on right.

I sent my husband out to a kitchen store to find a bigger pan, but after an unsuccessful attempt to find the same pan I had in an 8-inch size (it was Sunday and the cool cake decorating store was closed), I used a 9-inch slightly flared pan that I already had. I split the single layer and put frosting between the two halves, but it still looked a little flat to me.

I really like the Fat Daddio's straight-sided anodized aluminum pans that come in a 3-inch height, and am going to get an 8-inch one for next time. Though the cake baked perfectly in the 9-inch standard cake pan, I like the added height and straight sides of the 3-inch-high pans.

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened orange juice concentrate
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or non-dairy of choice)
  • 1-2/3 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached if you must)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I use an evaporated cane juice) or grated palm sugar for a less-sweet cake
  • 1 level teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons oil (I used sunflower)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract
  1. Place the orange juice in a one cup liquid measure and add almond milk to make one cup. Let it sit while you measure the dry ingredients.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, if using, into a bowl. (Be sure to stir up the flour and add it to the measuring cup then level the cup with a knife.) If you don't feel like sifting, you can add the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk them together well.
  3. Stir the milk to dissolve the juice concentrate, then add the extracts.
  4. Make two wells in the dry mix and add the oil to one and the vinegar to the other.
  5. Pour the milk over all and mix well.
  6. Immediately pour into a greased 8x3-inch or 9x2-inch pan, and bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until done. (A toothpick should come out clean or with a crumb or two attached.)
  7. Let the cake cool in the pan five minutes before carefully removing to finish cooling on a rack.
  8. When cool, split the cake into two layers, and frost between the layers and the top and sides of the cake, or eat as is. (I find the easiest way to split a cake is with a long, serrated bread knife. Place the layer on a plate. Start cutting a few inches into the cake, turning the plate as you go so you can cut along the center line and keep the halves equal. When you've cut all around the cake, use the cut line as your guide and cut all the way through the cake to make two equal layers.)
I used this recipe with many ingredient changes, but followed the directions. I used one cup of baked sweet potato, though you could probably use more if your potato is bigger, six tablespoons of evaporated cane juice (or grated palm sugar), 1/4 cup of cacao powder, 1/4 cup of almond butter, one tablespoon of coconut oil , two squares of semi-sweet non-dairy baking chocolate (56 grams), and two teaspoons of vanilla extract. The first three ingredients get emulsified in a food processor. The next three get melted in a small pan and added to the processor with the vanilla. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of milk to get the spreading consistency just right. (See Ricki's blog for the stellar original version and complete directions.) I whipped mine in a mixer but I think the food processor works fine, if you don't have a mixer. The frosting firms up beautifully on the cake.

In other words, I took Ricki's lovely, carefully constructed ACD-friendly, allergy-friendly recipe and turned it into ... something else. And it was GOOD! Though it may not be as healthy as the original, I still think it may be healthier than frosting made from mostly margarine and sugar, and it tastes great. You will surely notice that Ricki's frosting looks a lot better than mine, because she obviously has a knack for cake decorating.

*I'm re-posting my blurb about jaggery for anyone who may have missed it and is interested.
Jaggery is an unrefined form of sweetener that may be made from the boiled sap of sugarcane, sago palm, arenga pinnatasago palm, date palm, sugar date palm or coconut palm, with date palm being the most prized. It is usually found as a large solid cone, or as rectangular chunks, but can also be found in a granulated form. Jaggery is the most popular kind of sweetener in West Bengal, South India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Also known as known as gur in India, panela in South America, piloncillo in Mexico, hakuru in Sri Lanka, it comes in various shapes and sizes, varies in color from light to dark brown, and can range from dry to sticky. It has a rich, caramel-y flavor that is less sweet than white sugar. Coconut sugar is low on the glycemic index, and is one of the latest "healthy" sweeteners to hit the natural foods market. (The information available about the sources of jaggery is a little confusing, so I've done my best to summarize and present what I've uncovered.)

This is one of Miss E's party guests, making himself right at home.


The hat

Remember the hat I crocheted (and ripped, and crocheted, ripped and crocheted) for Miss E? Here she is wearing it on a short vacation she took with her parents to go snowshoeing and sledding in the mountains.


Testing for Urban Vegan

This is a very delicious version of shepherd's pie called Indian shepherd's pie.


  1. baked sweet potato frosting?! i love it! your cake turned out so so cute, and it looks ultra-yummy.

    i posted my recipe for huckleberry muffins the other day...i think you asked to see it forever ago when you posted about huckleberries, then i mentioned it in a comment.

  2. love the close-up of that golden cake. i liked the ingredient list for it too. the jaggery, is it expensive?i only ask because i feel like you are pretty into it and wont mind me asking.i love how you guys prolong a birthday:) im all over that!!

  3. That cake looks delicious, and the frosting looks so rich and chocolatey! I love how you decorated it, those little flower candles are adorable! And wow, that cake decorating store is really quite something. I'd feel lost, but I'd have a lot of fun looking! :-) We saw a really cute cake mold in our local kitchen shop recently - made a cake that looked like a bee hive, complete with little cake bees on it. And the picture with it showed additional bees made of fondant or marzipan decorating it too. So cute!

    E really looks adorable in that hat you made, and seems to enjoy modeling it! And I love her party guest, getting into the spirit of the celebration and even, apparently, providing musical entertainment on the squeeze box. Love the bunny ears! LOL!

  4. I think your cake is beautiful--love the inside shots! And I, too, would be ga-ga at that sotre. I love cake decorating (that may be the one thing I miss about having a bakery). Miss E is too adorable! :D

  5. That cake looks amazing! (And that cake store has me drooling, too!) I think it looks lovely just as it is, even if it didn't rise as high as you'd have liked. You can always add a teaspoon of baking powder next time you make it; but I think it's perfect already. Can't wait to try the recipe!

  6. Emily,
    This is now my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes! I'm off to check out your recipe, though it may be a while before I see another huckleberry.

    I don't think the jaggery was expensive, though I honestly don't remember. It probably kind of depends on where you buy it — at a specialty gourmet store or an Asian market. This wasn't organic coconut sugar from a natural foods store but rather everyday jaggery from an Indian market. I can't really vouch for its quality but the taste was good. :)

    Miss E probably believes that every day is her birthday — and she's not complaining.

    I did feel a little lost in the store, even though it was very, very small. I was kind of out of my element, but also mesmerized by the excess of possibilities. I think the store was a little like a bee hive!

    Miss E's party guest is my youngest son. I hope he doesn't mind seeing his photo pop up in my post.

    My cake was fun, if not beautiful. Maybe I should have sprinkled a little coconut over the top. :D

    I'll bet your bakery cakes were wonderful. I used to decorate cakes with fresh flowers from my garden, even growing nasturtiums for that purpose, and they looked great. I should try piping the frosting and see what happens.

    Thanks! The cake rose as high as it should have in the 9-inch pan, without spilling over the top! I wanted to use a smaller circumference pan with a higher side, to get a smaller but higher cake.

  7. That cake sounds so good!

  8. Cake looks marvellous and I could go crazy in that shop. Wow!

  9. The cake looks delicious! love the flower candles on top too. I can much go crazy in any type of food store, doesn't even matter if I have no idea what to do with it. I just want it, whatever it is. :-)

  10. Melody,

    I FELT crazy in the shop but I stayed in control and only let myself buy two things. :)

    Chow vegan,
    I know just what you mean. I wanted a lot of things in the store — especially a pan for making square muffins, butterfly cake decorations, tiny fondant cutters (even though I never make fondant) ...

  11. Wait, there's an entire shop dedicated to decorating cakes? That is some kind of awesome; I'll have to check it out...who knew?

    Thanks for sharing the cake recipe! I love the frosting idea.

    I love the pics of the bunny-eared party guest (your son?) and Miss in her hat. Very cute.

  12. Rose,
    Yes there is — right in Maple Leaf. It's called Home Cake Decorating Supply Co., and if you need anything related to baking, including naked dolls for your cake top, this is the place to find it. You have to go there!

  13. MMMMM I love shepherd's pie. Must make some.

    Thanks for the cake recipe! I'm feeling a little guilty that it was just my son's birthday and I did NOT make him a (gluten-free) cake. I am taking him out to dinner tomorrow though!

  14. Love the cake. Adorable!

  15. Any recipe with sweet potatoes makes me happy! Nice to see them featured!

  16. Claire,
    It was an especially spicy and interesting pie — made with tempeh and broccoli with lots of Indian spices.

    He'll probably forgive you about the cake, and I know he'll get to pick a favorite spot for dinner. Green Owl has gluten-free food. :D

    Thank you! It is what it is. :)

    This is a new way of using sweet potatoes for me. I never would have thought of it on my own, but it opens all sorts of possibilities. The closest thing I've made was sweet potato pie, but it wasn't chocolate. :)

  17. Ok Andrea,
    Did it really not taste like Sweet Potato at all?
    Love that the hat is being enjoyed!

  18. Abby,
    Not at all. I swear. You might need to make it a little sweeter to keep your sweet tooth happy, but that's really easy to do. I've made it with tahini instead of almond butter and they both seem pretty neutral. The taste was chocolate with a tiny hint of coconut.

  19. This is hands down one of the most adorable cakes I have ever seen. I absolutely love those candles.
    It sounds extremely delicious too!

  20. What a pretty cake! Happy B-day, Miss E!

  21. Finally, a place to buy naked dolls for cakes! lol...

    Actually, I worked my way through college in a bakery (Madison Pk Bakery) and we used the naked dolls for "Barbie Doll" cakes...the doll was stuck on top of the cake and then her dress was done in frosting...now that I think of it, rather a risque cake for tykes. And I duly noted there was no "Ken" equivalent, probably a small mercy! ;0

  22. SArah,
    Thank you. Thank you. The candles were so cute — they really were the main decoration. :)

    Miss E thanks you. She probably thinks it's still her birthday!

    Ha! But did you give the Barbie dress a top, too? Hmmm, with the addition of a naked to the waist ken, you could make quite a cake! You must have lots of practice in cake decorating. The sweet potato frosting would pipe beautifully, I'm sure, in the hands of an experienced decorator like yourself. :)

  23. I'm mesmerized by how thick that frosting is on that cut slice. Yum. And sweet potato - I am so going to try this. I love, love your cake. And I would love, love that store. I have quite a little collection of fun, decorating products. There is a lot of cuteness in this post (especially from Miss E).

  24. I think I once saw jaggery at an Indian store. It sounds like a really great sweetener. And that cake...what can I say, it looks perfect!

  25. Jenny,
    You should do a blog post on your cake-decorating collection — I know I'd love to see it. I feel very inadequate in the area of cake decorating but I love to see what more clever people do. I'm happy with my low-level cakes, but I like to be impressed with possibilities. :) As for the frosting, Ricki has forever changed the way I make it. Yay sweet potatoes! (I always knew they were good for something.)

    Jaggery is great for those who like their sugar less sweet with undertones of vanilla and caramel. It's great in savory dishes, too, where you want to balance tangy or spicy flavors.

  26. Hi! I love your golden cake!It's wonderful!^__^ I discover your blog right now and I like it!!! I'm Vegan and I have a blog equoecoevegan.blogspot.com…come in and leave me your review about it! Bye ^__^

  27. Kia,
    Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Frosting made with sweet potato?! I can't wait to try that. I love eating sweet treats while getting my veggies at the same time. I hope Miss E had a fun birthday!

  29. Kiersten,
    I made this again yesterday with two sweet potatoes but everything else the same, because I wanted a LOT of frosting. It was so creamy and delicious, I couldn't believe it.

  30. Wow it's mouth watering cake really !!! dont know how it tastes, but it sure looks yummy. Nice to know the different variety'of cake from that side of the world through your blog.:)
    Presentation is just superb specially that toppings on the top.It gives an amazing look to the cake..


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