I interviewed CakeLove bakery owner Warren Brown when he was in town Tuesday talking to small business owners.The D.C.-based attorney-turned-baker has a new cookbook called "United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State."
To see the story I wrote about Brown, go to www.newsobserver.com/life/
The one recipe he returns to again and again is the recipe for Sweet Potato Cake with Canned-Milk Cream-Cheese Frosting. Here it is:
Brown urges bakers to use a scale instead of measuring cups but his recipes reflect both options.
Sweet Potato Cake
20 ounces, about 5 medium, sweet potatoes
2 1/2 ounces, or 5 tablespoons, unsalted butter for rubbing potatoes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces or 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ounce or 3 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/2 ounces or 1 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
8 ounces or 1 cup unsalted butter
16 ounces or 2 cups superfine granulated sugar
4 ounces or 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
8 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces or 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces or 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
12 ounces or 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon orange juice
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees and place the rack in the middle position.
RINSE and pierce each sweet potato a few times with a fork, rub it with 1 tablespoon of butter, and wrap it in foil. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Reduce the oven temperature to 335 degrees. Grease two 9-by-2-inch round pans and line bottoms with parchment.
AFTER potatoes are cool, scoop out flesh and puree in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
COMBINE puree, buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl. Combine dry ingredients except the pecans in another bowl. Set aside.
CREAM 8 ounces of butter and white and brown sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes.
ADD dry ingredients and the sweet potato mixture, alternating between the two. Add about a third of each at a time without pausing between additions.
STOP mixer and fold in the pecans using a flexible spatula.
DIVIDE batter betwen the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs.
LEAVE cakes in the pans until the pans cool enough to handle, then invert them onto a rack. Use an offset spatula to release the cakes, if necessary.
WHIP cream cheese in the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
ADD butter and brown sugar and mix until smooth. Add confectioner's sugar and beat at high speed for 3 minutes.
ADD evaporated milk, salt and orange juice. Beat thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes.
LET cakes cool completely before using the frosting to assemble a layer cake.
Makes one 9-inch layer cake.