Sweet Potato Cake

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I am not exaggerating when I say this sweet potato cake is perfect. It’s sweet (but not overly so), beautifully buttery, spiced (but not in an overpowering way), and topped with an orange glaze that is a lovely compliment to the other flavors.

Sweet potato Bundt cake on cake stand with a slice on a plate in front of it

The recipe for this cake came from the book, Southern Sugar, by Belinda Smith-Sullivan. I was given permission to share it from the publisher, Gibbs Smith.

When I bake recipes from cookbooks, I always want to change them. I wanted to reduce the sugar a little, add more pecans, and add spices other than the cardamom the recipe called for, but I’m so glad I left it exactly as it is written. It is a masterpiece. I can’t wait to try all of the other recipes in the book!

Ingredients

Overhead shot of sweet potato cake ingredients

You’ll need mashed, baked sweet potato for this recipe. Any variety will work. I advise against buying canned sweet potato/yams as they often come in a syrup.

Bake the sweet potato in the oven – not the microwave. It dramatically impacts the texture and taste. To bake it:

  1. Put the sweet potato on a cookie sheet and bake for about 90 minutes at 350 F.
  2. After that, the skin should easily fall off and you’ll be able to mash the sweet potato in a bowl.

The only spice in this recipe is cardamom. It works so well in this cake, giving it a vibrant complex flavor. However, if cardamom isn’t your thing, you could use cinnamon or even pumpkin pie spice.

You’ll need buttermilk for this cake. If you don’t have it, you can use this substitution:

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.
  2. Add whole milk up to the 1/3 cup called for in this recipe.
  3. Let it sit for five minutes before using.

The chopped pecans add texture to the cake, but they can certainly be left out if you are serving to anyone with nut allergies.

How It’s Made

Start by mixing room-temperature butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This takes about three minutes on high speed in an electric mixer. Then, mix in eggs (one at a time), vanilla, and sweet potatoes.

Adding mashed sweet potatoes to a KitchenAid mixer with a blade raised

Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom) to the wet ingredients a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Three additions works well for this, but if you do two or four, it doesn’t really matter. Stop mixing as soon as everything is just combined as overmixing can lead to a gummy cake.

Adding flour from a spoon to batter in a KitchenAid mixer

Fold in chopped pecans.

Pouring pecans into a glass mixing bowl filled with batter

Pour the batter into a 12 cup Bundt pan that has been both greased and floured. Don’t skip the flouring! The combination of greasing and flouring will help make sure that the cake easily releases from the pan.

Filling a greased and floured Bundt pan with batter

Bake at 350 F for 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Wait 10 minutes, and then invert onto a cooling rack.

Once the cake is cool, glaze with a mixture of orange juice and sifted powdered sugar. You may need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar in the recipe depending on the humidity in your area. The glaze should be quite thick so that it drips very slowly, rather than pours, down the side of the cake. Spoon the glaze in a ring along the top of the cake and let it slowly drip down the cake’s side.

Glazed sweet potato cake on a cake stand with several pieces on white plates in front of it

Expert Tips and FAQs

How long does this cake last for?

It lasts about five days in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze it for months.

Can I make this cake with pumpkin instead of sweet potato?

Sure! It would be great with pumpkin.

How can I decorate this cake?

In Southern Sugar, the cake is decorated with candied orange peel. I chose to just use a glaze. You could also use candied orange slices or decorate with sprinkles like my pumpkin Bundt cake.

Close up shot of a slice of cake with another slice and a section of the full cake showing the background

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Glazed sweet potato cake on a cake stand with several pieces on white plates in front of it
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5 from 2 votes

Sweet Potato Cake

I am not exaggerating when I say this sweet potato cake is perfect. It's sweet (but not overly so), beautifully buttery, spiced (but not in an overpowering way), and topped with an orange glaze that is a lovely compliment to the other flavors.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 449kcal
Author Stefani

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pureed sweet potato Bake 1 pound sweet potato at 350 F for about 90 minutes. When done, remove from the oven, remove skin, mash and measure out the two cups.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Instructions

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix butter, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer for about three minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in eggs one at a time until fully combined.
  • Mix in vanilla and sweet potato.
  • In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.
  • Alternatively, add flour mixture and buttermilk to the wet ingredients. Do this in about three additions making sugar the batter is just combined between each addition.
  • Fold in pecans.
  • Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and pour batter into the pan.
  • Bake for 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out dry.
  • Wait 10 minutes and then invert the cake onto a cooling rack.
  • Let the cake sit for at least two hours to cool before glazing.

Glaze Instructions

  • Mix powdered sugar and orange juice.
  • Add more powdered sugar as needed to make a thick glaze that falls very slowly off of a spoon.
  • Spoon glaze in a circle over the top of the cake and let it drip down the inside and outside of the Bundt.
  • Once the glaze has hardened (about 30 minutes), slice and serve.

Notes

The recipe for this cake came from the book, Southern Sugar, by Belinda Smith-Sullivan. I was given permission to share it from the publisher, Gibbs Smith.
The cake lasts about five days in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze it for months.

Nutrition

Calories: 449kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 144mg | Potassium: 207mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 2801IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 2mg
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