Goodness, it’s been a while since I showed some signs of life, hasn’t it? I previously mentioned that things were likely to be a bit quiet as I knuckled down and got on with this whole MSc thesis-writing lark,* however I didn’t quite expect to more or less completely disappear from the online world (with the exception of Instagram – have I ever mentioned my addiction?). A scheduled post about one of the best cakes ever (shameless plug, what?) not going up several weeks ago (let’s pretend that I didn’t only just notice today) rather helped to reinforce this absence. I am, however, still alive and kicking. I’ve been baking, too, to de-stress a bit and take a break from thesis-writing. I just haven’t had the time to take any half-decent photos or write recipes up. Or collate any Sunday Smiles posts either for that matter.
Whilst Microsoft Word and Excel get their act together, unfreeze and stop repeatedly crashing on me (I’ve had a fantastic morning…), I thought I’d share this utterly amazing kumara, cardamom & chocolate cake with you. Anybody thinking that kumara is some terribly exotic, amazing new ingredient that’ll be impossible to find in a normal shop, it’s just the Kiwi (and Australian I think?) name for sweet potato. Rather conveniently, the challenge letter for AlphaBakes happens to be “K,” so I’m sending this cake in as my entry to Caroline Makes, this month’s host.
After a classic case of forgetting to check a recipe for quantities before going shopping and consequently overestimating the amount, I ended up with some surplus orange kumara the other day and decided that some cake was in order. I dug out a recipe that I’ve had bookmarked since last year, and threw some chocolate in, just because I could. I added some cinnamon in too, since I’m actually incapable of not adding cinnamon to pretty much everything during autumn and winter (in spring and summer I only add it to about 50% of everything… I might have a cinnamon problem). The cake came out wonderfully moist and utterly scrumptious – the combination of kumara and cardamom was a pleasant discovery for me. The cake also happens to be gluten-free, but you’d never guess it (I feel gluten-free baking has a reputation for rather heavy and dry results, but I haven’t dabble much with gluten-free, so I could be wrong). Suffice to say, the lab loved it.
Kumara, cardamom & chocolate cake
Adapted from The KitchenMaid
I’m rather liberal with spices, so if you’re not into strong flavours, you may wish to reduce the cardamom down to 3 tsp. I’ve yet to locate good quality dark chocolate chips (with more than 70% cocoa) that aren’t overly sweet, so I prefer using good dark chocolate and just chopping it up myself, however if you do have good dark chocolate chips, feel free to use them. This cake also works as loaves or mini loaves (great for breakfast…), though the baking times will have to be adjusted (probably around 50 mins for two loaves or about 35 mins as mini loaves, though don’t hold me to that). The drizzle is, of course, optional. The cake will keep for a few days in an airtight box.
For the cake:
450g orange kumara (sweet potato)
150g dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips (at least 70%)
300g unsalted butter, softened
300g caster sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs, room temperature
225g ground almonds
4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
For the drizzle (optional):
100g icing sugar
¾ tsp ground cardamom
Just under 1 tbsp boiling water
To prepare the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 205°C/fan 185°C.
2. Scrub the kumara and pierce the skin several times with a fork. Place on a baking tray and roast for about 40 mins until there’s no resistance when a knife is inserted through the thickest part. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it can be handled. Peel the skin off and mash the flesh in a small bowl with a fork – you should have around 325g of cooked flesh. Set aside.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 195°C/fan 175°C. Line the bottom of a 24cm round cake tin with baking paper.
4. If using chocolate and not chocolate chips, chop the chocolate up and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, adding about 1 tbsp of ground almond with each egg (this will help prevent the mixture from curdling).
6. Add the remaining ground almonds, the spices, baking powder, salt, mashed kumara and chopped-up chocolate and stir together with a spatula or spoon. Evenly pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1h-1h10, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (if the cake starts to brown a little too much on top, just cover it with aluminium foil). Allow to cool for 10 mins in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
To prepare the drizzle:
7. Once the cake has cooled fully, add all the drizzle ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour into a freezer bag, snip a small corner off and drizzle over the cake.
*Heavy sarcasm alert. It’s anything but a lark, just in case anybody was unsure.