Recipe Box: Sweet Potato Cake Recipe and More

Please your guests with new cake and cookie recipes containing varied ingredients from navy beans to sweet potatoes to oatmeal.

Sweet Potato Cake

A cake recipe that uses leftover sweet potatoes.

Photo by Lori Dunn

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Cakes and Cookies Recipes

Sweet Potato Cake Recipe
Oatmeal Cake Recipe With Coconut and Walnut Frosting
Navy Bean-Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
Manor Bakery Applesauce Cake Recipe
Poke Cake Recipe
Applesauce Cake Recipe
Japanese Fruitcake Recipe

Desserts for Any Occasion

Cakes and cookies make excellent dessert choices. Your favorite recipe — whether it be on a recipe card or in a favorite cookbook — is undoubtedly splattered with cake batter or smeared with melted chocolate chips, and slightly stained, if the truth be known.

Perhaps it’s time to branch out and try some new recipes. Who knows? Your family and friends may find a new favorite they will clamor for at those rowdy potlucks.

Sweet potatoes are chock-full of nutrients, and while the sugar in the following cake recipe may negate this trait, they are low on the glycemic index. And here’s something you may not know: Sweet potatoes aren’t really potatoes. (For more on the sweet potato, check out Heirloom Varieties Perfect for Planting Sweet Potatoes.) The sweet potato is actually a member of the morning glory family, Ipomoea batatas, while the white potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a member of the nightshade family. I. batatas is native to the Americas with earliest known cultivation at around 2500 B.C. in Peru. So the plant was well-established in the 1400s when Columbus arrived, and when he returned to Europe, he took the vegetable with him. It quickly became a delicacy. 

As a side note, researchers now believe that the sweet potato made its way from South America to South Pacific islands several hundred years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic.

George Washington grew sweet potatoes at Mount Vernon. Decades later, George Washington Carver not only developed myriad uses for the peanut, he did the same for the sweet potato, developing 118 products.

While sweet potatoes are often called yams in the United States, true yams are an entirely different plant. Yams are native to Africa, and they have tough, scaly skins. They aren’t sweet either.

USDA regulations say that any vegetable identified as a yam also has to have “sweet potato” on the label. Most often, the two words are used to describe two different sweet potatoes: a firmer and paler version is usually termed a sweet potato, while the softer and more orange veggie is called a yam. They cook differently, and it’s likely that the casserole your Aunt Betty makes every Thanksgiving is prepared with the softer version of sweet potato known as a yam. Confused yet?

In any case, the sweet potato cake could become as popular as sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie. Try it and let us know what you think. Email comments, anecdotes or recipes using sweet potatoes to jteller@grit.com. We may use the information in upcoming issues.

Get started on a delicious 30-Day Friendship Cake.


Help Wanted

• R.T. Morton, Downingtown, Pennsylvania, would like a recipe for canning whole Seckel pears. “My grandmother would can Seckel pears, and I remember that the canned pears were sweet and thick. I have no idea how she did this, but three of the ingredients were orange peel, a cinnamon stick, and the Seckel pears,” R.T. says.

Editor’s Note: Seckel pears are small and round, with an olive-green skin that frequently comes with a dark maroon blush. The small size allows these pears to be canned whole. And a history note: These pears may be the only true North American variety of the fruit. Discovered in the early 1800s, Seckels may have originated as a wild seedling near Philadelphia. It’s also possible the seeds were scattered or fruit dropped by immigrants heading West. Do you have any other recipes using pears (any variety)? A crumble or crisp? Strudel? Bread? Tart or pie? Candied? Jams or jellies? Part of an entrée?

• Jewell Wainwright-Horne, Avalon, Texas, says her grandmother used to make an apple dessert, similar to a cobbler, that included cinnamon red hot candies. The candies turned the apples a delicate pink and gave them a cinnamon flavor. She thinks there were drop-type dumplings instead of a crust.

What are your favorite apple desserts? Any cobbler, cake or dumpling recipes? Recipes that include any type of candy?


If you’ve been looking for a long-lost recipe, or can provide one, please send an email to recipebox@grit.com, or write to Recipe Box, c/o Grit, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Email is our preferred method of communication. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number on any correspondence. Recipes cannot be returned. Addresses are not printed to allow us the opportunity to publish recipes before sending them on to the requesting party.