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Can You Dig What They've Done to These Sweet Potatoes?

February 9, 2012
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Root vegetables, as featured in the main story this week, clearly have considerable versatility. They can be utilized to create a main or side dish, to fill a sandwich with bursts of flavor, and can even get a pleasant workout when it comes to dessert.

Sweet potatoes, of all such vegetables, have become popular in today's cuisines. Sweet-potato fries may even be overcoming that great old standard, the french fry. Sweet potato pies, when done right, can leave pumpkin pies in their wake.

So now try this versatile tuber in a cake. The American South has long known of this sweet delicacy. Now, perhaps, the rest of the country can become acquainted with its textural riches.

Sweet Potato Layer Cake

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 and 1/2 cups finely shredded uncooked sweet potato (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup hot water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups cake flour
3 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat oil and sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sweet potato, water and vanilla; mix well.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; fold into the sweet potato mixture.

Combing flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; add to the potato mixture. Stir in pecans.

Pour into three greased 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 22 to 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

For Frosting: Melt butter in a sauce pan; whisk in sugar, milk and egg yolks until smooth.

Cook and stir over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat; stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool slightly.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with a third of the frosting. Repeat layers.

Serves 10 to 12.

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