I’m always looking for new and wonderful ways to use streusel. You might even say I’m streusel-obsessed. So when I picked up Miranda Crouse’s Easy Cake Cookbook, the Sweet Potato Streusel Cake immediately caught my eye. (She calls it sweet potato coffee cake, but no matter. The streusel is front-and-center in this fall brunch delight.) This moist cake topped with crisp streusel is a winner in my book.
[Disclosure – I received a copy of Miranda’s book from her publisher for review purposes. I was not financially compensated for this post and the views expressed are entirely my own.]
Although intrigued by the idea of a sweet potato cake, I was uncertain how the vegetable would work. It turned out to be a remarkable addition. While none of my tasters could specifically identify the sweet potato taste, all agreed that the cake had a delightful, mellow undertone. Color-wise, the bright orange sweet potato turned the finished cake a golden orange. The cake texture was appealing too. Less dense than a pound cake or even a “regular” all-flour cake, it stayed moist for several days covered on my counter.
Easy Cake Cookbook
Miranda, the creator of Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt, filled this cookbook with what she calls “sinfully simple” recipes. This woman has a talent for baking scrumptious desserts – no doubt about that. The 7-chapter paperback has chapters on 5 types of cakes: coffee cakes, bundt cakes, snacking cakes, skillet cakes and little cakes. That last category includes mug cakes and those made in ramekins or mini-bundt or cake tins. Each chapter had at least one recipe that attracted me. For a single topic cookbook, that’s an excellent batting average.
Apart from the sweet potato streusel cake, I honed in on two skillet cakes, a snack cake, and a super-simple mug cake. I figure I’ll find many volunteers to try the cinnamon roll skillet cake, the blueberry skillet cake, and the cranberry-ginger snack cake. The nutella mug cake is single serving, so my beloved can take that one on all alone. If you doubt Miranda’s baking chops, check out the Fudgy Crackled Chocolate Cookies that I made from her earlier Easy Homemade Cookie Cookbook.
Making Sweet Potato Streusel Cake
The Sweet Potato Streusel Cake is infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. It has a thin layer of cinnamon and sugar running through the center and a crispy streusel topping. The thin cinnamon and sugar stream through the middle is nice, but optional in my view. The base is made with oil, not butter. According to Epicurious, that accounts for the moist, light texture. Using mashed sweet potatoes as part of the base, it is a perfect post-Thanksgiving or Christmas brunch treat. Just save a small amount of the sweet potatoes you would otherwise put in a casserole for dinner and you can whip up this cake in a jiffy.
The cake involves a bunch of ingredients. But never fear – they will not require you to hunt in exotic places for them. Except for the sweet potato (equivalent to 1 large potato), they are all pantry staples for anyone who bakes.
Made in a 9-by-13-inch pan, the recipe says it serves 12. After initial servings that size, over the course of several days, we helped ourselves to much smaller slivers. In my world this cake serves 16-20. Of course, you can always make it for a smaller group and freeze leftovers.
The streusel is easy to make. Miranda uses a mixer, but I prefer to mix with a fork and then my hands. Either way does not take long or involve any difficult techniques or serious baking skills. You make the dense batter by alternating dry and wet ingredients, mixing them well and spreading them in the pan. The only tricky part of the recipe is smoothing out the batter. It is thick, so you’ll need to do that with a spatula and maybe a butter knife. The batter does not even itself out, nor can you do it by tipping the pan.
I provide the recipe below using Miranda’s directions, with a few notes reflecting my own techniques and experiences. Also, I corrected 2 small, editorial errors in the recipe, a typo in the pan size and a reference to the batter as including butter, which it does not.
Sweet Potato Streusel Cake
A scrumptious brunch cake featuring mashed sweet potato with a crisp streusel topping.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt preferably kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the flour, butter, granulated and brown sugars, cinnamon, and salt together until the butter is well incorporated and the topping looks like wet sand. Set aside. (See note)
Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Layer
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. (See note.)
In a large bowl, using the mixer on medium speed, beat the granulated sugar, mashed sweet potatoes, oil, and vanilla together until well combined. Add the eggs and beat until they are worked into the batter. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.
Add the dry ingredients and evaporated milk to the sweet potato (wet) mixture in the large bowl in multiple additions, alternating back and forth between the two, starting and ending with the flour mixture and beating on medium speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir in any unmixed bits of batter with a spatula.
Spread half the batter in the prepared baking pan with a spatula. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter, evenly distributing it. Add the rest of the batter on top of the cinnamon-sugar layer. Use a spatula to spread out the batter. Sprinkle the crumb topping on top of the batter, evenly distributing it.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 44 to 49 minutes. (See note)
For the streusel - instead of mixing with an electric mixer, you can combine with a fork and then mix with your hands.
The cinnamon-sugar layer in the middle is nice but in my view, the cake is sufficiently sweet and delicious without it.
Baking cake - If you have an instant read thermometer and prefer a more exact way to test for whether the cake is done, the internal temperature should be 210 degrees F.