I can’t take credit for this cake recipe, but I had a lot of fun decorating it with an absurd number of edible flowers. I asked my brother to pick up some edible flowers (his idea of “some” and my idea of “some” are disparate) so I ended up with five packages of flowers!
My original idea was to artfully place a few edible flowers on top of the cake. This morphed into covering the whole cake with the flowers, lest they go to waste. Taste-wise, the flowers don’t add much, but the cake is a stunner.
If you do decide to decorate with flowers, have fun with it! I covered all of the exposed frosting so the cake looks like a rainbow of colors. You can also skip the flowers, and make it a naked cake.
A warning – this is not a light and fluffy cake. It is dense and moist almost like pumpkin bread.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t rise much after baking. On the positive side, because it is so dense, it doesn’t dome at the top, so you don’t have to level the cakes after baking. I am terrible at leveling, so this is a win in my book!
I made a few changes to the original Bon Appetit recipe below, which are integrated below. I use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil in the cake batter because that’s what I had. One teaspoon of ground ginger went into the cake batter for a spicy element. Orange zest is added to the frosting for citrusy brightness. Less powdered sugar is used, because 6 cups of powdered sugar is plenty sweet!
The recipe makes a ridiculous amount of frosting. I used a very heavy hand on the cake and there is still a Tupperware full of frosting left in my aunt’s refrigerator. I bet it would go great with french toast, or save it for another cake.
FOR THE CAKE
1½ lb. sweet potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed
Nonstick vegetable oil spray (for pans)
3¼ cups (374 g) cake flour, plus more for pans
2 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1½ cups (packed; 300 g) light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
7 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature
FOR THE FROSTING
2 16-oz. packages full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted or whisked to remove lumps
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more to taste
Zest of 1 orange
LET’S BAKE! Cook sweet potatoes in a medium pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally until a tester inserted into centers meets no resistance, 40–45 minutes. Drain and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove skins, transfer flesh to a medium bowl, and mash with a potato masher or fork. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray three 9″-diameter cake pans with nonstick spray, then line bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Spray parchment and dust pans with flour, tapping out excess.
Sift baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and 3¼ cups (374 g) cake flour into a large bowl (or just whisk to remove lumps). Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and no lumps remain, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs to sweet potato purée and mix well. Scrape into sugar mixture and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and with motor running, gradually add dry ingredients; mix just until incorporated. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until cakes slightly rise, tops are set, and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 25–30 minutes.
Transfer pans to a wire rack, and let the cakes cool in pans for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of cakes and turn out onto racks. Remove parchment and let cool completely (rounded side down). Tightly wrap cakes individually in plastic and freeze until thoroughly chilled (this will make cakes easier to frost), about 2 hours.
MAKE THE FROSTING: Beat cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on low speed for 30 seconds (place a kitchen towel over the bowl to capture any puffs of sugar). Increase speed to high and beat frosting 2 minutes. It should be thick and creamy. Add the orange zest and beat just to combine.
LET’S ASSEMBLE! Place a cake, right side up, on a large plate or cake stand. Spread one-third of frosting on top. Set another cake on top and frost with half of the remaining frosting. Repeat the process with the remaining cake and frosting. For the cleanest slices, chill 3 hours before slicing.