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Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Rum-Plumped Raising and Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

From Regan Daley, In the Sweet Kitchen

Serves: 12 to 14


  • 3/4 c. golden raising
  • 1/3 c. dark rum
  • 2 large or 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes (to yield 2 c. mashed)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:
    • 1 c. granulated sugar
    • 1/4 c. cool water, plus up to 1/4 c. more for thinning caramel
    • 1 lb. cream cheese
    • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 5.5-6 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted
    • 1.5 tsp. vanilla
    • vegetable oil


  1. Soak raisins in rum for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes, cut in half, cut each half into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices in a pot of salted water, cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are very tender. Drain water, let sweet potatoes air-dry for a few minutes, then mash them. Measure out about 2 cups, set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
  4. In large bowl, beat eggs just to break them up, then add sugar and beat until thick and pale, about 2 minutes with a mixer (3 if whisking by hand). Add vegetable oil and vanilla, beat to blend. Drain raisins, set aside, but add 1/4 c. of the rum macerating liquid. Add mashed sweet potatoes, mix thoroughly.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with buttermilk in two additions (1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour). Fold in raisins. Divide batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Rotate each cake at least once during baking, and switch position of pans to ensure even baking.
  6. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in pans set on wire racks. Run a thin-bladed knife around the cakes and invert them onto the racks. Cook completely before frosting.
To make Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Prepare caramel: combine granulated sugar and 1/4 c. water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Have waiting on stove another 1/4 c. of cool water. (Also have oven mits or other protection, since adding cool water to boiling syrup can splatter dangerously.)
  2. Bring syrup to a rolling boil and cook until it turns a deep golden caramel color. (This should take about 5 minutes, but watch carefully, since it burns faster than you can stop it.) When syrup starts to turn from clear to golden, get ready: don oven mits, take measuring cup in hand, prepare to move saucepan away from heat. When syrup is "burnished-word-colored but NOT dark brown or black", remove saucepan from heat and gently pour in 1/4 c. cool water. (Beware: this will splatter, and is very dangerously hot.) As syrup cools, check consistency -- it should be about the consistency of corn syrup or molasses -- and add another tablespoon or two if needed.
  3. In mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy. Add sifted confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, blending thoroughly. When first 4 cups have been incorporated, beat in the vanilla.
  4. Lightly grease a 1/2-cup measure with vegetable oil and fill with the caramel. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the caramel, then increase speed to medium and beat until blended. Beat in the remaining 1.5-2 cups of sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the frosting is thick and smooth. Chill the frosting for 15-30 minutes, or until it holds its shape well, but is still spreadable.


  • I cut this recipe down to a two-layer cake, which is still a pretty ample cake.
  • I've never had the caramel syrup splatter dangerously. On the other hand, I've never had it come out as golden as expected.
  • It seems like the icing for Michael Lee West's Fall Spice Cake would also work here, and would be a lot easier to make.

Keywords: American, Dessert, Cake.