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16 October 2012

A weekend of Southern cookin'

This past weekend, JD and I began to sort through some of his grandmother's recipe books and boxes. Being new to Southern cooking, I wasn't prepared for what I found. Tons of recipes with Crisco and butter and oil and cheese. Not that this is inherently bad, but it is certainly different from Northern cooking (if there is such a thing. Northern cuisine is far more ethnic and regional than Southern food). JD selected a few recipes to make for dinner, and, aside from his birthday dinner, I had my first typically Southern meal. Of course the meal involved some VERY cheesy macaroni and cheese and some very smothery smothered chicken. I lightened the meal as much as possible with some steamed green beans. 

I, on the other hand, am much better at baking desserts, Southern or not. I stumbled upon a recipe for Sweet Potato Cake, and I definitely had to try it. Given the recent change in weather, the autumn happening outside made this cake sound especially tasty. 

Ingredients needed:
1.5 C cooking oil (I used peanut because I love peanut oil)
2 C. sugar
4 eggs, separated
4 T. hot water
2.5 C. sifted cake flower
3 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1.5 C. grated raw sweet potatoes (about 1 medium sweet potato)
1 C. chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but I prefer pecans. I couldn't find any unsalted.)
1 t. vanilla

What to do:
Combine the oil and sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg yolks and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add water and dry ingredients alternately to batter. Stir in potatoes, nuts and vanilla. Beat well. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and then fold into batter mixture. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9" layer pans. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until done by cake test. 

The cake tastes fantastic and makes the house smell amazing while it cooks. I think I may try it with some cream cheese frosting when I make it again. 

The recipe came with a pretty tasty frosting recipe, but I couldn't get it to turn out right. No matter what I did, the frosting was too runny to hold to the sides of the cake. It tasted awesome, but I've go to to figure out  how to make it work. I'll post it in case you can figure it out.

Frosting ingredients:
1 12oz. can evaporated milk
1 C. sugar
1 stick butter (the original recipe called for margarine, but all I have is butter. That could be my mistake in the recipe)
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla
1.5 C. shredded coconut

Frosting to do:
Combine milk, sugar, margarine, egg yolks, and vanilla in saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add coconut. Beat until cool and of spreading consistency. 

The frosting had a wonderful caramely flavor that wasn't too sweet and wasn't too bland. It complimented the cake perfectly. But I just couldn't get it to set! If you have better luck, let me know.

Update: We've discovered that this cake is even better a day or two or three after making it. It soaks the moisture in from the frosting and becomes incredibly moist. Very Yummy!
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