Satsumaimo Layer Cake

I don’t recall hearing the sing-song jangle of ice cream trucks during my time living in Japan, but I do remember a yakiimo cart that made its rounds near Yoshikawa station.  Yakiimo are warm,  whole roasted satsumaimo, Japan’s sweet potato with red skin and a white interior.  The cart owner would always be bellowing a steady song dedicated to the celebrated yakiimo.

To me, roasted satsumaimo are mouthwateringly good without any alteration; butter and sugar aren’t necessary.  When you do add those two ingredients into the equation, you’ll float away on a rich flavor cloud!

One popular treat in Japan are satsumaimo cakes, reformed into a small potato shape after mixing mashed satsumaimo with sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and a few other key ingredients.  There are even some regional Kitkats that are flavored after Japan’s ubiquitous sweet potato varieties.

This luxuriant layer cake is dedicated to the lovely, sweet tuber that has grown close to my heart.  Three layers of satsumaimo cake are topped with daigaku imo, a caramelized, candied version of the wonderful root.  The cake is slathered with kuromitsu (black sugar) cream cheese icing, and drizzled with kuromitsu syrup.

Taking a bite out of this cake reminds me of helping one of my host grandmothers tend to her satsumaimo crop in the garden.  There are so many moments in Japan that I hope to always carry with me, and rooting around in the dirt with someone I couldn’t communicate with well over the common goal of nurturing latent sweetness is definitely one that takes the cake.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Satsumaimo Layer Cake

For the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups mashed cooked satsumaimo sweet potatoes, cooled (about 4-5 sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 6-inch round cake pans with canola oil. Line bottoms with baking parchment and spray the top of those too.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium-high for 5 minutes until creamy.  Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl, so all is well incorporated.  Add in eggs one at a time.  Beat on medium-high for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and sweet potatoes and beat until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed (scraping down the bowl is important stuff, y’all).
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Beat on low speed until just incorporated.
  5. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake at 350-degrees F for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing the cake and placing on a cooling rack.  Torte each cake in half when the cakes are completely cool.

For the Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons kuromitsu syrup 
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese

Instructions:

  1. Beat butter with the cream cheese on high, until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar
  3. Add the kuromitsu, salt, an cinnamon.  Beat until well incorporated

For the Daigaku Imo

Ingredients:

  • 2 satsumaimo, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or another neutral-flavored oil)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar

Directions:

  1. Wash the skin of the potato carefully.  You will not peel it.
  2. Cut the potato diagonally in the rangiri style – by rotating the potato a quarter between cuts.  Soak the pieces in water for 15 minutes to remove starch.  Change the water half way through.
  3. Wrap the lid of your frying pan with a kitchen towel and tie on the top near the handle.  By doing this, you prevent condensation from the lid dripping down onto the potatoes.
  4. Before turning your burner on, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and oil in your frying pan.  Stir well.
  5. Dry the potatoes with a towel before placing in your pan.
  6. Cover with your prepared lid and turn the stove on to medium heat.  Every two minutes, open the lid and flip the potatoes so that all sides are cooked.
  7. Cook in this style for approximately 10 minutes.
  8. Take off the heat and sprinkle with black sesame seeds, to taste.

Lucky Charms Irish Cream Cake

Is there anything in this world better than an alcoholic cake?  I’m thinking not.  In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, I whipped up this Irish cream cake.  It’s three layers of buttery goodness, topped with frosting that is laden with Bailey’s Irish cream and Lucky Charms marshmallows.  Yes, you might get drunk if you eat too much of it.  You’ve been warned!

As a kid, I only ate the cereal bits out of Lucky Charms and rejected the marshmallows.  I think that I liked looking at them more than eating them… I was such a strange kid!  My stance on Lucky Charms (and sugar in general) has shifted quite a bit since then.  I hope that your St. Patrick’s Day is full of good luck and lots of colorful cake!  Scroll down for the recipe.

 

For the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 3/4 Cups Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F Prepare 5 inch cake pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a small liquid measuring cup mix Irish Cream and milk and set aside.
  3. In  a large bowl, using a hand held electric mixer, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add half the flour mixture then half the milk mixture to the butter mixture.  Repeat with remaining flour then milk and mix until incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan then smooth batter evenly. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 oz (half of 8-oz package) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. In large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Reduce speed to low. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until blended.
  3. Add 1/4 cup liqueur and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until frosting is smooth and spreadable.

Assembly:  Decorate with a variety of Lucky Charms cereal marshmallows.  For extra crunch, add layers of cereal between each layer of cake while building.  Another option is to make the cereal into a Rice Krispie-style treat like I did with my Apple Jacks Cake, and use two layers of that for extra texture.