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Sweet Potato Tea Cake

Sweet Potato Tea Cake

This recipe is one of the many standouts from Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s Tartine: A Classic Revisited. Be sure to let the cake fully cool so you get a beautiful, clean slice.


  • Unsalted butter (for pan)
  • 1⅓ cups plus 1 Tbsp. (185 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (255 g) boiled and puréed sweet potatoes (from about 2 medium potatoes)
  • ¾ cup (180ml) neutral oil
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar, divided

Recipe Preparation

  • Place rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325°. Lightly butter sides and bottom of a 9x5" loaf pan. Line pan lengthwise with parchment paper, leaving about a 2" overhang.

  • Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and cloves in a medium bowl to combine.

  • Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat sweet potato purée, oil, salt, and 1⅓ cups (266 g) sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition before adding the next. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Add dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl, then reduce speed to medium and continue to beat until smooth, 5–10 seconds (batter should be the consistency of a thick purée). Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth surface with an offset spatula.

  • Pour water to a depth of about 2" into a medium saucepan, heat over medium, and bring water to a simmer. Whisk egg whites and remaining ⅔ cup (134 g) sugar in a medium bowl (or use the stand mixer bowl) set over simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Continue to whisk until whites are hot to the touch (an instant-read thermometer should register 120°), about 5 minutes.

  • Carefully remove bowl from pan and immediately beat on high speed (or return bowl to stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment) until mixture is very thick and holds stiff peaks when you lift out the beaters, 5–7 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

  • Spoon meringue over batter. Drag a knife through meringue and batter to create a marbled pattern. Don’t thin out the meringue too much, though; it bakes best when left in thicker patches.

  • Bake cake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 90–100 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Run a sharp knife around short sides of pan, lift out cake using parchment overhang, and let cool completely. Serve cake at room temperature.

  • Do Ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Tightly wrap and store at room temperature, or chill up to 1 week.

Recipe by Excerpted from Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites © 2019 by Elizabeth Prueitt. Reproduced by permission of Chronicle Books.Reviews SectionHad a fun experience with this cake: since I substituted the sweet potato with purple yam, the batter turned a funky grey color after adding the eggs, so I added red and blue gel coloring to make purple again. But after baking, the inside of the loaf turned out to be a *gnarly* dark green... No idea what I did wrong, but it was moist & delicious and just the right amount of sweetness with 100g of sugar in the batter. So while it didn't end up on my Instagram, I'm not complaining ;)AnonymousChandler, AZ06/04/20Pretty tasty. I modified the recipe by not adding nutmeg or clove (didn't have any on hand). Also reduced the amount of sugar in the cake itself (but still kept the same measurements for the meringue). My cake was done around 80 mins into baking and my meringue was huge! The cake itself dense but really moist. The meringue is a nice addition - marshmellow-y and sweet. If I think if I were to include the nutmeg and clove, it would bring a really nice warmth to it.AnonymousSan Diego, CA05/19/20I won’t rate the recipe because I didn’t use the nutmeg or cloves and used just a cup of sugar, per reviewer recommendations. But this cake was SO good. The texture was amazingly moist, tender, dense-ish. Not too oily, not too sweet, just right. The merengue looks really beautiful on top. I’d recommend piling on all the merengue, even though it may seem like too much. The topping shrinks a lot in the oven. Overall, very delicious.AnonymousPhiladelphia05/09/20This was delicious! I used butternut squash instead of sweet potato, reduced sugar and oil to 1/2 c and 1/3 c, added 1/3 c applesauce. I used half oat flour and half gluten free ap. I skipped the meringue but swirled in some maple tahini. Beautiful texture, great spice profile, and a nice tall loaf.cherylkozoriz3154Toronto05/08/20Amazing! That meringue top is delicious and makes this really special. I did use less sugar in the sweet potato batter, but kept the meringue proportions the same, as I didn't want to mess with the chemistry there. I will say though that I had plenty of meringue to spare after completely filling the rest of my loaf pan with it, so I ate some straight from the bowl like it was marshmallow fluff. Next time I make this, I think I'll scoop the excess into a ziplock bag and pipe little meringue cookies out of it!AnonymousBrooklyn, NY05/01/20Great recipe. Used canned sweet potato, followed recipe exactly. The merengue on top really adds to the flavor and appearance. Will make again perhaps using canned pumpkin.I was very please with this cake however, I was not able to egg whites plus the sugar to fluff up at all. The recipe stated that I was to add the sugar to the egg whites and beat til fluffy peaks appear? If so, it never happen with 2 attempts. What am I missing: Please let me know.RickTwo important caveats - I didn't have sweet potatoes or sugar, so sub'ed pumpkin puree and coconut sugar. I reduced the sugar to 1c., no problem. Maybe next time I'll make this spicier and check on it sooner. The meringue started burning after 60 mins, but it could be that my oven just runs hot.EdemikatAsheville, NC04/19/20My children (13 and 14) and I baked this today and we would recommend this recipe with some changes. First of all, as my son is celiac, we used gluten-free flour (the America's Test Kitchen blend that we make) and added a teaspoon of guar gum. We cut out the spices, as we did not want that flavour profile, cut the sugar by 50% as we do with most recipes, and the taste was good, but we found this cake to be too greasy, as the previous reviewer states. The oil we chose was refined avocado oil, which we often bake with. Next time, I will cut the oil by a quarter cup. If I see it is too dry, I could add a quarter cup of apple sauce or milk. We used fresh sweet potatoes and steamed them and used coconut sugar. I see a lot of reviewers found this too sweet and I can only imagine how sweet this would be if one does not cut the sugar down. Also, I found this too salty. I am not sure if my kids goofed, but they insisted that they only put in a teaspoon of salt, and if that was correct, then that was definitely too much. A half tsp would be plenty. Our meringue came out very puffy and crisp. I guess I didn't stir it in to the batter enough. When I saw the cake was no where near done and the meringue looked a good colour, I was able to just take it off the cake and reserve it on a plate on the counter while the cake baked 20 minutes more than stated, then put it back on the cake for the last 10 minutes of baking. We'll definitely make this again with these changes. This cake certainly is impressive to look at with the meringue topping!nmmartinean American in Quebec City04/17/20I am a baking scientist and I was so excited to try this recipe. Mine was a complete fail. I weighed each ingredient that specified a weight, and I baked it 100 minutes testing it with a knife. My cake completely collapsed within a few minutes of removing from the maybe it needed more bake. But I also think the taste and mouthfeel are oily. Any thoughts on what I screwed up? All of reviews are so positive. I’m bummed.So good! It reminds me of pumpkin bread, only better. I didn't end up making the meringue top, but it still turned out delicious!Delicious! I used 3/4 cup sugar and 8” square pan per reviewer suggestions. Next time I would swirl deeper to get meringue in and have less poof. Very unique. Total keeper!!AnonymousCalifornia01/22/20Delicious—make it! I used 3/4 cup sugar in the batter and an 8” square pan per other reviewer suggestions. Swirl deeply to get meringue deeper (and moister cake) and you should end up with less poof. Total keeper!Aswini PadmanabhanCalifornia 01/22/20Smells delicious.Came out of the oven hilariously enormous, like another reviewer said. Took 110-115 minutes to cook, and at the end Ioosely covered it since the meringue was starting to go; ended up with a nice toasted marshmallow flavor.Perhaps I didn’t understand the swirling comment—I only very lightly swirled it, and so my cake (filling 3/4 of the pan) and meringue (filling the remaining 1/4+++) was VERY FULL, even before cooking. I would suggest swirling more.A lot of reviewers are commenting on how sweet it was; that wasn’t a problem for me, and I think that might be because I baked my own sweet potatoes while cooking another recipe. If reviewers are using canned sweet potatoes, they might be getting ones in syrup. If you’re doing that, use less sugar.saar.timothyj2651WA01/21/20It was hard not to eat the whole thing! I forgot to measure the sweet potato and put the whole things I boiled into the batter. It ended up being way to much and spilled all over the sides. Luckily I had a baking tray underneath. I would for sure make this again!To be honest I haven't made this tea cake yet though I do intend to. I prefer to always prepare a new recipe as written the 1st time out and that means NO changes. I want to read reviews on that basis. If a recipe simply makes no reasonable sense to you, don't go to the effort. Otherwise give it a shot as written then critique it based on that, not on what you believe to be wrong with it as written. If you have prepared a recipe, please taste it for us before you comment and also consider that perhaps the fault is your own if you adapted the recipe and it didn't turn out as expected. It just seems to me that some folks have forgotten what reviews are for. This tea cake recipe sounds wonderful and I can hardly wait to try it, as written. Based on the fact that I haven't made this yet I am only giving it 4 stars; with sweet potatoes and meringue topping it has got to be worthy of that.AnonymousLouisiana01/10/20I made this cake the same day I saw the recipe since I had a yam laying around. I cut the sugar back to 3/4 cup in the batter and 1/2 cup in the meringue, and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose flour. The spice profile is magnificent! It was a little tricky to mix in the meringue into the batter once in the loaf pan and I clearly wasn't deliberate enough in consolidating the two and ended up with a very cooked puffed meringue topping. Next time I make this I will use a square or rectangular baking pan which should allow for easier mixing of the batter and meringue and should cut back on the 105 minute cook time! After all, none of my previous tea cakes were baked in a loaf pan. Very moist and very tasty. Family loved it.AnonymousSalt Lake City Utah01/07/20It's still in the oven so I don't know if I'll like it. I was so surprised at how much meringue there is. The instructions for dragging a knife through the cake and meringue weren't specific enough for me. Was I supposed to go deep into the batter to get meringue into the cake? The loaf pan was so full (and I cut back on sugar!) that it really didn't work.Better than pumpkin bread! Scale down the sugar a bit if you plan on making this, the sweet potatoes are already sweet.AnonymousToronto, ON01/07/20Question before I start: can I sub in almond flour, or second choice, GF all-purpose?I can tell just by the amount, that is way too much sugar.Terrace, BC Canada01/06/20Just finished making this and I can tell it'll be another staple recipe! It took quite a while to bake as my loaf pan was quite full, but it wasn't dry at all and the inside was perfectly baked. Like the other reviewer, I might reduce the sugar in the cake a bit since the marshmallow/meringue top adds sweetness. Would highly recommend giving it a try!Cut half the sugar and still tastes too sweet. Sweet potatoes are already sweet folks that's why we call them sweet potatoesThis was really good! I followed exactly (added a little more clove as is my taste) but otherwise this was moist and delicious and looks very unique.AnonymousKansas City 12/20/19

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