The Tar Heel Kitchen: Sweet Potato Surprise Cake

by | Feb 5, 2015

Tar-Heel-Kitchen-large Since 1926, the Agricultural Review has been a free newspaper published by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For many years, The Tar Heel Kitchen was a featured column written by the department’s marketing home economist.

These recipes tended to be seasonal with just a handful of ingredients. We thought these recipes needed to be shared in a new format. The Tar Heel Kitchen post will unearth a few of these timeless recipes each month . This month, we are taking it back 38 years to the May 15, 1976, issue and delicious sweet potato recipes.

February is National Sweet Potato month and North Carolina has a lot of reasons to celebrate as the national top producer of this sweet spud. In 2014, N.C. farmers harvested almost 1.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, accounting for nearly half the country’s crop.

Former Marketing Home Economist York Kiker describes sweet potatoes in her column. “Bright golden North Carolina yams add a natural bright note to meals and they are as tasty as they appear. Fortunately, yams are available year round in some form. There is still an ample supply of fresh North Carolina yams available and should be enjoyed at any season of the year.” According to the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission, yams are the same thing as sweet potatoes.

These recipes were provided by C.C. Barefoot of Benson, whom Kiker describes as the “wife of the immediate past president of the National Sweet Potato council…a visit to her home naturally includes being served sweet potatoes.”

Candied Sweet Potatoes (YAMS)

  • 4 medium-sized North Carolina sweet potatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook unpeeled potatoes in salted boiling water until almost tender. Peel and cut in thick slices. Place in a greased baking dish. Pour syrup over potatoes and dot butter over tops of slices. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turn top layer of potatoes once to prevent drying out. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

Sweet Potato Surprise Cake

  • 1 ½ cups cooking oil
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups grated North Carolina sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine cooking oil, sugar, and beat well until smooth, add egg yolks and beat well. Add hot water, then dry ingredients which have been sifted together. Stir in sweet potatoes, nuts and vanilla, beat well. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. Bake in 3 greased 8-inch cake pans at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and frost. (Note: Bake cake in sheet cake pan)

Sweet Potato Cake Frosting

  • 1 can (14 ½ ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) margarine
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 one-third cups flaked coconut

Combine milk, sugar, margarine, egg yolks and vanilla in top of double boiler. Cook 12 minutes until thick, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, remove from heat and add coconut. Beat until cool and frost cake.