Mini Sweet Potato Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

From 6 Bittersweets
Cake adapted from VegNews; frosting method adapted from Sweet Indulgences Cakes
Makes one 6-inch 2-layer cake

XIAOLU'S NOTES: I labeled this post "vegan" due to the cake recipe being egg and dairy-free. The cream cheese frosting clearly does have dairy, but you can probably use vegan versions to make the entire dessert vegan. To make an 8 or 9-inch 2-layer cake, simply double this recipe, divide batter evenly between two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans, and bake slightly longer (about 30 to 35 minutes). I downloaded this free topper from Catch My Party.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour [all purpose is also fine]
3/4 cup MINUS 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp sweet potato purée (I used organic canned 100% sweet potato purée)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe below)
3 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
2 Tbsp pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 6-inch pans with butter, then line with parchment rounds cut to fit the pans. Sift together pastry flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk sweet potato purée, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla together until evenly combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk just until you have a smooth batter.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer from cake pans to wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Lightly brush cooled cake layers to remove loose crumbs. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of cake layers if they domed during baking. To assemble cake, place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting evenly over first layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut flakes and chopped pecans. Place remaining cake layer on top. Frost the sides and top of the layer cake with frosting, as desired.

To frost your cake to look as mine does
, you'll want to start off by using a large spatula (preferable an offset one) to frosting the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (this is the crumb coat to prevent crumbs from coming up while you apply the outer layer and also to give the outer decorations a uniform surface to adhere to). The frosting on top of the cake should be thick enough to prevent any cake color from showing through; this is important since we'll be adding more frosting to the sides only and not to the top. Now chill the cake in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes. Cover and keep the frosting moderately cool as well during this time.

Fit a piping bag with a medium round tip (I used Wilton #12) and pipe a vertical row of dots on your cake. Take the edge of a small spatula (you need one about the same width or slightly more narrow than the dots you're piping) and gently drag the frosting horizontally for each dot, scraping the frosting off the spatula after each drag. Repeat this process, slightly overlapping each new column over the tails of the previous column. The last column will look a different from the others, but simply position your final cake so that side faces the back and it shouldn't be a problem :). For a tutorial with photos of the decorating process, click here.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, unsifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese, cool room temperature and cut into 6 to 8 chunks

Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly blended and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, a chunk at a time, beating after each addition (just enough to work it in until it’s nearly smooth). Taste the frosting, adding and beating in more sugar if needed. Finally, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 1 minute until smooth. Turn speed down to low and mix for several more minutes. Since this method beats a lot of air into the frosting, you will need to stir the finished frosting to break the air bubbles.