Enjoy this Spiced Sweet Potato Cake as a dessert for the holidays, or serve as a coffee cake for brunch with a quiche and candied bacon. However you serve it, it’s bound to be a hit with it’s tender and moist texture, buttery streusel topping, and tangy cream cheese glaze. 

Why This Recipe Works

One of our goals at Zestful Kitchen is to take the intimidation and guesswork out of whole-wheat baking. So when we set our sights on a sweet potato cake, we knew we wanted to make it whole-wheat. For the best sweet potato cake recipe, we took a few notes from our Whole-Wheat Muffins. Most notably, the flour hydration step. It’s simple—just allow the whole-wheat flour to hydrate before adding the leaveners and baking. 

Hydrating the flour prior to baking allows the flour to hold onto more moisture. Without the hydration step, the excess moisture will evaporate off during baking, resulting in a dry and crumbly cake. 

Another thing to keep in mind—you need to roast a sweet potato first. Depending on the size and shape of your potato, this can take more than an hour. But good news! While the sweet potato bakes, the cake batter is soaking—two steps done at the same time.

sweet potato puree, butter, oil, brown sugar, flour, eggs, spice, cream cheese and milk set out on a counter

Ingredient Notes 

Whole Wheat Flour 

To keep things easy, this recipe uses regular whole-wheat flour. If you have white whole-wheat flour, that should work as well. Just make sure you weigh the flour instead of relying solely on cup measurement. We do not recommend you use whole-wheat pastry flour.

Milk 

We tested and developed this recipe using whole milk, so that’s what we recommend you use. If you need to use a milk alternative, we recommend soy milk or almond milk.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

To streamline the ingredient list, we rely on a high-quality pumpkin pie spice blend. We prefer Simply Organic, but you can use whatever you like! If you prefer to make your own, here’s the blend we recommend mixing up: 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground allspice and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Sweet Potato Purée

The star of the show! The first step of this recipe is to roast the sweet potato until incredibly soft. A paring knife should easily slide right through it. Once the potato cools a bit, peel the skin off and purée the flesh until smooth. We do not recommend swapping out the sweet potato purée with canned pumpkin purée. Canned pumpkin has a lot more moisture and will throw off the ratios in this recipe.

Test Kitchen Tips

  • To save time, you can make the sweet potato puree up to 3 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also soak the batter up to 8 hours in advance.
  • If you make this ahead of time, we recommend waiting to add the drizzle until right before serving. Store the cake, without the glaze, at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the cake in a 300-degree oven just until warmed through. 
  • We’ve got an in-depth guide on how to make sweet potato puree. Check it out for tips, tricks and uses for any leftover puree. 
  • To make lifting the cake out of the pan easier, we recommend laying a long thin strip of parchment paper underneath the parchment paper round in the cake pan. This way, when you’re ready to life the cake out of the pan, you can use the strip of paper as handles. 
round cake with a streusel topping and cream cheese glaze set on a white plate

Serving 

This cake is a delicious fall and winter dessert! Serve it at Thanksgiving or Christmas with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. 

And because it’s very snack-cakey and similar to a pound cake, it’s also right at home on a brunch buffet with Spicy Candied Bacon, a delicious Crustless Quiche (or Broccoli Cheddar Quiche), and a simple yet stunning Butter Lettuce Salad

Sweet Potato Recipes To Try

round cake with a streusel topping and cream cheese glaze set on a white plate

FAQs

Can I make this gluten-free?

We haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, but go ahead and try it with your favorite gluten-free flour blend! We like Bob’s Red Mill’s. Through our testing of these Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins, we find soaking gluten-free batter is also beneficial for the texture.

Can I make this with all-purpose flour?

We also have not tested this cake with all-purpose flour. Because we haven’t tested it, we don’t recommend making the swap. If you must, swap the flour out by weight, not cup measurement.

How should I store the cake?

If you make this ahead of time, we recommend waiting to add the drizzle until right before serving. Store the cake, without the glaze, at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the cake in a 300-degree oven just until warmed through. 
To store any leftover cake with the glaze on it, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

Can I use a different oil than olive oil?

Absolutely, use any neutral oil such as vegetable oil.

What other flavors can I add to the cake?

Try adding a splash of pure vanilla extract to the batter. You can also add chopped pecans to the streusel topping. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, add any of your favorite fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and cloves.

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Streusel

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 40 mins
Cooling time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Yield 1 (9-inch) cake (8 servings)
Category Baking, Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Lauren Grant

Description

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake that can be served as a fall dessert or festive brunch coffee cake. Topped with a streusel and cream cheese glaze.

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Purée

  • 1 large sweet potato, at least 1 pound

Cake

  • ¾ cup (157g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (100g)
  • ½ cup (107g) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (41g) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups (240g) whole-wheat flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) morton kosher salt

Streusel

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • cup (62g) packed light brown sugar
  • cup (40g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze

  • ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk + more as needed

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 425ºF (218C). Poke sweet potato all over with fork. Roast until soft, 45–80 minutes (depending on size). Remove and let cool. Reduce oven to 350ºF (176ºC).

Cake

  • Meanwhile, whisk together ¾ cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, ½ cup oil, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice until smooth.
    foamy brown batter in a large glass bowl with a metal whisk set in it
  • Stir in 1 ¼ cups (207g) flour until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate while sweet potato cooks.
    caramel-colored batter in a large glass bowl
  • Spray bottom and sides of a 9-inch round (or 8-inch square) baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut a round of parchment paper to size of pan and lay flat in bottom of pan.

Streusel

  • Mix butter, ⅓ cup sugar, ⅓ cup flour, 1 ¼ teaspoons spice, and ¼ teaspoon salt until crumble and chunky.
    streusel in a shallow white bowl

Purée

  • Peel cooked sweet potato, add flesh to a mini food processor and process until smooth. (You can also mash by hand using a potato masher. Make sure you mash it until completely smooth.)
    Pureed sweet potato mixture in a mini food processor set on a white marble table
  • Add 1 cup sweet potato puree (222g), remaining ¼ cup flour (31g), 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon kosher salt to batter; mix to combine.
    orange-hued cake batter in a glass bowl with a wooden-handled spatula
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth top and sprinkle streusel evenly over top.
    coffee cake with streusel on top in a parchment-lined round cake pan
  • Bake cake until puffed and golden, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cook cake in pan, on wire rack, for 15 minutes. Carefully remove cake and allow to cool completely on wire rack.
    baked coffee cake on a black wire rack

Glaze

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup cream cheese, 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth. Add additional milk, by teaspoon, until glaze is drizzle yet forms a ribbon in bowl.
  • Drizzle glaze over cake and enjoy.
    coffee cake on a black wire rack with a cream cheese drizzle on top

Notes

To make lifting the cake out of the pan easier, we recommend laying a long thin strip of parchment paper underneath the parchment paper round in the cake pan. This way, when you’re ready to life the cake out of the pan, you can use the strip of paper as handles. 
Storage: If you make this ahead of time, we recommend waiting to add the drizzle until right before serving. Store the cake at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Right before serving, reheat the cake in a low oven (300-degrees) until warmed through. Drizzle the cream cheese glaze over top and serve. 
Wrap leftover cake in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 450kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 7.5gFat: 22.5gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 277mgFiber: 5gSugar: 29g
Keywords Sweet potato cake
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
round cake with a streusel topping and cream cheese glaze set on a white plate

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

    1. We haven’t tested this with pumpkin, but I would assume pumpkin will have too much moisture and could potentially impact the texture of the cake. If you want to try it with pumpkin, I would recommend squeezing out as much moisture as you can (add the pumpkin to a thin clean kitchen towel or paper towel and squeeze to release water). Once it’s been squeezed to release excess water, I would then weigh out the pumpkin puree (222g) or 1 cup. I hope this helps!

    2. Hi Allison! I just tested this recipe with canned pumpkin today and good news, it works! I recommend grabbing two 15-ounce cans of pumpkin puree (or one large can) just to make sure you have enough. Add the puree to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to release excess liquid—you should get about 3/4 cup released liquid per one 15-ounce can puree. Then use it in the recipe as directed! I found the pumpkin made for a more dense cake, but it’s still delicious and moist.

      Happy Thanksgiving!