cinnamon girl

Even though I’m usually about as rock’n’roll as Rod and/or Todd Flanders today I make an exception: I wrote this operating on about three hours’ sleep, having danced merrily till 5am on Saturday night at San Francisco Bath House to the enchanting stylings of the UK’s DJ Skitz and Deadly Hunta (who charmingly professed a liking for my peanut butter cookies and therefore I’ll not hear a word against him.) However other members of our entourage returned home around 10.30 on Sunday morning which gave me some perspective. Anyway, you have been warned: coherency at this stage is likely to be a joke, at best.

It was also at 10.30 yesterday morn when I quietly photographed this Kumara (sweet potato) Spice Cake, making the most of the crisp, chilly Sunday light. I pilfered the recipe from the lovely lovely Hayley’s blog, knowing as soon as I read her post that I’d have to recreate it as soon as possible, because it sounded so fantastic.

I adapted the recipe slightly. I added some cinnamon. I didn’t have any white chocolate in the house so dark chocolate was drizzled over instead. Now, I love me some white chocolate – I’d spread it daily on hot buttered toast. But I do think that the dark chocolate I substituted contrasted so awesomely with the sweet earthiness of the cake and its spices that it would be hard to use anything else. It’s a complete breeze to make and happily requires a bundt cake tin, thus justifying me actually owning one.

Kumara Spice Cake.

The title is a bit dubious, so if you know you have fussy people to feed I’d just refer to it as spice cake or something. The rest of the world knows the secret ingredient as Sweet Potato but here in New Zealand we call it by its Maori name, kumara. Your word is more universally explanatory but I like ours better.


1 large Kumara/Sweet Potato, peeled and chopped
125g soft butter
75ml Maple syrup (I used mostly golden syrup and a little maple flavoured syrup because I am a bad person and real maple syrup is ridiculously expensive. Unfortunately maple flavoured syrup doesn’t give a lot of flavour so it was a slightly pointless excercise.)
75ml Golden Syrup
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarb soda

White chocolate icing

2 T cream
100g white chocolate (or dark!)

Cook sweet potato in a saucepan of lightly salted water for 15-20 min until tender and drain well, running cold water over the colander to cool it down faster. You should be able to mash it with a spoon but feel free to puree it in a blender, either way it needs to be smooth with no lumps.

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease and flour a 6 cup bundt cake tin.

In a bowl, beat the butter, maple syrup, golden syrup, and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Fold in sweet potato puree. Sift flour, ginger, bicarb soda into the bowl and fold in gently till combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top. Bake for 45 min until cake pulls away from sides and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and dry. Cool in the pan for 10 min or so.

This is just our kitchen bench. It’s wide enough that it creates a kind of limitless visual space on film, ideal for when I want to attempt fancy-looking photos. I am still in wonder at how decent our new kitchen is.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and add the cream then drizzle over the cooled cake. Watch out for the chocolate running down the wavy dents in the cake – fun! Using a silicon spatula, scrape out the bowl with the icing in it and eat the rest once you’re done. Magical stuff.

Not a bad job considering I was drizzling chocolate, taking photos and trying to remain standing on two feet this whole time.

There is something strangely alluring – to me at least – about cakes which have vegetables in them. It’s fun to tell people after they’ve had a bite, and to think about cake offering nutrients (the actual kind that a food nutritionist would recognise. Not emotional nutrients.) It also opens a new world of texture and flavour possibilities. This cake is amazingly good so don’t be scared of the vege content. The kumara keeps it amazingly moist, offering a subtle but particular flavour, and an absorbent, softly sweet carrier for the more strident ginger and cinnamon.

The title of this post is brought to you by everyone’s favourite model train enthusiast: Neil Young and his song Cinnamon Girl off the crunchier-than-cornflakes album Rust Never Sleeps._____________________________________________________

On Shuffle Whilst I Type:

A dirty great ton of RENT.

I’ve been watching the RENT final performance DVD. It’s beautiful and beautifully done. It should be required viewing for everyone in the world. In the words of Lars Olfen, it’s a mitzvah. I’m so glad someone decided to make this happen. I say this now because I’m on a dirty great RENT high, give me a few days to calm down and get cynical.

If you are in Auckland and get the chance to go to the I Love The Islands benefit tonight, do it! There’s a lot of horror in the world but the earthquakes that deeply damaged Samoa and American Samoa recently have stuck with me, I guess because New Zealand has not so much close ties with Samoa but a total overlap, a weaving of the fibres of our fabric that make up some metaphor of what we are or…something. Basically, it’s completely terrible what’s happened, the line up for I Love The Islands is amazing and it’s for a really good cause. Do it if you can.

9 thoughts on “cinnamon girl

  1. Kay says:

    Love the “product placement” of the Whittaker's chocolate wrapper. Do you know that New World on Willis Street is still the only place that I've ever been able to locate Gourmet Whittaker's Peanut Slab ice-cream? I'm starting to think I imagined it and need some verification….

    Saw a programme on the Arts Channel (Sky) last night on Broadway Musicals including Rent…At last I got to see what it was about.

    At last something to do with kumara apart from roast them or make a salad from them. I wonder if it makes a difference whether you use the pumpkin-coloured ones or the purply ones?


  2. HayleyB says:

    Woo! The cake! It really is a great cake isn't it!

    Remarkably coherent considering your lack of sleep. Did you forget to mention the cinnamon in the instructions, or was that my imagination? I can guess where you added it but thought I'd let you know.

    Oddly enough, I hadn't thought about adding cinnamon, but am now imagining how the cake would taste with this addition. Perhaps I'll add it next time! And is there any difference in flavour between the orange Kumara and the purple one? The purple one may make it rather interesting…

    I am starting to wonder what other vegetables I can put into baked goods other than courgettes/zucchini, potato, beetroot, and carrot. Any ideas?

    Thanks for the mention :). You are all famous, so perhaps I will now be famous by association. Maybe… maybe not. My blog is nowhere near as cool as yours, and I am not gifted with words the way that you are. But oh well, I am just happy to read your blog. 🙂


  3. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Mum: Sneaky product placement, huh? I wanted the photo to look a bit more real…and the screwed up paper was just sitting there anyway 🙂 I guess the colour would be lighter with the purple kumara as their interior is quite pale. Good question!

    Foodycat: Rock n roll indeed!

    HayleyB: Possibly did forget that cinnamon, will go back and check…Also your blog is an AWESOME source of awesomeness, for example those cheesecake cookies! Where would I be without them!

    Sadako: Good grief yes.


  4. Ino says:

    I think I will put this as next in my more-things-to-bake list! I blame the bad weather, all I want to do is bake and watch films on the sofa, under a blanket and eating what I've just baked. But this one, I think I can smell it from your post!

    p.s. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!


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