High Country Baking: These sweet potato mini Bundts ring in the flavors of fall
High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
The tastes of the harvest resound in these appealing mini-Bundt cakes. Sweet potato, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and rum harmonize beautifully, creating a moist texture and warm flavors with a distinctly autumnal accent. They’re a pleasing finale to any rich meal and a nontraditional but still seasonal addition to a Thanksgiving feast.
You can use canned sweet potato puree in this recipe, or you can make your own. To do so, pierce each washed and dried potato (you need about a pound) with the tines of a fork to allow steam to escape and roast them in a 400-degree oven until tender. Cool, peel, cut them into pieces and whirl them in a food processor until no lumps remain.
The cakes are best served warm, a day or two after they’re baked.
Sweet Potato Minis with Rum-Brown Sugar Glaze
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above
Make in a shiny metal mini-Bundt pan with 5-ounce-capacity cups
Yields nine 2 ¾ -inch cakes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dried cranberries or golden raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 ½ plus 2 tablespoons bleached flour, spoon and level
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup packed roasted sweet potato puree
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup roasted pecan pieces
1 tablespoon dried cranberries or raisins, chopped, optional
1. Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 if your pan is dark metal), with a rack in the center position. Grease the cups in your pan with a baking spray that contains flour and set it aside. Combine the dried fruit and rum in a small bowl, making sure all the fruit is submerged in the alcohol. Cover and microwave at high temperature for about 20 seconds, until the fruit has absorbed some of the liquid, uncover and set aside to cool. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine well. Set aside.
2. Beat the eggs and sugar: With an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture is pale and thick, from 2-4 minutes, depending on your mixer’s power. Using low speed, beat in the oil and vanilla. Add the sweet potato puree and, on low speed, beat until it’s fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and starting and ending with the flour. Drain the dried fruit well (save the rum), and stir it into the batter.
3. Spoon the batter: Into the prepared pan, filling the cups two-thirds of the way to the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean; start checking after 20 minutes in the oven.
4. Make the glaze while the cakes bake: Combine the butter, corn syrup, and whipping cream in a small saucepan and, stirring constantly, heat on the stovetop at medium-low temperature until the butter is fully melted and the ingredients are combined. Add the brown sugar, keep stirring, and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue at a low boil, stirring, until the mixture thickens and gets syrupy. Remove it from the heat, cool slightly, and stir in the reserved rum. Taste, add more rum if desired. Set aside until the cakes finish baking.
5. Lightly grease a wire cooling rack: Remove the pan from the oven and place it on the rack. Let it cool for about 5 minutes then invert it onto the rack and let the cakes fall out; the top sides will now be up. Immediately, while still hot, use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the cakes and generously brush on the glaze. Sprinkle chopped pecans and dried fruit (if using) on the tops. Drizzle any remaining glaze over them. If the glaze thickens too much to pour easily during this step, reheat it. Let the glazed cakes cool to room temperature. Store covered, in the fridge. Rewarm in a microwave or 325-degree oven before serving.
Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco, and Breck Books in Breckenridge). She became a full-time Frisco resident in 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.