Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chocolate Roasted Potato Cake

E and I recently hosted a double-birthday/holiday potluck. My friend whose birthday was approaching said she wanted something "chocolate," when I asked her what I could bake her -- not terribly helpful, but she's also super laid back, so I wasn't too concerned either.

I, however, don't like chocolate cake and even though I wasn't planning to eat any of it (even if I'd made it gluten-free, using my standby chocolate gluten-free cake recipe), I wanted to at least try to make something that wouldn't, well, be dry and tasteless. And, I told myself, I'm not on a budget that really lets me try multiple variations of things. So, whatever I did with a chocolate cake, I needed to make sure that it was something that I wouldn't mess up--or that I'd have alternate ingredients for if I did mess it up.

E suggested the brownies I posted in November. Doable, definitely. Even if I messed up the cake. But, this was an opportunity to try making something new and how could I pass that up? In recent weeks, I've felt barely able to write--or even think about writing--much less do anything more than put rather routine (for me) food in my mouth. I haven't wanted to be creative. My friend's birthday though, seemed like a good opportunity to spark some of that kitchen-creativity again. So, I thought: chocolate. And I thought: birthday. To me, this surely equals some sort of cake.

I remembered my friend Kim, a talented writer and generally wonderful person, had a potato party while I lived in the Midwest. She'd bid on a bushel of potatoes during an auction and won--and wanted help eating them all. One of the things she made: chocolate potato cake. And, I remembered seeing recipes for potato cakes (and sauerkraut cakes) in my parents' German cookbook.

I remember trying Kim's chocolate potato cake--before I went GF--and thinking that it was surprisingly good--and delightfully moist. And this, I decided, was what I wanted to make. But, most of the recipes I looked at called for unseasoned mashed potatoes. I understood that, to some extent. The process of creating mashed potatoes necessarily creates a little additional moistness. But I know how to make things more moist. I wanted to subtly up the flavor a little. I'm in favor of roasting things--especially in the winter, when I can also use it to warm up the house (though I pan roasted the potato for this, so not applicable). And because I didn't have enough potato for any of the recipes I looked at, I added a couple of carrots to the roasting process. I always have carrots on hand.

I also thought about making this cake into a Mexican chocolate cake, with cayenne and cinnamon. But I couldn't bring myself to do that either--at least not to the whole cake. It can surprise come as a surprise if you're not expecting all those extra flavors in your cake.

Chocolate Roasted Potato Cake

1 cup unseasoned mashed potato/carrot mixture (for me, this was one medium potato and two large carrots all finely diced which I pan-roasted for about 45 minutes before processing in my food processor until nearly smooth)
1 cup buttermilk
1 ¾ cups sifted all purpose flour
1 cup unsweeted dutch cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup salted butter (softened)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans and set aside.

Place mashed potatoes/carrots into medium bowl. With a small whisk, gradually beat in buttermilk to form smooth mixture.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until well blended. .
Add eggs and blend well. Add mayonnaise and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

At lowest speed, alternate adding both the dry ingredients (from step 3) and smashed veggies (a little dry ingredients, a little smashed veggies, a little dry, a little smashed veggies etc.) until all are incorporated.

Turn equal amounts of batter into prepared baking pans. Bake in preheated oven 27 to 32 minutes (for a 10” cake pan; 15-18 minutes for cupcakes), rotating once about halfway during the baking process.

Cake is cooked when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. When done remove to a cooling rack. Cool completely before removing from pans and cutting. If desired, frost or sift confectioners’ sugar over top of cake after the cake has cooled completely.

Note: The pictures you see of the iced cupcakes use just a basic buttercream.

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