Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

It seems like I always purchase one too many sweet potatoes for the recipe that I’m making. I hate to waste food. Here’s a coffee cake recipe which uses just one sweet potato. I have been sharing Louisiana cuisine and beyond on my blog since my blog began. “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping” is one of the first recipe ideas which I posted and it is still one of my favorite recipes. Today I made the coffee cake again using my last sweet potato. This coffee cake is full of pumpkin pie-type spices. The batter it includes both brown sugar and molasses. Add a crumb topping with aromatic pecans and the result is an absolutely delicious coffee cake. Watch out — it is hard to resist a second piece.

Just one sweet potato – let’s not forget the nutrition

This recipe uses just one medium-sized sweet potato. Why bother with only one sweet potato? Sweet potatoes are so high in nutritional value; it is worth adding them to recipes. The nutritional value of sweet potatoes includes many vitamins (especially beta-carotene), minerals, fiber and antioxidants which help in preventing chronic diseases and some types of cancers. The fiber in sweet potatoes is important since processed foods today simply lack this nutrient. Going back to basic food ingredients is just healthy — there is no other way to say it.

Louisiana Sweet Potatoes

Since sweet potatoes are a Louisiana agricultural product, I feature recipes for this nutritious root vegetable in the autumn when they are harvested. Sweet potatoes are inexpensive and they are very mellow in taste at harvest time.

Surprisingly, I have found many ways to add sweet potatoes to recipes. For example, recipes which use bananas or applesauce can be adapted to use sweet potatoes instead. The consistency of all three ingredients is about the same. Plus, there are many other ways to sneak sweet potatoes into a dish.

My posted recipes over the years have ranged from soups, to Brazilian sweet potato bread to Cajun sweet potato fries to Ruth Chris Restaurant’s sweet potato casserole. A slightly decadent recipe which I’m sharing next month, “Brown Sugar Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow & Pecan Topping,” might be one of my favorites. It is very easy to make and I love the marshmallow topping (although I burnt it). Don’t do that.

Now I’m on a sweet potato “kick” and have discovered several great recipe ideas which I will share over the next month. Here is this week’s recipe for “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping.” The recipe originally appeared in an issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. Unfortunately, this magazine ceased publication, their WEB site was removed and lost my internet link. But, I saved my adapted recipe. Here’s the sweet potato coffee cake that I made several years ago. Yom!

Coffee Cake Recipe

The recipe calls for sweet potato pulp, so I peeled and cut the sweet potato into chunks and boiled the chunks for 20 minutes in a small amount of salted water. Then I drained the chunks and mashed them with a potato ricer. The pulp is ready to add to the batter.

The coffee cake recipe includes pumpkin-pie spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The aromatic spices as well as molasses and brown sugar give flavor to this recipe..

The coffee cake has a crumb topping, so you don’t need to add an icing to this cake. I mixed up the ingredients for the crumb topping first and set the mixture aside while making the cake. The ingredients for the topping are all-purpose flour, margarine, brown sugar and pecans. Just mix them together with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. (And there is no need to melt the margarine — it is already very soft.)

One Bowl Recipe

You don’t need an electric mixer to make this coffee cake; it is a one-bowl recipe. To mix it up, simply beat the eggs until blended with a wire whip in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar and “wet” ingredients — oil, molasses and sweet potato pulp. Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Mix into the batter. Pour into an oiled 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle on the crumb topping (which you already mixed up).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. This is a dense and moist coffee cake — don’t expect it to poof up like a dessert cake.

Cut and serve. Best when served warm. This cake freezes well. It is easy to re-heat just a piece or two at a time. This makes a great nutritious breakfast cake as well as an afternoon snack. And the cake is crumbly! This recipe is a “keeper.” Enjoy!

And it turns out this wasn’t my last sweet potato. It is hard to resist the display of local product inside the door of Whole Foods Grocery. More sweet potato recipes are to follow.

Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

  • Servings: 24 small squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecan pieces

Ingredients for Coffee Cake:

  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato (about 3/4 pound) to make 1 cup to 1-1/2 when cooked and mashed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Method and Steps:

  1. Make crumb topping: In a medium-size bowl, add flour and brown sugar and stir to combine. Add margarine (do not melt). Use back of fork to combine margarine in. The streusel should feel lumpy. Add the chopped pecan pieces and stir to come. Set aside.
  2. Cook sweet potato: Peel sweet potato and cut into chunks. Add to a small saucepan along with about 1″ water. Bring sweet potatoes to a boil. Then lower the temperature of the burner so that the sweet potatoes are just boiling. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Use a knife to pierce a sweet potato to make sure it is tender. If not, cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove sweet potatoes from stove and drain. Transfer to a bowl. Use a potato ricer to mash the sweet potato chunks. This should yield about 1 to 1/2 cups sweet potato pulp. Set aside. (This can be made a day ahead.)
  3. When ready to make the coffee cake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
  4. Make the cake batter: Add eggs to a large bowl. Use a wire whip to blend up the eggs.
  5. Add the brown sugar, oil and molasses. Stir to combine.
  6. Then add in the reserved sweet potato pulp and stir.
  7. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  8. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the sweet potato mixture. Stir until the flour is just incorporated into the sweet potatoes. Do not over stir.
  9. Pour batter into the oiled baking pan.
  10. Sprinkle the crumb topping with pecans evenly over the coffee cake batter.
  11. Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes until batter is set around the sides.
  12. Remove from oven, cool until coffee cake can easily be handled. Cut into 24 small pieces.
  13. Serve warm. The coffee cake is crumbly
  14. Coffee cake pieces can be frozen. Simply remove a piece from freezer and re-heat in microwave oven or air fryer.  

A Note About My Original Recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine

The original recipe for “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping” came from an issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. I simply posted a link to the magazine’s WEB site in my original blog post. Since that time, Fine Cooking Magazine was sold to the venerable Meredith Corporation which was founded in 1902 and is best known for publishing Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living. Meredith Corp removed the Fine Cooking WEB site and all the recipes on it. My recipe link was broken. In 2021, the remaining magazines which were published by Meredith were sold to New York-based digital publisher IAC Dotdash. Fine Cooking Magazine ceased publication totally.

How disappointing; I loved the recipes and articles in that magazine and used them for many of my recipe inspirations. I am disappointed that one of my favorite cuisine magazines, Fine Cooking, ended its publication. Our world is changing and digital publications seem to be the new generation of news. I have to admit that I use the internet extensively, too. But occasionally it is nice to sit down and read a printed magazine — or a book. It is a way for me to relax and forget about all the troubles in the world!

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