A Great Cake and a Happy Ending: Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Fresh Ginger and Pecan Streusel Topping
I've subscribed to Fine Cooking for years. While I have paper copies of many issues as well as several bound recipe compilations, I have always relied heavily on the magazine's website to easily search for recipes; having a paid subscription to the magazine gave me full access to the online recipe archives. But sometime in September, I tried to visit finecooking.com to look for a recipe and I kept getting redirected to another site. I could not figure out what was happening. A bit of Googling revealed that Fine Cooking was purchased from Taunton Press by Meredith Publishing, and Meredith decided to take down the website with absolutely no warning, notice, or explanation to subscribers. Fine Cooking subscribers lost access to all of the recipes on the website and our personalized recipe boxes where we saved favorites. People were understandably angry, me included.
I was feeling nostalgic for the magazine and decided to bake something from one of the compilations I own. Fine Cooking Cakes & Cupcakes includes a recipe for Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Fresh Ginger and Pecan Streusel Topping that seemed like it would be perfect for fall, and quite comforting for someone trying to eat her disappointment about the demise of the Fine Cooking website.
I had to roast and mash a sweet potato for this recipe, but other than that, it was pretty straightforward. To make the cake batter, you combine oil, brown sugar, and eggs; whisk in mashed sweet potato, molasses, grated ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg; and incorporate sifted flour and baking soda. While I did take the time to grind my own cardamom from dried pods, I took a shortcut by using packaged grated ginger from The Farm at Red Hill that is sold at Whole Foods supermarkets in the area. You can buy 7 ounces of fresh grated ginger for $5 and even freeze it for future use. It is such a time saver and peeling ginger is a hassle that I particularly despise. I poured the batter into a parchment-lined pan and sprinkled on a streusel made of flour, brown sugar, toasted pecans, salt, and melted butter.
This cake was absolutely delicious. It was dense, moist, and nicely spicy. The crunchy, buttery nuggets of streusel were decadent, and the ginger flavor was so prominent that I could have sworn that there were small pieces of crystallized ginger in the topping. Come to think of it, a bit of chopped crystallized ginger would be a nice addition, but honestly, this cake was immensely satisfying just as is. It was so warm and comforting and a perfect fall cake.
And this story has a happy ending even beyond this wonderful cake. After fielding many complaints from irate and frustrated subscribers, the folks at Meredith resurrected the Fine Cooking website in late November. I'm so relieved to be able to access the recipe archives again -- and to be able to share this fantastic recipe with you!
Recipe: "Sweet Potato Spike Cake with Fresh Ginger and Pecan Streusel Topping" by Nicole Rees, from Fine Cooking.