Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sweet Potato, Coconut and Orange Cake with Orange Ricotta Cream

I've been trying to develop my repertoire of "healthy" cakes to eat as training snacks and I have to say that this one ticks most boxes. For a cake, it is pretty high in 'good' calories and it has a medium glycaemic index so it will keep up your energy levels for a while longer than, say, a traditional victoria sponge. Based on sweet potatoes, it is not packed with too much sugar and other nasties, as the potato provides enough sweetness in itself. And what's more, sweet potatoes can be included as part of your five a day! It is also made with unrefined wholemeal flour and soft brown sugar. I have to say that dessicated coconut is pretty high in fat, but it really adds to the flavour and we marathon runners need a little bit of fat or we might fade away completely!
 Some may balk at the idea of sweet potato in a cake - my 15-year old daughter, for instance, said "Yuk! Sweet potato is just not meant to be in cakes, mum, why don't you just make some wedges (sweet potato chips), they're delicious" -
 but I noticed her helping herself to a second slice and quite openly admitting that, actually it was delicious...

There is a lot of talk about the importance of sticking to slow-burning, low G.I. foods to keep energy levels at a contstant level, hence the advantages of eating porridge before a big race or training run.  Carbohydrate is stored in the muscles as glycogen. If you are training intensively and for long periods,  you need to keep these glycogen levels  "fuelled up" at a constant level or the glycogen in your muscles will start to gradually become depleted, you will tire and your stamina will start to wane. It will also keep your blood 
sugar levels steady, reduce those mighty hunger pangs and sugar cravings and help maintain your energy levels. More of this later, or take a look at my eat well, run well posting, but here's the recipe for the delicious sweet potato cake:

Sweet Potato, Coconut and Orange Cake with Orange Ricotta Cream

Use a 20cm round spring form tin

110g butter
200g sweet potato (about 2 medium-sized potatoes), peeled and finely grated
50g desicated coconut
140g soft brown sugar
140g wholemeal self-raising flour
3 large free-range eggs
zest of one orange
juice of 1/2 orange (about 50ml)
25g pecans
50g sultanas
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of  salt

  1. Turn on the oven to 170 degrees (fan oven temp). Grease the tin lightly.
  2. Cream together the butter, orange zest and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, beating well as you add each one.
  4. Fold in the grated sweet potato and the coconut.
  5. Add the orange juice and then fold in the flour, nuts, sultanas, cinnamon, salt and bicarbonate of soda.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about 45 mins. You will know the cake is done as the cake will come away from the side of the tin and if you place a skewer into the middle of the cake it will come out clean.
  7. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Spread the ricotta cream on top when cool and enjoy!
Orange Ricotta Cream 
25g unsalted butter, softened
1 250g pot ricotta 
1 tbsp icing sugar
finely grated zest of one orange

  1. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined and smooth.


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