Where My Loyalties Lie*: Sweet Potato Cake

I’m a fan of project cooking. Right now, without actually going to look in the basement, I know I have at least four on-going recipes.  Cheese, sausages, anything that marinates or brines for a few days, I’m on it.

The recipe that caught my eye first in this month’s Saveur is really four recipes in one.  The Sweet Potato Cake in question requires you to make candied pecans, marshmallow meringue filling, and praline topping, in addition to the actual cake batter – which requires you to roast sweet potatoes, as a preliminary step.  It was a day-long process and like most slow food, oh so worth it.

The recipe is the Savour’s test kitchen’s rift on the Thanksgiving stereotype. As a savory dish, the combination of sweet potatoes and marshmallows repels me, but reconstructed as dessert? I’m up for that. I did change the recipe – but not enough to call it an adaptation. I used whole wheat flour and roasted, peeled and mashed three pears along with one large sweet potato, so I had a about a half a cup more mashed content than called for in the recipe. And I cut the amount of butter and sugar in the cake batter in half – hoping the pears would make up for lost fat and sugar. Which they did – next time I’ll cut the sugar back even farther.

The cake was a showstopper. I’m going to make it again for Thanksgiving – and serve it with the Apple Cider Cinnamon Ice Cream in the same issue. Saveur has me hooked.

I’ve been waiting for a new food magazine to love for a long time. For more than 15 years I was a loyal Bon Appétit reader. Fanatic reader is more like it. I toted my ever growing collection of magazines from coast to coast, twice.  At one point, I even bought a cabinet just to hold all the back issues.

In dark ages before Epicurious I remembered where my favorite recipes were by each issue’s cover shot. I read other food magazines, of course, but Bon Appétit taught me to cook and in return I offered my undying enthusiasm.

Then slowly – but still long before the most recent editorial upheaval, things began to change. The recipes were still there, but the magazine took on a slicker tone – more celebrity interviews, less depth. And I started buying Gourmet more often; we all know how that fling ended. One day, I tossed all the back issues and then I let my subscription lapse. It was over.

Since then, I’ve had a wandering eye. Someone gave me a subscription to Rachael Ray’s magazine – that was a breathtakingly bad fit. For a while I followed Cooking Light, till their tone and the food itself began to irritate me. And Cooks Illustrated is the best cure for insomnia I’ve ever found.

But I kept coming back to Saveur.  I love the depth with which they cover material – like say, the history of sweet potato casserole.  Did you know that particular combination dates to 1917?

So finally, I subscribed – on my Ipad. This way I can skip thinking about the environmental costs of paper production, the carbon footprint of snail mail delivery, or the urge to hoard back issues. It’s a guilt free indulgence.

Not at all like the cake.

* “Very well,” Snape cut in. “We’ll have another little chat soon, when you’ve had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie.”

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