Treat me: Kumara and cardamom cake

On Monday night I went to the official opening of Le Cordon Bleu in Wellington, which was a veritable who’s who of the New Zealand food scene. Even the Prime Minister was there, presumably because he pulls on a barbecue apron whenever a member of the royal family is in town.
I’m not sure what – or who – caused the fire alarm that saw us all stand outside in the pouring rain for 20 minutes and I had to leave before the hotly-anticipated canapes came out, but it was great to see so much interest in the local food scene. Perhaps the nicest words came from Mr Cordon Bleu himself, Andre Cointreau, who praised New Zealand produce (even the wine).
I’m not suggesting for a minute that it’s up to Cordon Bleu standards, but this cake makes the most of one of our most underrated indigenous ingredients, the humble kumara.

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato And Cardamom Cake Photo Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Kumara and cardamom cake
It’s been a bit grim for kumara growers ‘up north’ this year, but there are still plenty around. I love kumara every which way (including this way), but this was my first time trying it in a cake. It’s worked so well that I’ve decided to make this my entry for this month’s Sweet New Zealand, hosted by the lovely Sue of Couscous and Consciousness. The easiest way to cook kumara is to bake it in the oven – then you can just scoop out the flesh. Whatever way you cook it, let the mash cool to room temperature before adding it to the mixture.

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature
150g ground almonds
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g mashed kumara (or sweet potato)

Heat the oven to 175C and grease and line a 23cm ring tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, while continue to beat. Add a spoonful of the ground almonds along with each egg – this will help prevent curdling. When all the eggs have been added, stir through the cardamom, baking powder and mashed kumara until combined.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out cleanly. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out to a rack to cool.

When the cake is cold, you can drizzle over an icing made from a cup of icing sugar sifted into a small bowl with 1/2 – 1tsp ground cardamom, 1tsp butter and a tablespoon (or so) of boiling water. Add more water, cautiously, to get to the right consistency.

Have a great weekend everyone. I’m planning to spend it studying Jerusalem and thinking deeply about our garden. Oh, and having houseguests, one of whom is 11 months old. Perhaps I should revise those first two aims. Hope you have a good one x



  1. October 11, 2012 / 9:11 pm

    Great gluten-free recipe. Kumara and cardamom sounds interesting.

  2. October 11, 2012 / 9:13 pm

    i do a carrot and cardamon cake which is totally yum, i wonder if you could just grate the kumera like you do a carrot ?? lazy me just trying to get out of the baking kumera step ….

  3. October 11, 2012 / 11:33 pm

    Am totally addicted to vegetable cakes and kumara is quite special. A good reminder to me to give this another go soon.

  4. October 12, 2012 / 7:14 am

    such a pretty cake and a great ingredient to use in there too… loving all these vegetable cakes right now!

  5. October 12, 2012 / 2:45 pm

    Perfect to showcase our Kumara. I have used it grated like carrot in cake Paula as I am a bit lazy too.

  6. October 13, 2012 / 7:28 am

    What a fabulous way to get one of your 5 plus a day 🙂 Gorgeous looking cake Lucy.

  7. October 13, 2012 / 9:10 pm

    Fabulous looking cake and so pretty too, I wonder if pumpkin would work too? Love it! Karen

  8. October 13, 2012 / 9:42 pm

    This sounds lovely. I don't think kumara is humble or, at least, it doesn't deserve to be humble. I had nothing to do with the fire alarm – honest.

  9. October 14, 2012 / 1:34 am

    Have bookmarked this – never used kumara in a cake but intrigued, especially as it's gluten free. Also loving Jerusalem; such a gorgeous book, especially with all the stories – makes you realise how dull some cookbooks are.

  10. October 14, 2012 / 1:14 pm

    What a great recipe and I love that it is gluten free too.

  11. October 16, 2012 / 5:28 am

    i adore roasted sweet potatos ( as we call it here in australia). i've never made it into a cake, i'm sure it would be wonderfully sweet.

  12. October 16, 2012 / 7:04 pm

    Yowza! Awesome-looking cake. *bookmarked. Thank you for the recipe. I'll try this.

  13. October 25, 2012 / 1:59 pm

    Perfect flavours and gluten free. Yum x

  14. October 30, 2012 / 11:31 pm

    I love kumara cakes, the texture is perfect, and I never tried with cardamom, will need to make a note, good that it is going to be saved in the Sweet New Zealand archives :-).

    Sorry that you missed the canapés at Le Cordon Bleu, it must have been quite stressful for them to have the fire alarm going off, but I guess that it is better to be out in the rain for a false alarm than risking to be barbecued inside, even in the company of a Prime Minister!


  15. November 5, 2012 / 9:50 am

    Like you, Lucy, I adore kumara in pretty much any incarnation. I've often thought about substituting kumara in a carrot cake recipe to see what would happen, but this one sounds fabulous. Love the combo with the cardamom – I totally want to try this.

    Thanks for sharing this at Sweet NZ – the round-up is now posted here

    Hope you have fun hosting this month.


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