recipe-sweet-potato-pakeJuan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla

You’ll need a springform or loose bottom cake tin for this recipe. We couldn’t decide whether to call this recipe a “pie” or a “cake”, so we opted for “pake”. This is as close to a satisfying healthy-ish dessert as you can get… unless you eat half of it in one go…

Serves 10


  • 1 kilo of sweet potato
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g dark brown sugar
  • 200g reduced fat digestives
  • 100g melted butter
  • 200g pecans
  • 225g caster sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6 and line the bottom and sides of your cake tin with baking parchment paper.
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Place them in a pot with just enough water to cover them and boil until you can insert a fork through them without any significant resistance. Drain.
  3. Crush the digestives in a food processor or by hand then mix in the melted butter using a fork. Spread this mixture over the base of your paper-lined tin allowing some of it to come up the sides.
  4. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes, the coconut oil and 50 grams of butter until well incorporated. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and continue mashing it to get the spices well distributed. Taste and adjust the spices if you prefer. Remember that the sugar has not been incorporated yet.
  5. Separately beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the eggs frothy. Add the sweet potato mash and mix with an electric beater until it is all well combined. This will be a runny batter, but if your instinct tells you it is too runny (and if you are not coeliac, you can add a couple tablespoons of flour). Pour into your prepared tin and place into the preheated oven.
  6. Reduce the temperature to 180ºC/gas mark 4 and bake for approximately one hour. I like to preheat my oven at a higher temperature than the baking temperature, because I feel that a lot of heat is lost when I open the oven door.
  7. This cake is very moist so a toothpick test may not be ideal. It should feel firm in the centre to the touch. It will condense and solidify as it cools. Remove from the oven and let it cool at room temperature while you prepare the pecans.
  8. On your work space layout a piece of parchment paper and select 20 – 25 of the best pecans and have to clean forks at hand.
  9. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add a splash of water. The water helps to distribute the heat and melt the sugar before it starts caramelising. Place the pan over a high heat and let it simmer, giving it a gentle swirl from time to time to help the sugar dissolve. As soon as the sugar takes on the colour of honey, lower the heat to the lowest temperature possible to slow down the caramelising. By keeping some heat you also prevent the caramel from going hard.
  10. Drop a few pecans into the caramel and using your forks, cover them completely in caramel before fishing them out and placing them onto the paper. Continue until you have all the pecans you need (and more for snacking as you won’t be able to resist the temptation).
  11. Remove the pake from your tin and place onto your serving dish, then make sure the caramelised pecans are completely cooled before you decorate.


This recipe originally appeared in FOOD&WINE Magazine, November 2016


Recipe credit: Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla

Photography credit: Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla

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