Sweet potato cakes

I learned how to make things stick a long time ago. Although mathematics are not my strong point, I know from experience that any combination  of ingredients requires the right proportions in order to work.  Whether making fresh pasta, gnocchi or polpette — the Italian name for an edible ball of goodness — it’s all about texture.

Below the simplest of recipes for savory cakes made from sweet potatoes. You can flavor them to fit almost any kitchen tradition; here I am keeping their style Italian in nature. The size you choose to shape them, will make them the perfect fit for an appetizer or a main course meal. This recipe even makes its way easily onto a slice of toasted bread when patted into the shape of the iconic burger.

Life is full of possibilities and so is cooking in other words. . .


  • 250 grams of baked sweet potato
  • 175 grams finely ground white almonds
  • 1-2 small cloves of the freshest garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 50 grams fine cornmeal
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 6 sage leaves
  • a pinch of finely ground fennel seeds
  • 25 grams extra cornmeal for dusting the cakes
  • lemon yogurt dressing to dip with . see recipe below

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes twenty to thirty minutes or until a knife cuts easily through them. Allow them to cool slightly before peeling them. Smash the potatoes into an even mash by hand or with a potato masher (whatever you do don’t use a mixer or blender for the potatoes as it turns them into a runny mess and ruins their texture).

Meanwhile grind the almonds into a fine powder with a pestle and mortar or a food processor. Wash the lemon and grate the bright yellow zest with a citrus peeler. Chop the fresh sage. Peel the garlic clove and chop it very fine with a sharp knife. Grind the fennel seeds into a fine powder. Place the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Separate the egg white from the yolk and add the yolk to the almond mixture and stir well with a spoon. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and put the mixture in the refrigerator about 15 minutes to set.

Test the potato cake mixture for firmness by squeezing two tablespoons loosely in the palm of your hands. If the mixture sticks together, the consistency is just right. If not, add some extra finely ground almonds or cornmeal for more firmness. Taste the ingredients for the right balance between garlic, citrus and sage. Add more of any of these three ingredients according to your personal preference.

Place three tablespoons of cornmeal into a small bowl and one tablespoon of olive oil into another. Form evenly shaped cakes from the sweet potato mixture.Brush them with olive oil and dust them with cornmeal. Place the cakes on an oven platter covered with parchment paper. Bake them in 15-20 minutes golden brown.

Serve the sweet potato cakes while still warm with the following dip, adding some saffron or freshly chopped red peppers for color and spice.

Lemon-yogurt dip

  • 150 grams thick Turkish or Greek yogurt
  • one tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • one garlic clove
  • a pinch of Himalaya or Celtic sea salt
  • Optional . a pinch of saffron
  • Optional . a pinch finely chopped fresh red pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper

Scrub the lemon with a brush under cold running water. Grate the peel of the lemon with a zester catching the thin lemon curls into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice into a bowl. Pour two tablespoons of lemon juice into a separate bowl. Finely chop one teaspoon of lemon zest, saving the rest to decorate the fish cakes with. Add the lemon zest, the garlic clove, Dijon mustard, saffron and red pepper (if using) as well as a pinch of sea salt. Stir in the yogurt and mix the ingredients until smooth well with a fork.

Suggested combinations 

Any and every kind of fresh garden lettuce goes well with these sweet potato cakes. However they can be served as an appetizer next to grilled shrimp or even fresh mozzarella drizzled with some sea salt and olive oil.


Add fresh coriander and mint to this recipe for a Moroccan twist. Fresh dill makes it particularly Turkish and freshly ground turmeric with ginger makes it decidedly South African, especially when some cumin is sprinkled over the sweet potatoes while baking.




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