Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake {gluten-free}

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake is a beautifully flavoured and textured cake. Sweet potato and cream cheese are baked into the butterscotchy sponge whilst ripples of buttery cinnamon swirl through the centre. A generous pouring of thick maple cream cheese icing makes this cake one of the best of the season.

overhead shot of slices of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake on a plate with a sifter and sweet potatoes

This Sweet Potato Cake is the recipe which I get the most requests for. A cheeky email from a friend here, a sly DM popping up from a customer there. And I’m always willing to oblige, this cake needs to be made, eaten and loved at any given opportunity.

It’s also the cake I choose to accompany me anytime I volunteer to bring a sweet and it always goes down a storm. I have regular customers that return to the cake stall time and time again, making the trip across London, just for this Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake. Believe me, it’s well worth the trouble. Even though I don’t restrict this cake to the cooler months since it seems to receive love all year round, Autumn is when the rich flavours of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl truly shine.

straight on shot of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake on a plate with a sifter and sweet potatoes in the foreground

Why is this Sweet Potato Cake so brilliant?

  • Richly flavourful with sweet potato, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Gluten-free sweet rice flour, oat flour and potato starch give the cake beautiful flavour and texture.
  • Black pepper is added to the cake to give a gentle warmth
  • Thick maple cream cheese icing drizzled over the top.
  • Oh, and of course it’s one of your 5-a-day so you’re doing your health a favour.

overhead shot of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake on a plate with a sifter and sweet potatoes

Sweet Potato in a cake?

I’m British so I would never normally sweeten my sweet potatoes when eaten as a savoury dish. When I was in Alabama a few years ago I ordered mashed sweet potatoes as a side and was astounded by the heavy sugar added into this already very sweet ingredient to accompany my fillet steak. I hesitate to say I didn’t like it, but at the risk of offending a whole lot of Americans, I really didn’t.

However, because of the natural sugars present then sweet potatoes are absolutely delicious in a dessert. Their rich earthy flavour pairs beautifully with warm comforting Autumn flavours and gentle spicing. Sweet Potato Pie is a classic for a reason. Or how about you try this Sweet Potato Chocolate Truffle Torte?  However, in this Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake the sweet potatoes find another extremely comfortable home.

How do you prepare the sweet potato?

Many recipes might tell you to peel, chop and boil the sweet potato in chunks then mash when cooked. I prefer a different, more flavourful way.

Bake the sweet potato in their skins

Wrap each sweet potato individually in foil then bake for 1 hour at an oven set to 180°C. They are ready when you press gently into the potato and your finger squishes in. Leave them to cool before unwrapping from the foil and their loosened skins. They will be so soft that you can just mash them with a fork.

overhead shot of slices of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake on a plate with a sifter and sweet potatoes

Black Pepper

Something else which might surprise you in this recipe is the use of black pepper. I love using freshly ground black peppercorns in some of my bakes as it adds a deep rich spice note. It doesn’t interfere with any of the flavours but just enhances the background kick. The baking process also removes its heat so don’t worry if you don’t like things too spicy.

Gluten-Free Flours

Oat Flour – its rich toasted butterscotch undertones compliment the savouriness of the sweet potato, tang of the cream cheese and warmth of the cinnamon. I haven’t tasted another cake like this one.

However oat flour is one of those gluten-free flours that not all wheat intolerant folks can handle, so tread carefully here if you are making it for someone else who is gluten-free. It’s possible to buy gluten-free oat flour but if you can’t find it at your local health food shop or supermarket then you can grind your own gluten-free oats. For more detailed info on oat flour and grinding your own, see my post here.

Sweet Rice Flour – a delicately flavourful flour that provides excellent structure and texture to the cake. Its naturally sticky tendencies mean the cake holds together beautifully. For more info on how to use Sweet Rice Flour see here.

Potato Starch – This flour is used to balance out the cake so that we don’t overuse the sweet rice flour which could lead to a dense cake. It’s neutral and great for pairing with other gluten-free flours.

overhead shot of slices of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake on a plate with a sifter and sweet potatoes

Maple Extract

Another slightly unusual ingredient in this cake is the maple extract used in the maple cream cheese icing. I first came across maple extract in a recipe by The Pioneer Woman for her famous cinnamon rolls where she insists that it should not be substituted for maple syrup. So when I first made cinnamon rolls I complied to the letter of instruction. I have to say it does make all the difference.

If you were to use maple syrup you would have to use a fair amount to really get the flavour of maple into your icing which then distorts the liquid ratio in the recipe and adds too much sweetness when you are already using icing sugar. The maple extract imbues the icing with its beautifully rich flavour without any of the former problems. It’s not easy to buy in shops but I use this Cupcake World Intense Food Flavouring Maple 100 ml from Amazon and it works brilliantly.

overhead shot of slice of Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake on a plate with a sifter and sweet potatoes

I urge you to give this Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake a try, it’s really one of my favourites and a cake I will never tire of baking or eating. If you do make this Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating.

If you make the recipe or use it as a building block for another delicious gluten-free cake creation, say maybe swapping out the sweet potato for pumpkin, I’d also love it if you tag me on instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your creations and variations of my recipes.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake {gluten-free}

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Cake is deeply flavourful with butterscotch undertones rippled with buttery cinnamon and drizzled with maple cream cheese icing.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 752kcal

Ingredients

  • 170 g sweet rice flour
  • 170 g oat flour
  • 35 g potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 245 g sweet potato puree* about 3 sweet potatoes
  • 245 g cream cheese
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 g light soft brown sugar
  • 225 g butter melted
  • 3 eggs

Cinnamon Swirl

  • 15 g butter melted
  • 30 g light brown sugar
  • 40 g icing sugar
  • 15 ml whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Maple Cream Cheese icing

  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 30 g salted butter at room temperature
  • 80 g cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoons whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon maple extract/flavouring

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 170°C and grease and flour a 10 inch bundt tin.
  • First of all prepare the cinnamon swirl by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl and then set aside.
  • For the cake, sift together, in a large bowl, the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and pepper, then set aside.
  • In another bowl beat together the sweet potato, cream cheese and vanilla extract. Again, set aside.
  • Beat the sugars and butter together in a food mixer until well incorporated.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time until the batter is smooth.
  • Finally spoon in 1/3 of the flour, beat into the batter then add 1/3 of the sweet potato mixture and beat in. Repeat until all the flour and the sweet potato mixture has been incorporated into the batter.
  • Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the prepared bundt tin and smooth down. Dot half of the cinnamon swirl mixture in and swirl with a cocktail stick.
  • Spoon the next 1/3 of the batter and repeat with the cinnamon swirl.
  • Spoon the rest of the batter in, smoothing the surface.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, rest for five minutes and then carefully remove the cake from the bundt tin. Cool completely on a wire rack then drizzle with the maple cream cheese icing.
  • Finally spinkle some extra cinnamon over the top of the cake.
  • For the maple cream cheese icing beat the icing sugar together with the salted butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Then add the whole milk and maple extract and beat until combined.
  • Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Nutrition

Calories: 752kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 622mg | Potassium: 366mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 68g | Vitamin A: 5890IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 1.5mg

This recipe was updated in November 2019 to give clearer instructions and expert tips on how to make this cake.