By Angela Denstad Stigeler
It’s coming up on St. Patrick’s Day again, right when we’re all yearning to see a bit of green. Rather than dye any desserts, I’m going to enjoy a basic Bundt cake with a couple of traditional Irish additions. If you’re thinking of the usual alcohol-based fortifiers for which Ireland is famous, you’ll have to look elsewhere—this cake requires chocolate and potatoes.
While you might not think of chocolate as being very Irish, the cocoa confection arrived on the Emerald Isle in the late 1600s and took the Dubliners by storm. Chocolate houses were the height of fashion throughout the 18th century and, as prices on the candy came down, the Irish at one point came to consume more chocolate per capita than the Swiss. As to the potato, which is native to the Americas, we can nevertheless see the historical connection to the Irish. It seems, however, a strange thing to put into a cake. But when finely riced, the potato starch serves to moisten the cake, improving the overall texture.
This version of chocolate-potato cake can be traced back to Irish cookbooks of the early 1800s. So if you find yourself longing for a real Irish treat, try your hand at this St. Paddy cake.
Chocolate Potato Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
4 ounces chocolate, finely grated or ground in a food processor
5 rounded tablespoons (1 3/40 ounces) ground almonds
1 cup (about 5 ounces) lightly packed cold riced potato*
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk, room temperature
cocoa powder for dusting
Prepare a standard Bundt pan or large springform cake pan by greasing well and dusting with cocoa powder. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and set aside. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and set aside.
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks, one at a time, to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the grated chocolate and ground almonds. Add the riced potato and stir again.
Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently until smooth after each addition.
Fold the whipped egg whites carefully into the cake mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and tap gently to settle. Bake for an hour. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer and bake for another 15 minutes if needed. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for at least twenty minutes before unmolding. Cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
*The best way to prepare the potato for this recipe is to boil one large or two medium potatoes in their jackets until tender. Drain, cool, peel and rice or finely grate. Be sure the potato is completely cooled before adding to the batter.