We know we probably should have made barbecue for UNC. But it’s cold in the Northeast, and there’s still snow in our backyard, so the idea of breaking out our smoker was not entirely appealing. Lucky for us, the absence of vinegar-based BBQ on our bracket meant that we got a chance to make this delicious, potato(!)-based confection.
Moravian sugar cake has apparently been around for about 300 years—since the Moravians emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the United States, and particularly to North Carolina, in the eighteenth century. This cake reminded us a little of Election Cake: simple ingredients and not too sweet.
Moravian Sugar Cake
1 russet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup + 2 tbsps. warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsps. salt
2.5 cups flour (possibly more)
4 tbsps. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
2 tsps. cinnamon
1. Place potato in saucepan. Cover with water, and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are very soft.
2. While potatoes are cooking, proof yeast in warm water. Place yeast in warm water and stir lightly. Wait about 5 minutes, or until water is foamy.
3. Drain the potatoes well, place in a large bowl and mash potatoes together with 2 tbsps. warm water.
4. Mix the yeast into the mashed potatoes, and then add the sugar, melted butter, egg and salt.
5. Mix in 2.5 cups of flour and stir well.
6. Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed for about 8 minutes, until dough is elastic and smooth. Add up to 1/2 cup of flour more while needing if dough is too sticky (we added an extra 1/4 cup or so, so the dough didn’t stick to our counter).
7. Place the kneeded dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, until mixture has doubled in size.
8. Remove dough from bowl and punch down. Press dough into a well-buttered 13 x 9-inch pan, and let it rise, covered by a dish towel, for about half an hour, or until dough looks puffy.
9. Max indentations over the top of the cake with your finger, and place small pieces of butter in each indentation.10. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon, and scatter mixture over the top of the cake.11. Bake cake for 20-25 minutes in 400-degree over. Allow the cake to cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting.