As soon as I start cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I dream of those leftovers.

Not the turkey, mashed potatoes or stuffing, but my dad's candied sweet potatoes. He didn't use a recipe — he just baked, peeled and sliced the fat, golden New Jersey sweets, slathered them with plenty of butter and maple syrup, and baked them until they were crackly brown.

Every year, making that dessert-worthy side dish conjures up memories of my dad in the kitchen. And, like him, I always end up with more than anyone can eat. This leaves me with plenty to whir into a sweet potato purée. Lush and creamy, it adds flavor, color and texture to muffins, cookies and pancakes; just replace one-half of the amount of oil or butter in a favorite recipe. (Note that puréed squash and pumpkin work equally well.)

One of my go-to uses for these leftovers is a golden, dense breakfast cake with a bright orange sweet-potato swirl and pops of bright cranberries. It keeps beautifully, and it tastes better a day or two after it's baked as the flavors evolve. I like to toast leftover slices and spread them with cranberry jam or top them with vanilla whipped cream. It also freezes well.

Inspired by an old-fashioned recipe of my grandmother's, this cake tastes pure and buttery because it does not call for chemical leavenings such as baking powder or baking soda. Instead, it relies on the power of well-creamed butter, sugar and eggs to raise the crumb and gets a bit of tang from yogurt, which also adds to the velvety interior. When baked in a Bundt pan, this simple, not-too-sweet cake is pretty enough for brunch and great with a casual cup of coffee or tea, at any time of day.

Cranberry Breakfast Cake With Sweet Potato Swirl

Makes 1 (6-inch) Bundt cake, serving 8.

Note: This rich golden cake tastes even better the next day after the flavors have mellowed. You may substitute puréed squash or pumpkin for the sweet potatoes. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 1/2 c. flour

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened

• 1 1/2 c. sugar

• 4 eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2/3 c. plain yogurt

• 1/2 c. sweet potato purée (see below)

• 1/2 c. chopped cranberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare Bundt pan by lightly greasing it with oil or butter or baking spray and dusting with flour.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs. Stir in the vanilla and yogurt, then add the flour mixture and stir to make a smooth batter. Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and place it into a small bowl; stir in the sweet potato purée.

Fold the chopped cranberries into the golden batter, then transfer half of this batter into the prepared pan. Put dollops of the sweet-potato batter over the golden batter, then spoon the remaining golden batter over all. Using a knife, cut through the batter to make swirls. Tap the cake on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake the cake until it is golden and firm, about 35 to 40 minutes. It's done when a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then invert onto a plate and serve.

To make candied sweet potatoes: In a preheated 350-degree oven, bake whole sweet potatoes until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. Peel and slice into a baking dish and slather on equal amounts of butter and maple syrup to generously cover the sweet potatoes. Return to the oven and bake until sticky and glazed, about 20 minutes.

To make the purée: Place leftover sweet potatoes into a food processor and pulse until the texture is smooth.

Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at