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One French word: patate douce, a French recipe: cake à la patate douce

Patate douce, feminine noun (une patate douce, la patate douce, des patates douces) = sweet potato (pronounced pa (as in pat)-tat (as in rat) dooss: pa-tat-douss), some stress on the douss.

Patate is a colloquial word for potato (more usually pomme de terre, literally apple of the earth) equivalent to spud in UK English.

The sweet potato keeps well, is easy to cook, has beautiful colour, and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and B9 and E. I bake sweet potatoes as I would an ordinary potato, I have made them into ice cream, or purée (mash). Today’s recipe is for cake à la patate douce. Cake (pronouced kek) in French is used for something baked and rectangular in shape; like a fruit cake, but it can also be savoury, and then it is used for picnics or for apéritif. This cake is sweet and is for tea-time.

Cake à la patate douce

For 6-8 people, you will need (don’t forget my conversion tables) :

  • 275 gr sweet potato
  • 3 eggs
  • 75 gr brown sugar
  • 90ml milk
  • 100gr melted butter
  • 235 gr flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder (not baking soda, baking powder, to make the flour rise)
  • 1 tsp allspice (quatre épices)
  • 1 tsp turmeric (curcuma)
  • a handful of raisins
  • 6 chopped stoned prunes (I use moist pruneaux d’Agen, the best prunes in France, that need no soaking. If yours are very dry, soak them in a bit of warm tea before using, but make sure there are no stones)



  1. Peel the sweet potato, cut into 2.5cm cubes and either steam or just cook the pieces in plain boiling water (put them in cold water, bring to the boil, and boil for 15 minutes).
  2. Drain and mash with a potato masher or a fork (not in a food processor).
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Butter a rectangular cake tin or line it with greaseproof paper. Actually I use silicone molds which need no preparation and are really easy to un-mold.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar.
  6. Add the butter and flour and beat well. Add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  7. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put it into the oven for 40mns. Test with a knife. Unmold onto a cake rack to cool so that steam does not make the cake go soft.

Une tranche de cake à la patate douce

This cake is a bit reminiscent of brown or wholemeal bread somehow. Simple. Wholesome. It is relatively un-spicey. If you prefer, you can increase the allspice, and add some or all of the following in powdered form : cinnamon, ginger, cardamome.

Bon appétit


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

7 responses »

  1. Sounds delic’! I personally have a hard time “liking” sweet potatoes as a side dish to almost everything here in the “deep South”… it is pureed, souffleed or baked. The only way I ever recall sweet potatoes being cooked growing up, was for my little sister’s baby puree. BUT, it does sound delicious in a cake with the pruneaux, spices and raisins! Will try!

  2. You’d never actually know that there was sweet potato in this cake. I mean, it doesn’t taste of sweet potato. But it does give a lovely colour, together with the spices.

  3. Another recipe to try. Thanks. This is an excellent blog

  4. I love sweet potatoes. Fun to read a different recipe for them!!!

    • Yes, generally they are treated so uniformly; try ice cream, really good. Sweet potato puree, pressed through a sieve so no strings or lumps, cream, sugar, spices of choice and a bit of alcohol (rum, campari), not too much or it won’t freeze!

  5. C’est vraiment un incroyable weblog. C’est très bon à lire pour moi, faut avouer que vous êtes l’un des meilleurs blogueurs que j’ai jamais vu .


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