Sweet potato cake with coconut-pecan cream-cheese frosting

SWEET POTATO CAKE WITH COCONUT-PECAN CREAM-CHEESE FROSTING

Cake:
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 can (16 ounces) sweet potatoes in heavy syrup
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain spice-cake mix
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

To make cake: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour, shaking out excess.

Mash the sweet potatoes with syrup in a large mixing bowl using a fork or potato masher. Add the cake mix, eggs, oil and cinnamon. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look well-combined and thickened. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your fingers and just start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 28 to 31 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Cool to room temperature.

To make frosting: Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the confectioners’ sugar, a bit at a time, blending with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well-incorporated, 1 minute. Add the vanilla, then increase the mixer speed to medium and blend the frosting until fluffy, 1 minute more. Fold in the coconut and the pecans.

Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with clean, smooth strokes.

Place this cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Cover the cake with waxed paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.