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Bake-Ahead Thanksgiving Dessert Sweet Potato Triple Layer Cake

Sweet potatoes predictably may be served as a side dish – or even in rolls – around the country this Thanksgiving. But try dressing them up for a show-stopping, not-even-close-to-resembling-pie dessert? Absolutely!

This cake is inspired by the carrot Bundt cake recipe my husband’s Southern Aunt Bea lovingly gifted to us in a box full of hand-written recipes when we were married. Shredded sweet potato replaces carrots and dates upstage somewhat-polarizing raisins. Autumn’s best spices, walnuts and sweet pineapple make each layer’s flavor and texture special.

Between each layer and crowning the top is an amazing coffee cream cheese frosting. Ever since my friend told me that her mom always adds a touch of brewed coffee to her homemade frostings, I’ve wanted to try it. And instead of screaming coffee flavor, it covertly manages to enhance the other frosting ingredients.  

Because there usually are several other menu items to prepare at Thanksgiving, make the cake layers anytime in November and freeze. Be sure to wrap each individually and place in a freezer bag. Simply pull these out to thaw before frosting, which can be done the day before serving. And this sweet treat will taste just as fresh at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend as it did on the holiday. That makes everyone happy!

Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups peeled, grated sweet potato (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup toasted, finely chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh or canned pineapple



  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons brewed Community® coffee, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ - 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and spray sides with vegetable cooking spray.



In large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Stir in or mix on low speed vegetable oil and eggs; completely combine. Add sweet potato, ¾ cup walnuts, dates and pineapple, stirring until combined. Evenly divide batter into pans. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of cake pans; turn over onto cooling rack. Remove parchment and cool completely.



In large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add coffee and vanilla; mix until smooth, scraping bowl often. Gradually add 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, adding extra coffee or powdered sugar to achieve spreading consistency; mix until completely combined.

Place first layer of cake on serving plate; evenly spread with 1/3 of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup walnuts to garnish.

Makes 1 large layer cake (at least 16 slices)



  • White whole wheat flour has all of the nutrition of whole wheat flour but with a less assertive flavor and texture. In this cake, it enhances the nutty, rich flavors and performs quite similarly to all-purpose flour.
  • To easily toast nuts, place in heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-4 minutes. Cool.
  • Toasting nuts develops an additional layer of flavor which won’t occur from baking since the nuts are mixed into the cake batter.
  • For evenly-sized layers, use a kitchen scale to equally portion batter into each pan.
  • Omit nuts if there’s an allergy concern or if they’re not a favorite. Consider adding coconut instead.
  • The frosting will not noticeably taste of coffee. Instead, the rich cream cheese and butter flavors are enhanced.
  • This semisweet cake dessert will pair well with Community® Café Special® coffee. This medium roasted coffee provides a light balance between the creamy, richness of the dessert and the subtle flavor of the coffee.


Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.