Inspired by Amei Tea House in Jiufen, Taiwan, these sweet potato tea cakes are made with mashed sweet potatoes, rice flour, powdered sugar, salt and butter.
Are they exactly like the ones we had at Amei? You don’t really think they just handed me the recipe, did you? Besides, the ones we enjoyed at Amei were bean cakes. Matcha-flavored. These are sweet potato tea cakes.
They’re very easy to make. If you can boil, mash and mix, you’re almost there. You will need a special press to turn the sweet potato mixture into fancy shapes. They’re available online, quite cheap too, just Google and you’ll find them.
But why the different colors? Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors. Yellow is the most common though. The lilac colored tea cakes in the photos were made with a locally available variety of sweet potato. NOT purple yam (ube in the Philippines). Substituting purple yam will likely yield a different texture.
NO food color was added to these sweet potato tea cakes.
Sweet potatoes are rather sticky. The addition of toasted rice flour modifies the texture so that the mashed sweet potato mixture is easier to handle. Rice flour guarantees too that the mixture won’t stick inside the press.
But it isn’t just the texture that benefits from the addition of rice flour. Toasted rice flour gives the sweet potato tea cakes a subtle nutty aroma and flavor.
There is no tea in the cakes themselves. “Tea cake” is a term used for small cakes traditionally served with a pot of tea.
Sweet Potato Tea Cakes
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 4 to 6 tablespoons rice flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- powdered sugar to taste (optional)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter cooled
- Rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes well.
- Place the cleaned sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or until a knife inserted at the center goes through without resistance.
- Cool the sweet potatoes.
- While the sweet potatoes cool, toast the rice flour in an oil-free pan until lightly browned. Cool.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and mash. You will need two cups of mashed sweet potatoes.
- Add the salt and rice flour to the sweet potatoes (see notes at the end of the recipe). Mix lightly but thoroughly. Overmixing will make the mixture sticky and lumpy.
- Taste the sweet potato mixture. If you want to sweeten it some more, add sifted powdered sugar, no more than a tablespoon at a time.
- Form the sweet potato mixture into small balls.
- Press each ball into the mold then use the handle to release.
- Serve the sweet potato tea cakes with hot tea.