Mary-Frances Heck knows what the, uh, heck she's doing in the kitchen, and some pretty big-deal publications agree. The much-loved chef, editor, and writer has created recipes for Bon Appetit, Saveur, Cooking Light, Lucky Peach, and plenty of your other favorite food magazines, and for her newest solo effort, she's focused on just one ingredient: the humble sweet potato. Heck's new book, Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made Into Pies celebrates all the delicious possibilities of this versatile superfood. We've grabbed the recipe for her easy-bake cinnamon-spiced, orange-glazed cake doughnuts that'll make any morning just sweet as can be.

Sweet Potato Cake Doughnuts

  • Yields: Makes 18 doughnuts

These crunchy cake doughnuts come together in a snap and are so delicious. Roast a couple of extra sweet potatoes the night before you want to make the doughnuts, and the dough will come together quicker than a bowl of cereal.

For the doughnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray three 6-count doughnut pans with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sweet potato puree, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or plastic zip-top bag, snip ½ inch from the pointed end or bottom corner of the bag, and pipe the batter into the pan.

  3. Bake until golden, puffed, and a toothpick inserted into a doughnut comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the doughnuts to a rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle with orange glaze. Serve warm.

For the sweet potato puree

This puree is part of a well-stocked freezer, as it can be adapted endlessly in many recipes or eaten as a quick, nukeable side dish. By cooking the sweet potatoes without salt, you end up with a versatile base ingredient that can be dressed simply with butter and salt, or added to many baked goods and sweets. 


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Put the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and add cool water to cover by 1 inch. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are fully tender about 15 minutes. Drain the sweet potatoes, reserving the cooking liquid. 

  2. For a perfectly smooth puree, first pass the sweet potatoes through a food mill or press them through a potato ricer, discarding any pulpy, stringy flesh that remains. Give the milled sweet potatoes a good stir with a spoon, and add a tablespoon or two of cooking liquid if the puree seems dry or tacky. For a coarser puree, simply mash the sweet potatoes with the back of a fork or a potato masher. They will collapse into a relatively smooth mass that should not require additional liquid to remain moist. To store, let the puree cool and then refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To freeze, place cupfuls of puree in sandwich-size plastic zip-top bags, flatten the bags as you seal them, and stack them in the freezer. 

  3. TIP: While boiling sweet potatoes for puree provides the most consistent texture and flavor, you can cook them in the microwave for use in baked goods. Prick the skin with a fork and microwave in 4-minute intervals, flipping the sweet potatoes between intervals. The total cook time will depend on the size and moisture content of the sweet potatoes, usually 8 to 12 minutes.

For the orange glaze


  1. Make the glaze: Put the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, add the orange juice, and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and the glaze is smooth and pourable.

Reprinted from Sweet Potatoes. Copyright © 2017 by Mary-Frances Heck. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Kristin Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.