How Mashed Potatoes Can Elevate Your Chocolate Cake

If you are on the hunt for a way to improve your homemade chocolate cake, you might be surprised to find it in your crisper drawer — at least the raw form of the ingredient. Mashed potatoes might seem like they would be counterintuitive to making a light and fluffy cake, but many chefs, including Martha Stewart, swear by the technique.

According to Food 52, mashed potatoes add extra moisture and structure to baked goods and extra fiber and nutrients, which can make the cakes a little more diet-friendly, as well. The Kitchn also explains that potatoes are a good dairy-free option for adding moisture to cakes as opposed to other common supplements like buttermilk or sour cream, while Pink Haired Pastry Chef notes they add body to gluten-free cakes.

The reason potatoes work so well to give cakes a good consistency and moisture is because they are almost completely made of starch and water. According to Food Crumbles, 80% of a potato's weight is water, while nearly all the rest is starch. Potato starch itself can be separated from the potato and used as a baking ingredient in cakes and cookies. Adding a whole, mashed potato is sort of cutting out the middleman and injecting all the thickening, binding starch into the recipe along with an extra infusion of moisture.

Potatoes make for a moist cake

So, what's the best way to incorporate a potato into your cake? You need to finely mash it, which The Kitchn does note will unfortunately add a little extra prep time to your bake. After you peel and chop your large potato, which is all that most recipes call for, you need to boil and mash it. Pink Haired Pastry Chef and The Kitchn recommend using a potato ricer or a sieve to get rid of any and all lumps so your cake will have smooth consistency. It is also important to note that you should not add anything to your potato that you would normally mix in when prepping spuds as a side for your family dinner. No salt, butter, milk, or margarine are necessary, simply soften and smoosh the potato.

Most recipes call for about three quarters of a cup of potato to be added to the cake along with the wet ingredients, including butter and eggs. From that point, the cake is baked like any other, following the specific recipe instructions. Food 52 says the result should be a moist, chocolatey cake with a fluffy texture and a crackly outer crust ready to be iced in whatever topping you like best, whether that be a chocolate ganache or a rich buttercream icing.