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Ashley Christensen's sweet potato hummingbird cake is a Poole's Diner must-try.

Follow chef Ashley Christensen’s journey from 18-year-old cook to owner at Raleigh’s renowned Poole’s Diner. Her eponymous cookbook pays homage to her simple, hearty, Southern-focused New American cuisine, and if you’ve ever had her sweet potato hummingbird cake, you’ll want the recipe for yourself. Whip up all the favorite dishes Poole’s chalkboard has ever sported right at home, and put that restaurant on your bucket list.

There’s a debate that rages in all corners of the dessert-eating universe: cake or pie? It’s of particular importance in the South, where both tall-as-the-sky layer cakes and blue-ribbon pies are matters of pride and heritage. Though Poole’s has pie in its blood, we could never get away with omitting cake from the lineup.

This occasion-worthy cake is based on a classic hummingbird cake. First published in Southern Living magazine in 1978, the original version, created by Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina, the city where I was born, had banana and pineapple in its batter. It has since become one of the most requested recipes in the magazine’s history.

Our version adds sweet potatoes to the mix and substitutes green peanuts for the traditional pecans. Green, or “raw,” peanuts aren’t roasted like the peanuts at a baseball game, and they have a tender, almost bean-like texture. They’re worth seeking out (they come into season in the late summer and fall), but if you can’t find them near you, feel free to use roasted peanuts or another nut of your choice. We roast the bananas before adding them to the cake batter for two reasons: It concentrates the flavors of the banana and it yields a particularly smooth puree, which is better for the texture of the cake. Roasted banana puree will keep in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag for up to 6 months.

Reprinted with permission from Poole’s