Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cassava Butter Cake

Cassava – or "yuca" as most commonly known here in Miami – is a shrubby plant that grows in tropical countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. It’s most edible parts are the roots (or tuber) and the leaves.

I have good memories playing in the nearby cassava fields with friends when I was young. We used to take some leaves and use its stems to braid each others hair. This plant also has medicinal qualities, or so I believed when I was young. When we get cuts or scrapes from playing, we used take a leaf from the cassava plant and apply the sticky liquid that oozes out from the stem to our wounds.. boy, did it sting!

But I have learned since that cassava is more than just for braiding hairs and healing cuts and scrapes. I’ve also discovered its edible roots and the wonderful, starchy quality it yields when boiled. It is also the source of tapioca which happens to be one of my favorites as well. Here in Miami, I’ve learned that the boiled cassava (or yuca) is also good when sautéed with garlic and onion and eaten with black beans, rice and shredded beef. But my most favorite still remains to be the cassava cake.

Cassava cake is a classic Filipino dessert. I was invited to come to the birthday party of one of my Filipina girlfriends, so I thought of making it. But being here in the US, freshly grated cassava is hard to come by. I can grate them myself but that is such a lot of work! And yes, I can get frozen grated cassava from the Asian store, but I was too lazy to get up and drive for about 30 minutes to get to the store. So, I settled with what I have on hand - cassava flour. An easy cop-out, wouldn't you say?

I have not tried using cassava flour to replace the grated cassava before, but...… it’s time to experiment!!! I just love the suspense.....

Cassava Butter Cake
2 c cassava flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c evap milk
1/2 c coconut milk
1 c young coconut (macapuno)
2 pcs egg (yolk and white beaten separately)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

3 Egg Yokes
1/3 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
2/3 Cup Coconut Milk

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Sift together the measured baking powder and cassava flour.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and mix well.
4. Alternately add egg yolk, dry ingredients and milk. Mix thoroughly in one direction until well blended.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg white until stiff peak forms.
6. Fold in the mixture to the beaten egg white.
7. Pour the mixture in an ungreased baking pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until top is no longer wet.
8. In the meantime, mix well all ingredients for topping. When top of cake is no longer wet, spread topping evenly on cake.
9. Bake an additional 20-30 minutes.
10. Allow to cool before serving.

The result??? It isn’t half as bad as I expected it to be. The cake doesn’t have the usual texture that a grated cassava would give, but it is still sticky. Actually, I liked it, and infact, I will make it again using more coconut milk and less of the evaporated milk next time.


jj said...

Sounds intriguing...thanks. I love reading about things eaten in different cultures.

Jescel said...

thanks, JJ. Me too, I'm interested in the cuisine of other cultures..

Anonymous said...

Hi this is a good recipe. I had made it once before and it turned out yum. I have made another one tonight because my fam loved it so much and my little girl wanted to do some baking. I have tweaked the topping a little by adding one cup of coconut milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and one tablespoon of plain flour. Then I cooked it in a pan till it gets pasty before speading it on the top. yum yum!