This cassava cake recipe from Yasmin Newman’s beautiful Filipino cookbook 7000 Islands many sound exotic but is easy to bake and tastes incredible, flavoured with coconut milk and finished with a coconut caramel topping.
At work, my mother was affectionately known as the ‘Cassava Queen’. She made cassava cake countless times over the years for colleagues who repeatedly requested the exotic dessert for office gatherings. Also known as cassava bibingka, this Filipino classic is characterised by a springy, elastic texture. It is also very easy to make. Stock up on pre-grated frozen cassava from Asian grocery stores, then thaw when you’re ready to begin.
900g grated cassava
440g caster sugar
190 ml evaporated milk
310 ml coconut milk
60 g unsalted butter, melted
COCONUT CARAMEL TOPPING
2 tablespoons plain flour
400 g condensed milk
80 ml coconut milk
2 egg yolks
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 22 cm ovenproof dish about 7 cm deep.
2. To make the cassava cake, place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 1 hour, or until firm in the centre.
3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
4. Meanwhile, to make the coconut caramel topping, place the flour and half of the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk and the remaining condensed milk, and cook over low heat for 10–15 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened to a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl, then stir into the condensed milk mixture until well combined.
5.Pour the topping over the cake and spread evenly. Use a kitchen blowtorch to cook the topping until slightly caramelised. Alternatively, cook under a hot preheated grill for 3–5 minutes; be careful as it will caramelise quickly. Set aside at room temperature until the topping is set and the cake is completely cool, then turn out the cake to serve.
What is it?
Cassava (also kamoteng kahoy) is the edible tuberous root from the cassava plant. The hardy, carbohydrate-rich crop is a major food staple across the developing world; in the Philippines, it is predominantly eaten as a sweet. Boiled cassava topped with grated coconut and sugar is the most common form; grated for cassava bibingka is the most loved. The starch extracted from cassava, known as tapioca, is used as a flour, or balls (pearls) found in sweet merienda items, such as ginataan.
What’s your favourite Filipino recipe?
Julia has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam, and New York, and is obsessed with food. She's either cooking or thinking about what to eat next. Follow Julia on Twitter.