Cassava cake is a phenomenal Filipino dessert made of grated cassava and coconut.
This dessert is iconic for its texture, which is dense and moist, yet slightly springy and chewy.
It’s like a cross between a cake and a pudding, and I’ll bet you’ll fall in love with it.
The jelly and pudding-like cake at the bottom and creamy custard on top create a satisfying sensation unlike any you’ve had.
So if you’re getting bored with your usual cakes, why not shake things up and give cassava cake a try?
What is Cassava?
Cassava is a starchy root vegetable also known as yuca, manioc, or tapioca root.
It’s rich in carbohydrates and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Naturally sweet and nutty, it is a popular ingredient in many Filipino desserts.
Among the most popular ones is the cassava cake, which is made with grated cassava, coconut milk, sugar, and eggs.
Cassava provides the cake with a subtle nuttiness and a wonderfully soft and chewy, mochi-like texture.
For the Cake Batter
Cassava – While not edible when raw, cassava turns into a tender delight with an almost gelatinous texture. Get pre-grated bags of cassava in your local Filipino or Asian store.
Condensed and Evaporated Milk – For sweetness, richness, and milkiness.
Coconut Milk & Cream – For a sweet and nutty coconut flavor. Coconut cream is thicker than coconut milk. You need both for a perfect balance.
Grated Coconut -For an extra coconut taste and textural variety.
Eggs + Egg Whites – For richness and also to bind the ingredients, helping the cake to set.
Sugar – For an added layer of sweetness.
For the Custard Topping
A combination of condensed milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream enriched with egg yolks makes up the top layer of the cake.
Use only the yolks for a thicker and creamier topping.
How to Make Cassava Cake
1. Prepare the cassava.
Ensure that your frozen cassava is fully thawed before use. Once thawed, wrap it in cheesecloth and wring out any excess liquid, as the presence of liquid can prevent your cake from setting.
2. Make the batter.
Whisk all the ingredients, condensed and evaporated milk, coconut cream and milk, grated cassava and coconut, sugar, and eggs.
3. Bake the cake.
Pour the batter into generously greased cake pans and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
4. Prepare the custard topping.
While the cake is in the oven, whisk together the condensed milk, coconut milk, coconut cream, and egg yolks.
5. Broil the cake.
Once the cake is ready, pour the custard on top.
Put the cake back in the oven, this time on the top rack, or whichever rack the heat source is closest to.
Broil the topping for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
6. Dig in!
Allow the cassava cake to cool completely, and then slice it into squares. Enjoy!
Tips for the Best Cassava Cake
- Don’t grate your own cassava. It’s way too tough and you might just end up injuring yourself. There are Asian/Filipino stores that offer bags of frozen grated cassava.
- Use large baking pans, otherwise, the cake mixture and/or topping will spill over. There needs to be enough room for both the cake (which will rise during baking) and the topping.
- Don’t overbake the cake, or it’ll turn out tough and rubbery. You know it’s done when its edges have browned slightly. It should be firm but still wobbly.
- Don’t over-broil the topping. It’s made with all kinds of dairy, so it’ll brown and burn fast. Keep a close eye out on the cake during this stage and take it out as soon as the topping gets bubbly and golden brown.
- You can also steam cassava cake instead of baking it. Use a smaller, round pan so it fits in the steamer. Cover it with foil and steam for 45 to 60 minutes, or until firm. Pour the topping mixture and steam for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Grease your baking pans well, and don’t line them with parchment paper. The cake will stick to it, making it hard to peel off.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. You’ll make cleaner cuts if you refrigerate the cake first for about 30 minutes.
- To store, cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week. Microwave the cake for about 20 seconds to soften it and make the topping all bubbly again.
While this recipe makes a perfectly delicious cassava cake, there are several ways you can put a spin on this classic Filipino dessert.
Thicker Topping – For me, the thicker the custard, the better. It’s sweet and creamy with a slightly crisp crust on top, which pairs wonderfully with the soft, gelatinous cake.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese – The sharpness of cheddar cheese balances out the sweetness of the cake. Add it to the cake batter and the topping for an extra cheesy delight.
Sweetened Macapuno Strings – Macapuno is a Filipino dessert made of firm yet tender coconut meat preserved in syrup. Adding macapuno to the cake gives it an extra layer of coconut flavor and a nice textural variety.
Pineapple Chunks – Adding chunks of pineapple to cassava cake batter gives it a refreshing tropical flavor.
Sweetened Jackfruit – Its sweet and tropical flavor pairs perfectly with the nutty taste of cassava. Its soft and chewy textures also add an interesting contrast to the soft and jiggly cake.
Glutinous Flour – Adding just a bit to the batter gives the cassava cake a slightly chewier, mochi-like texture.
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