Apparently, this is Cassava week!
My husband’s ex-wife is Vietnamese, and her mother, whom we all call Ma, is an amazing cook. This is the closest I have come to her coconut cassava cake. Cassava cake is completely gluten- and grain-free, moist and chewy like mochi, and extremely rich. Try not to get too wrapped around the axle about the canned milk products… I haven’t figured out how to replace those ingredients and get a similar result yet, but when I do, I will let you know!
The cake tastes a million times better made from freshly-prepared cassava. Fresh yuca/cassava can be easily found in grocery stores in Florida, in other places you may have to go to an ethnic grocery store. If you’re lucky, you can go dig some out of your garden.
Wash the roots and cut into 3-4″ chunks. If there are kinks in the root, cut through those kinks.
Cassava roots have two layers that have to be removed: the root bark and the inner cambium. Choose one chunk of root. Make a single deep cut along the length of the chunk. Look at one cut end- the two layers are easy to see. Carefully slip the tip of a sharp paring knife under the inner cambium and pull up.
Once you get the hang of it, you can pull the entire skin off in one piece.
The inner root is pure white. Rinse it well under cold water. Shred them in a food processor, and then put the shredded cassava on the base and puree the shredded cassava until it’s a grainy puree. Do not add any water! Place the ground cassava in a colander over the sink and let some of the starchy water drain away.
Now the cassava is ready to make a cake.
Gluten-Free Sweet Coconut Cassava Cake
1 lb fresh cassava, peeled and pureed
1 1/2 c coconut milk
1/2 c organic sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c unrefined “blonde” sugar (if the sugar is coarse, grind it in a food processor or coffee grinder until fine)
1/4 c tapioca starch (tapioca starch comes from cassava)
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp salt
Heat oven to 375. Grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter or oil. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a sturdy spoon until there are no lumps of cassava left and the mixture is lighter-colored. Pour the mixture into the pan and gently “drop” or tap the pan on the countertop to get rid of any bubbles. Put the pan in the oven on the bottom shelf for 20 minutes, then move to the middle shelf for another 25-35 minutes until the edges are golden and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before slicing, preferably overnight.
I made two of these in a row, once lining the pan with parchment paper, and once with no parchment paper. The cake without the parchment paper browned better on the bottom and had a much better texture.