Have you ever eaten Cassava?If you haven’t, here’s some information for you:
Cassava is a long starchy root, native to Brazil and the tropical areas of the Americas. The root has a brown fibrous skin with a white fleshy interior. It is a staple for so many native peoples that there are lots of other names forit, like yuca, manioc, mandioca, aipim and macaxeira. It is the third largest source of carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and corn, and one of the main staple foods in the developing world.
Cassava is available in abundance everywhere in Brazil, and is incredibly versatile. It can be boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, fried, mashed or added to stews. In Brazil we can find all sorts of ways to prepare cassava. It can be used fresh or transformed into different types of flour and products(as tapioca pearls, tucupi sauce, tapioca starch) to be used in other recipes(like cheese bread, tapioca crepes, farofa, etc).
Among recipes made with fresh cassava, there is a delicious cake, a very common dish in several regions of Brazil. One of the best cassava cakes I’ve ever tasted was made by an amazing lady called Genilda. It took me time to learn her recipe, but after some tests, I finally nailed it.
To make this cake, you will need fresh cassava, which is easy to find in London. Sometimes it can be found at regular supermarkets. But the easiest way to buy them fresh is at street and farmers markets like North End Road Market(Fulham) and Ridley Road Market(Dalston). To select and buy the best ones, take a good look at the root ends, which should be firm and have no blemishes, soft spots or dark lines. Cassava should have a clean fresh scent and white centre when cut open. Rotten or decaying roots have dark lines and spots and an acidic smell. Buy 3 medium cassavas, because sometimes they look good on the outside, but aren’t good in the inside. For the cake, you will also need fresh coconut to grate at home.
When you get home, wash them well. Peeling the cassava is a little bit tricky, but it will be worth it, believe me! I will explain in the recipe below. While the cake is baking, prepare yourself a cup of coffee or tea and relax. After a few minutes, you will have an amazing“baked-cake” scent spreading through the air.
Check out the recipe:
A gluten free cake, made with fresh cassava instead of flour. It is moist and flavourful, with a crunch crust.
Start peeling the cassava. Use a sharp knife and a board to do the job. Begin by cutting off the top and bottom ends. Then cut the root into 2 or 3 pieces. Stand each piece on its side and, using the knife, slice the skin off from top to bottom. Next, slice each peeled piece in half lengthwise, and remove the woody core. And now you can use it for your cake.
With a food processor, grate the cassava and place it in a bowl. With your hands, squeeze the cassava to remove the excess liquid and set aside.
Grate the fresh coconut and the cheese like you grated the cassava. Tip: If you want a moist and dense cake, the ingredients should be grated in a small hole grater. If you want a cake with a fluffier and chunkier texture, use a large hole grater.
Grease a large baking tray. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. To mix the ingredients, you can use a bowl and a wooden spoon or a stand mixer. First, add the eggs with sugar. Mix well until you get a light cream. Add the butter and mix until smooth.
Add the coconut milk and grated cassava. Mix quickly. Then add grated coconut and cheese and mix again. Finally, add the baking powder, one pinch of ground cloves and cinnamon and mix well.
Pour the mixture in the baking tray and pop it in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Do the toothpick test to see if it is well-baked.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool before serving. This cake tastes best when it is still warm. With a cup of coffee or tea, it’s a delight! Try it!