Pandan cassava cake

Pandan cassava cake cut into diamond shapes to serve.

I like to cut the cassava cake into diamonds to serve, however that shape doesn’t make for easy storage in containers.

Cake might not be the right word to described this baked sweet treat. It’s really more of a kuih. Guilty of often writing about food that take hours to prepare, you’ll be glad to know this isn’t one of them!

Pandan could be considered the vanilla of South-East Asia and pandan flavouring can usually be found at Asian supermarkets. Made from screwpine, you may be lucky enough to be able to source the fresh leaves. In the interests of an accessible recipe, for this cake I used the readily available flavouring paste. Cassava itself has a very mild taste so it’s the coconut milk and pandan flavouring that is the basis of this cake’s flavour. If you can’t find pandan paste, then use a tablespoon of vanilla paste or the seeds of a whole vanilla bean to perfume the cake instead.

Stirring the swirl of vivid green pandan flavouring into the cassava batter

Stirring the swirl of vivid green pandan flavouring into the cassava batter

A pale peppermint green, the cake ends up shades darker after baking.

A pale peppermint green, the cake ends up shades darker after baking.

Fresh or frozen cassava can be used for this recipe. I’ve used both and the frozen product actually holds up quite well. I have sensitive skin and find grating fresh cassava with my bare hands mildly irritates my skin so use gloves if you have any concerns. Fresh cassava would always be my first preference. Hot tip if you live in Sydney is that freshly grated cassava is sold at a stall at Flemington Markets. The stall has a huge tub of the stuff, so customers can just request the weight required. You might be able to get freshly grated cassava from other locations in Sydney, too.

Pulled together with just a few ingredients, cassava cake is best eaten slightly warm or at room temperature. Vegan or have run out of eggs? Omit them. I made this cake for a decade without eggs. Then a couple of years ago, I had cassava cake that my mum baked and noticed a particularly smooth texture. A spirited argument with my mother then ensued about the inclusion of eggs. From my perspective, it provides a silkier batter but isn’t essential.

A highly forgiving baked sweet, make amendments to your own taste. This version is only mildly sweet so those with a raging sweet tooth should increase the sugar by 50-100 grams. Like the eggs, added salt is optional but a particularly good addition if you increase the sweetness level for that moreish sweet-yet-salty pull.

Refrigerating the cassava cake does affect the texture, so I recommend reheating the cake or at least letting it come to room temperature again.

Cassava cake out of the oven. Now a darker green, with golden brown edges.

It’s darker than I like on top. I turned on the oven grill briefly, hence the brown spots. Follow the recipe below and it should be green on top with golden brown caramelisation only at the edges.

Feeds: Twenty people as a snack – twelve greedy people for a hefty chunk
Start cooking: 2 hours before serving (allowing for hand grating of fresh cassava)

Pandan cassava cake

Ingredients

  • Cassava – 1 kg after peeling and finely grating (or defrosted frozen product)
  • 400ml x coconut milk
  • 300g x caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon x pandan flavouring (can add up to a scant teaspoon of paste)
  • 1 x large egg, lightly beaten – optional
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon x salt – optional
  • Vegetable oil – to grease the baking dish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C / 370 F.
  2. Lightly oil a baking dish.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring until smooth. Pour into prepared dish.
  4. Bake for 60-70 minutes until edges are golden brown. Stand for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
How green the cake is and therefore how strongly it tastes of pandan, is up to you. I could probably have put a few drops more pandan extract for this batch.

How green the cake is and therefore how strongly it tastes of pandan, is up to you. I could probably have put a few drops more pandan extract for this batch.

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