Grated cassava is mixed with sugar, milk and coconut milk, and baked until lightly browned. Coconut custard is poured over the cake and back into the oven it goes until the custard is nicely browned. Cassava bibingka (cake) with coconut custard topping is a lovely introduction to Filipino desserts.
Cassava is a root crop. Even if you’re not familiar with the root crop itself, you would probably be familiar with by-products of cassava. Tapioca balls (sago) are made from cassava. Tapioca starch is the best thickener for Chinese-style stir fried dishes.
Bibingka is the local term for cake. The term is more commonly associated with rice since most native cakes are made from rice. In regions where rice cannot be grown and where crops like corn and cassava are substituted, it is not uncommon to find native cakes labeled as bibingka. The cassava bibingka is one example.
The first time I cooked cassava bibingka, I made the mistake of boiling the cassava before grating. The bibingka wasn’t bad, actually, except that it was more like a pudding than a cake. I didn’t make the same mistake twice.
The second time, on the last day of February, 2007, a vegetable hawker was passing by and calling out from the road in the early morning. We were out of vegetables so I went out and called out to him. But not only did he have fresh pechay (Chinese cabbage similar to bok choy), talong (eggplants), mustasa (mustard leaves) and kangkong (water/swamp spinach), he also had fresh cassava.
The cassava bibingka I made that day was a dream. But it was 2007, the photos I posted were small and there was no formatted recipe to go with the post. After 11 years, I have new photos. This time, Alex baked the cassava bibingka.
This recipe is based on Nena Zafra’s cassava bibingka from Nora Daza’s Galing-galing cookbook. Who Nena Zafra is, I don’t have the slightest idea. I have tweaked the recipe back in 2007 and Alex used the same formula for the cake that she baked last night. Well, except for one thing. The amount of custard was doubled to satisfy her father’s requirement that the custard should be as thick as the cake.
So, it starts with fresh cassava. You peel it and grate it. A box grater will do but let me tell you that cassava is one tough root crop and manual grating can be exhausting. That was how I did it back in 2007. Last night, Alex used the food processor. Half a kilo of cassava grated in under a minute.
The grated cassava is mixed with dairy milk and coconut milk, sugar, eggs, melted butter and salt. Yes, salt. You need balance to avoid that cloying effects that sweets sometimes impart.
When the cake batter is ready, pour into an oven-proof dish. There is no need to grease the baking dish because the cake batter already contains melted butter.
To make sure that the grated cassava is evenly distributed, stir the batter after it has been poured into the baking dish. You bake the cake until firm and lightly browned.
While the cake bakes, you prepare the custard on the stovetop.
When the cake is done, your pour the custard on top and bake it until the surface of the custard is nicely browned in places.
From the photo above, you can see just how thick the custard is. That’s the way Speedy likes it.
Cassava cake is a lovely sweet dish to serve at the end of a meal. It is also a wonderful snack to enjoy.
Cassava Bibingka (Cake) With Coconut Custard Topping
For the cake batter
- 1/2 kilo fresh cassava
- 1 large egg
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
- 3 tablespoons full-fat milk
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
For the coconut custard
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup full-fat milk
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 2 egg yolks lightly beaten
Make the cake
- Peel the cassava and finely grate. Any metal grater will do; a food processor cuts down the prep time tremendously.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs with the salt. Add the melted butter, sugar, evaporated milk, full-fat milk and coconut milk and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the grated cassava to the egg-milk mixture and stir thoroughly.
- Pour the cake batter into an oven-proof dish set on a baking tray. Stir to distribute the cassava evenly. (You may use any shape of dish but remember that you will be adding custard later, so, the cake batter should reach less than halfway up the baking dish.)
- Bake the cassava cake for 25 to 30 minutes or until film and the top is lightly browned.
Make the custard
- In a thick-bottomed pan, mix together all the ingredients for the custard except the egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Take half a cup of the thickened mixture, pour over the egg yolks and stir to temper the yolks.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Assemble the cake
- When the cassava cake is done, take it out of the oven and pour the custard on top.
- Switch the oven to broiler setting (top heat only) and bake the cake for another five minutes or so or until the surface of the custard is browned in spots. If your oven does not have a broiler setting, the usual setting will do but browning the top of the custard may take a little longer.
- Cool the cassava cake completely before cutting.