My mom and I spent the past couple days together, and unsurprisingly, half of that time we were in the kitchen. For a very long time I had heard great things about a yucca bread / cake that many people in Peru make, but that I didn’t recall ever trying. In our first trip to the supermarket on Monday morning, I saw a big yucca staring right at me, so I immediately thought of this mystery cake, and asked my mom to teach me how to make it.
Amelia, our cook, was the first person to ever talk to me about it. She said her daughter, Eliana, made an amazing yucca cake that was so cheap and so good, that she used to sell it to her neighbors. When I mentioned this to my mom, saying we should ask Amelia’s daughter for her recipe, she was slightly offended. Where do you think Eliana had learned to make it? From my mom, of course, who is her godmother, and who has taught her many cooking secrets.
So on Monday I finally got the chance to make it and try it. The yucca we found here didn’t help. It was so dry and hard! Yuccas in Peru are usually fresh, and much easier to handle. Grating it was a bit of torture, so I gracefully let my mom do it (mother’s always want to keep their children from suffering!). Then she taught me how to drain all the water from the grated yucca, -which is a lot-, because apparently, if some water is left, the texture of the cake is completely ruined. We used a new nylon sock that I had never used to do this, but any fabric that helps drain the water will do. The yucca is ready when there’s no more water coming out from it when you press it.
The rest of the preparation was a piece of cake (pun not intended). We made just a fraction of the recipe, so we used small ramekins to make mini-cakes instead of making a large one like it is usually done, and decided to decorate them with mango sorbet, blackcurrant jam, and some mint leaves. I didn’t know what to expect, and when it came out of the oven and I had the first bite, I had to go through all the steps in my head again, to make sure we hadn’t used flour as one of the ingredients. The texture was just so perfect! Fluffy, moist…it was really strange to eat it, knowing it didn’t have any flour whatsoever. Yucca is a huge discovery for me as a texture-and-taste-giving ingredient. If you haven’t tried it, and especially if you’re on a gluten-free diet, you have to! You will never look back.
- 10 oz. yucca
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup unsweetened evaporated milk
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- To serve:
- Mango sorbet
- Blackcurrant marmalade
- Mint leaves
- Preheat the oven at 350F.
- Peel and grate the yucca, with the finest side of your grater. Put the yuca in a clean towel or kitchen cloth, and squeeze to get rid of all the liquid. Do this with enthusiasm and all your stamina, because a wet yuca will not render good results. You should have about 8 oz. of grated yuca.
- In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until very pale. Add eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl every now and then, to make sure all the ingredients are mixing well.
- Add yuca, milk, salt, baking powder, lemon and orange peel.
- Pour the dough in 4 small ramekins or soufflé dishes, or one mini loaf pan, buttered.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. The cakes should be lightly golden and have risen.
- Turn off the oven, take out the cakes and let cool in a rack.
- To unmold, run a knife around the borders, turn the cakes up-side down, and they will release easily.
- To serve: Put in a plate, add a scoop of mango sorbet on top (it could be another flavor of your choice), a mint sprig, and some blackcurrant marmalade. (optional)
- Serve at once.