CASSAVA & THE JAMAICAN TRADITIONS
Cassava has been rooted in Jamaican history since before the British. It was a major part of the Arawak diet. If you’ve been fortunate enough to traverse the banks of Middle Quarters – a bustling fishing district in cool and industrious St. Elizabeth, Jamaica – you probably would have had the pleasure of authentic Jamaican fried fish, peppered shrimp and bammy. If you haven’t and you’ve a penchant for the spic things in life you should stop by.
THE ORIGINAL CASSAVA CAKE
Now shrimp you’ve heard of and fish certainly but what is bammy? Bammy has been music to my palate since I was a toddler and I’m not alone in this; far from it. It’s a traditional Jamaican favorite and I pray the matriarch of our family won’t be displeased by my revealing these secrets to you. It’s sort of like a flatbread made entirely from cassava roots that have been cleaned and pounded by hand. Every Jamaican household has their own spin on the preparation of bammy. We generally like to pair it with traditional and usually spicy salting like ackee and saltfish, mackerel rundown, jerk pork or jerk chicken, and peppered shrimp.
I visited the oldest bammy factory in the hills of Montego Bay when I was a teenager and enjoyed the grand tour. You’d think the factories did it differently but creating this masterpiece is not a process to be rushed. Why? That can only be properly answered when you take your first bite into a piece after it’s been soaked in coconut milk and fried. That might take a while for you to access. Raw cassava roots are easier to get a hold of though so I’m sharing a much easier cassava recipe you can experiment with this Summer.
CASSAVA CAKE RECIPE
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
For Your Cake
3 lbs of grated cassava
3 cups of coconut milk
1 cup of raw agave nectar
1 cup of coconut cream
½ cup of coconut flour
2 ounces of coconut oil
4 eggs (you can save three of the yolks for the topping)
1 tbsp of molasses
½ tsp of nutmeg (finely grated)
Pinch of salt
For Your Topping
½ cup of coconut milk
½ cup of agave nectar
3 egg yolks
HOW TO PREPARE
You’ll want to preheat your oven at 350° Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 shallow 8-inch baking pans by greasing them and set them aside. Combine all your cake ingredients. You can either use an electric mixer or mix in a bowl until consistency is even throughout. Pour your mixture into your prepared pans and bake for 50 minutes.
While your cakes are baking, pour your topping ingredients into a blender and blend well. When your cakes are firm in the center (after about 50 minutes in the oven), remove them from the oven and pour your topping over them. Turn the oven off. Put your cakes back in the oven and leave them there for about 8 minutes until the sweet topping has set. Now you can remove and enjoy!
After your cake is cool, you can cut it into squares, triangles or whatever shape you like. You can serve as is or with cheese, avocado, ice-cream, or fruit. Some fruit and herbs like cherries, grapes, mint leaves or shredded coconut make wonderfully complimentary garnish for your cassava cake.
Avoid pairing your cassava cake with tangy flavors like pineapple, lemon and kiwi. They don’t seem to be very enjoyable together. You can also drizzle with caramel, molasses or condensed milk to your liking. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and don’t hesitate to share! Enjoy! Have fun and a great Summer!