Ixta Belfrage’s vegan recipe for cassava, coconut and passion fruit cake | baking

My Brazilian mother always asks for this cake for her birthday – she loves the combination of cassava (or macaxeira, as we know it), coconut and passion fruit. I love its unique texture; it’s caramelised and crisp on the outside and chewy and springy inside, a bit like mochi. It’s not overly sweet, either, which makes it the ideal mid-morning or afternoon treat with a cup of coffee.

Cassava, coconut and passion fruit cake

The only time-consuming part of this recipe is peeling, grating and squeezing the cassava, after which all the ingredients come together very simply in a bowl. Alternatively, buy frozen grated cassava (available online and from many Asian supermarkets) to make the prep quicker.

Prep 15 mins
cooking 1 hour
Rest 30 mins
serves 6

950g cassava roots (or 500g frozen grated cassava, defrosted)
8 passion fruit
100g plant butter,
plus extra for greasing
100g caster sugarplus 2½ tbsp extra
140g tinned coconut milk (at least 70% coconut extract)
100g condensed coconut milk
50g desiccated coconut

3 tbsp aquafaba (the liquid from a can of unsalted chickpeas or white beans)
2 tsp tangerine zest (from 2 tangerines), or orange zest
1½ tsp lime zest (from 2 limes)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
⅛ tsp fine salt
Flaked salt
to serve

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Peel the cassava roots, removing the thick, brown skin as well as the pinkish layer beneath it, and don’t use any part of the cassava that’s black or soft. Finely grate the cassava on the smaller holes of a box grater (you should get 600g), then transfer the flesh to a colander and put it in the sink. Squeeze the cassava vigorously, to get ridof as much liquid as possible (you should end up with 500g), then transfer to a large bowl.

Halve the passion fruits and scoop the flesh and seeds into a sieve set over the bowl of cassava. Push down on it with the back of a spoon to extract all the juice, then discard the seeds and pulp.

Thoroughly grease a 20cm nonstick cake tin without a removable base with plenty of butter, making sure the inside is completely covered. Scatter one and a half tablespoons of sugar into the tin, and shake to ensure it covers the greased sides and base. (If your tin isn’t nonstick, line the base first with a circle of nonstick parchment paper, then continue with the butter and sugar.)

Melt 100g butter over a low heat until warm and liquid. Add this, 100g sugar, the coconut milk, condensed coconut milk, desiccated coconut, aquafaba, tangerine zest, lime zest, vanilla and an eighth of a teaspoon of fine salt to the cassava bowl, then mix thoroughly.

Spoon the cassava mixture into the greased and sugared tin, level out the surface, then evenly sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the top. Bake for 55 minutes, turning the tin once halfway, until the top is crisp and golden brown. Leave to cool for five minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the tin.

Put a rack over the tin, then flip the cake out on to it. The cake should end up on the rack, but, if not, gently release it from the bottom of the tin with a palette knife or spatula. Leave to cool and set for at least 30 minutes (this is very important!), then sprinkle with flaked salt and enjoy with coffee.

Ixta Belfrage’s debut solo cookbook, Mezcla: Recipes to Excite, is published by Ebury in summer 2022.

Leave a Comment