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Sunday, March 1, 2009
At our annual Chinese New Year's dinner, my aunt’s Malaysian Chinese friend made this delicious tapioca cake as known as kuih ubi kaiyu. Judging from the empty platter at the end of the night, her cake was wildly popular.
I inhaled several squares of this soft pillowy cake and realized what all the fuss was about. The cake isn’t airy and light like a sponge cake, it is dense and compact. Its light and delicate flavour (moistened by the addition of coconut milk and eggs) makes this cake perfect for an afternoon tea. It possesses the faint grainy texture of a cornmeal or semolina cake but also the smooth, creaminess of a tapioca pudding. If you leave it in the oven to bake a little longer, it develops a golden caramelly crust and a smoother, chewy texture reminiscent of Japanese mochi desserts (rice flour based desserts.) Personally, I prefer the wobbly but grainy texture but the choice is yours. I reduced the sugar from the original recipe (1 package of cassava, 1 c sugar, 1 c coconut milk, 1 egg and 1 pinch of salt) and added an additional egg to heighten the flavour of the eggy custard.
I wished I had discovered this cake sooner. It literally takes 2 minutes to put together (literally seconds) and is, without hyperbole, the simplest cake I have ever made (even with non-baker’s hands like mine.)
1 lb finely grated tapioca (cassava*), defrosted from frozen
1 c low-fat coconut milk
¾ c granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
Plus butter for the pan and parchment paper
*grated cassava/tapioca may be found in the freezer section of Asian grocery stores
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a square baking dish with parchment paper and butter baking dish and parchment paper.
2. Mix tapioca with 2 eggs, coconut milk, sugar and salt together.
3. Pour mixture into prepared dish and bake for approximately 30 minutes until the sides start to brown and the center is no longer wobbly.
4. Cool slightly and cut into squares and serve.
Best if eaten the day it is made.