Guest Author - Magdalene Dawn Cramer
A traditional Creole and West Indian favorite in Trinidad and Tobago, this cake is made with freshly grated cassava and coconut. The subtle yet rich tastes of these provisions give the cassava pone its unique taste. You can make it wherever you are since the ingredients are simple and available at most major grocery stores. Cassava can be bought pre-peeled in the frozen goods section for those with less time. Here is the recipe:
2 cups Cassava grated
1 cup freshly grated coconut, non-sweetened
1 or ½ cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
½ cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Then spoon into an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one half hour. Pone should be brown and firm to the touch. Cut into squares and serve hot.
Ah, delicious pie….the first time I tried it was in Tobago at a grocery near Storehouse Bay beach. Upon seeing the brownish crust next to a batch of flashy white pastries, I asked “What is this one?” The reply from a store helper was, “That is Cassava Pone.” I was expecting an over sweet dessert, but was pleasantly surprised to find just a hint of sugar and a pudding-like texture.
History of Cassava
The cassava plant was brought to the Caribbean islands from Latin America. Dark and rough on the outside, cassava has a resilience that got it through long drought periods and attacks from pests. Farmers and other hardworking islanders appreciate the cassava’s bountiful crop yields to this day. The Creole people have many uses for it, but some inventive lady must have crafted this tasty pone awhile back, since my fiancée had it 30 years ago as a child in Trinidad.
Variations on Cassava Pone
This pudding-like pone is quite versatile, as a cup of grated pumpkin can be thrown in for added flavor, or a substitute of ground clove spice for cinnamon even. Experiment by adding orange rind, raisins, even nuts! Feel free to add less rather than more sugar also. One of the reasons the cassava is so great is because its subtle flavor can be enriched in many ways! It’s also not overpriced, and you won’t find a richer history than cassava. That’s why you’ve got to try it mon!