AIP birthday cake (Kuih bingka ubi kayu)

I love cake.  Especially layered cakes with luxurious buttercream on them.  When I was a kid, I would lick the buttercream icing off and leave the cake untouched (I think I would give the cake slices to my mother…oh dear).  When I got older I learned to appreciate the cake layers and taught myself how to bake cakes in my 20s, perusing cookbook after cookbook, website after website.  From traditional baking with all-purpose flour and other wheat flours, to progressing to experimenting with gluten-free grain flours and then most recently to grain-free coconut flour, I was quite an avid cake baker.

Then along came AIP.  When I started on my AIP journey I knew full well that I would not be able to enjoy my favourite birthday cake (and that my birthday was barely 2 weeks after commencing).  But as my husband says, if we don’t start now then we would never start.  So it’s somewhat bittersweet that I am no longer able to eat the stuff that I used to make, even on my birthday.  Hey, I get to heal my leaky gut instead!  Think of the long term benefits!

Kuih bingka ubi

This recipe is not for a typical birthday cake with fluffy buttercream icing sandwiched between layers of spongy cake.  I decided to dig back to my roots and focus on the South East Asian equivalent (somewhat) of the western cake, or ‘kuih’.  Commonly eaten as a teatime snack or even as breakfast, kuihs are made of all sorts of ingredients but usually feature coconut.  One kuih that stood out to me with huge AIP-friendly potential was kuih bingka ubi kayu or baked cassava cake.  Cassava is a starchy root also known as yuca, tapioca, or manioc, depending on where you are.  This cake/kuih has a chewy texture  (the closest equivalent for texture would be sweet/sticky rice) and a distinctive taste of coconut.  There are many recipes available online, and I was inspired by this one at Baking Mum.

Grated cassava

With the AIP, eggs are out and that can be very tricky with baking.  I was experimenting with AIP-approved egg substitutes in baking and came across lotus root starch.  I love lotus root and was intrigued to see it sold in a starch format at the Asian grocery store.  My parents told me that it is a traditional Chinese remedy but they don’t use it themselves.  When mixed with water and heated, it thickens and gels up, similar to the texture of raw eggs.  I’m still experimenting with it, but in this recipe it makes a decent egg substitute.  If lotus root starch is unavailable, I guess arrowroot or tapioca flour could work, though I have not tried with those two flours.  Alternatively, I think it could work without the starch either.

Lotus root starch

This can be really quick and easy to make if you can find ready-grated cassava and prepared coconut milk.  I had to grate my cassava and make the coconut milk by hand, so it took the afternoon to have the cake made.

Making coconut milk

I used coconut nectar as a sweetener as I had bought it before starting on the AIP regime and wanted to experiment with it.  It’s quite thick and syrupy and does not taste of coconuts, but more like a faintly bitter caramel.  It’s not absolutely essential in the recipe and can be easily substituted with honey or maple syrup.

Coconut nectar

Kuih batter

Traditionally eaten as it is, I decided to decorate it simply with coconut butter icing and blackberries.  I don’t have a recipe for the icing, as I basically mixed coconut butter with maple syrup and vanilla extract until I was satisfied with it.  Most importantly I had a lovely day with my boys and husband!  My toddler son was more than delighted to blow out the candle.  Happy birthday!

AIP birthday cake

Ingredients (Serves 12)

  • 1kg grated tapioca/ cassava/ manioc (about 3 medium sized pieces weighing 1.4kg in total)
  • 1/2 cup honey (Possibility of making it vegan by subbing the honey with maple syrup, not tested though)
  • 1/2 cup coconut nectar (If unavailable, try substituting with honey or maple syrup)
  • 40g melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp lotus root starch dissolved in 4tbsp hot water
  • 350ml thick coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C
  • Oil and line a 8 inch circular pan
  • In a large bowl, mix everything together until well incorporated
  • Pour into the prepared pan, making sure that the grated cassava is well dispersed in the batter
  • Bake for 1h15 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean
  • Broil for 5 minutes if top is not sufficiently golden brown
  • Allow to cool, then unmold on a serving plate
  • Decorate or serve as is
  • Cake can be kept covered on the kitchen counter for a 1 – 2 days or stored in the fridge for several days
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