Yucca, also known as cassava, is a staple crop throughout Honduras that grows everywhere, even in the poorest soils. In the disadvantaged regions of Honduras yucca root is one of the staple crops. It grows anywhere, leached out soil, muddy river banks even in sand. The tuber or root grows up to 2 feet in length, thrives better in poor soils and is known to withstand drought very well. It’s a lifesaver to those living on land where nothing else will grow. Also, it doesn’t have to be germinated from seed; merely plant a stalk or branch from another bush and roots will start to grow.
The shrubby tropical plant grows tall, sometimes reaching 15 feet, with leaves varying in shape and size. From the edible tuberous root Garifuna make most of their meals, such as yucca cakes or ‘bam bam’. The staple is nutritionally comparable to potatoes, except that it has twice the fiber content and a higher level of potassium. Other known names are tapioca, manioc, yuca, balinghoy, mogo, mandioca, kamoteng kahoy, and manioc root.
Yucca cake is one of the traditional desserts of Honduras. Grated yucca is used to make this sweet pot cake by the Garifunas and Bay Islanders. It is mixed with a little flour, coconut cream, cane sugar, and cinnamon, then cooked. Similar to a crustless pumpkin pie, this dense, sweet yucca dessert has a lovely texture and spiced mocha flavor. Using a hand grater rather than a food processor to grate the yucca gives best results. For a finishing touch, sweetened condensed milk can be poured over the baked cake before serving. This pie is dense, sweet, chewy and wonderfully flavored.
You can find more about Honduran recipes in my Honduran Cookbook.