Pan de Cazabé

Modern Cassava (Yuca) Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Eating Cuban

Eating Cuban

By Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs

Published 2006

  • About

Yuca, also called yucca, cassava, or manioc, has always been the most important crop for the Ciboney and Taino peoples of Cuba. There are two basic varieties, bitter yuca (which is not generally available in the United States) and sweet yuca. The bitter variety contains a high level of prussic acid and is toxic if not properly prepared: It must be completely peeled, then the white flesh grated and all of the toxic juices pressed out. The Ciboney and Taino dipped the points of their arrows in this poisonous liquid, and the flesh was then dried, pounded into flour, and made into unleavened crackerlike bread called cazabé. Sweet yuca, the kind found fresh in supermarket produce departments, must also be carefully peeled and boiled before eating, but is not highly toxic. Sweet yuca has a texture and flavor similar to that of a potato (and indeed russet potatoes can be used in place of yuca in this recipe).

Not many people these days prepare traditional cazabé at home, though it is made commercially and sold at Cuban and Latin American grocery stores in the United States. The pizzalike bread that follows, made with cooked sweet yuca, is a tasty modern variation.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound small, firm yuca (cassava)
  • cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup olive oil

Method

Peel the yuca with a vegetable peeler, making sure to remove both the waxed outer peel and the rosy underpeel. This may also be done with a paring knife: Insert the tip of the knife under the peel and underpeel to loosen them, then use your hands to peel them off. Cut the white flesh crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces. Cook it in a large pot of unsalted boiling water until the pieces begin to split open, about 20 minutes. Add ¼ cup cold water and continue to cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove the yuca with a slotted spoon and remove and discard the fibrous core. Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the cooked yuca. (If substituting potatoes, peel, boil until tender, then grate.)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a pizza stone or griddle in the oven to preheat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the flour mixture. In a large measuring cup, stir together 1 cup of the grated yuca, the eggs, oil, and ¼ cup water. Pour this mixture into the well in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together, adding a little extra water if the dough seems dry. Knead on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough to fit the pizza stone, about ½ inch thick. Prick in several places with a fork. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden. Cut the bread into wedges and serve.