No Cayman Christmas is complete without this traditional island sweet
Long before the Cayman Islands became a vacation destination – let alone the home of The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa – inventive Caymanian cooks took cassava, coconut, and a lot of loving labor and created a unique dessert that has become a must for every Caymanian celebration, including and especially Christmas: the deceptively-named heavy cake.
Why deceptive? Because heavy cake, while definitely meriting the adjective “heavy,” is technically not a cake – at least, not what most folks outside of the Caymans think of as cake. It contains no flour or leavening. It is not light or fluffy. It’s rather more like a dense, moist pudding in the general shape of a cake, firm enough to be sliced but still with a bit of wiggle to it. And it’s addictively delicious.
Heavy cake evolved at a time in Cayman history when imported ingredients like wheat flour were rare and expensive, so thrifty Caymanians made do with foods they could grow locally. While the sweet has been made from many of the starchy vegetables Caymanians refer to as “breadkind,” cassava (the root from which we also get tapioca) is most traditional. Grated cassava is combined with coconut milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, and spices, cooked down to a thick batter, and then baked until golden brown and delicious. That’s the general outline, anyway. As with any such folk recipe, there are as many jealously-guarded secret variations as there are traditional Caymanian cooks.
We hope we have whetted your appetite for this only-in-the-Caymans specialty. Whether you come to the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa for the Christmas holidays or at any other time of year, we will be happy to direct you to where you can sample some exemplary versions of heavy cake and see for yourself why we all are so mad for this special dish.