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In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), cassava is mainly a subsistence crop grown for food by small-scale farmers who sell the surplus. Global research shows that cassava contributes significantly to the nutrition and livelihood of up to 500 million people and thousands of processors and traders around the world (Plucknett et al., 1998). Apart from food, cassava is very versatile and its derivatives and starch are applicable in many types of products such as foods, confectionery, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and drugs. 

During the process of cake making, Meire F., et al (2012), suggests that cassava cake can be enriched with biomass 1   and bran which are made out of its own starch and richer in carbohydrates as well as proteins, vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals.

To leverage on these dietetic benefits, Farm Concern International (FCI) represented by Kenneth Karumbo, Margret Akinyi and Margret Waka took center stage in Busia and Homabay Counties in Kenya to train smallholder farmers on nutrition in various Commercial Villages by showing them how to prepare value added products. Karumbo, a nutritionist by profession working with FCI as Catering and Nutrition Officer, trained farmers how to prepare nutritious cassava cake. 

Related Video: Cassava revolution in Africa

Compared to wheat made cakes, cassava is starchy whose roots are very rich in carbohydrates which are a major source of energy. According to Okigbo B., (2010), cassava plant is the highest producer of carbohydrates among crop plants with perhaps the exception of sugarcane. However, cassava can produce 250 x 103 calories/ha/day compared to 176 x 103 for rice, 110 x 103 for wheat, 200 x 103 for maize, and 114 x 103 for sorghum. Moreover, Baffour T., (2009) indicates that cassava flour does not contain gluten, an allergenic protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Also known as tapioca flour, it can be used by gluten intolerant people to replace wheat flour. 

As a result, Karumbo suggests that its time people turn a new leaf and use cassava cakes in weddings and birthday parties to have the African taste and cassava nutritional benefits. “It’s sugar level is manageable and thus can suit people suffering from Diabetes Mellitus which is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood,” he says. 

To prepare the cassava cake at ones comfort zone, Karumbo lays out the recipe as follows:- 

Ingredients

  • 3 mugs cassava flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 ½ mugs of milk
  • 1 table lemon rind (grated lemon)
  • 1 cup margarine or 250 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoon full baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice/ginger/cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 5 medium sized eggs
  • 5g salt, a pinch

Preparation

  • Mix the margarine/oil and sugar until it is light, fluffy and creamy.
  • Add eggs (one by one to ensure they are good) to the mixture and continue mixing.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt separately before rubbing it in (mixing) with the already prepared egg mixture.
  • While mixing, try to incorporate as much air as possible by turning the dough along the inside circumference of the sufuria.
  • Add milk and continue to turn so as to achieve a dripping, smooth, thick consistency mixture.
  • Smear the baking tin (sufuria) with margarine and dust it off with the wheat flour to prevent the cake from sticking to the baking tin.
  • Cover the baking tin with a lid and put it in an oven with minimal heat for about 30-40 minutes.
  • Test whether the cake is ready by pricking it with a clean object like knife or skewer. If the object comes out clean, the cake should be ready.
  • Remove the cake from fire and immediately turn the baking tin upside down onto a tray and wait for it to cool.
  • If need be, put food icing and decorations to enhance the appetite.

In the absence of an oven, Karumbo advises that one can use a charcoal jiko by removing charcoal from the upper part of the jiko and put them in the lower part to avoid heating the cake directly. In such a circumstance, a clean thick pan is used to cover the sufuria and place burning charcoal on it. Either way (use of oven or jiko), Karumbo suggests that the product is a wholesome and sumptuous cake that can be used at any festive occasion! 


 Notes

1. Biomass and bran are cassava products made out of its own starch rich in protein, vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals. 


 

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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.