Cassava pone is a sweet dish made with grated coconut and grated cassava. The texture of this dish varies significantly depending on how you make it. I prefer a dense cake like pone versus the chewy, gummy softer versions, simply because this is the version of pone I ate growing up. Recipes for pone with condensed milk, coconut milk and evaporated milk result in the softer gummy textures. This recipe is more true to the pone made by street vendors in Guyana, with a dense rich texture that allows you to fully enjoy the star ingredients–cassava and coconut.
Is Cassava Pone an Afro-Guyanese/ Afro-Caribbean dish?
It is believed that cassava pone was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. However, while researching articles for this post, I couldn't find any African (particularly West African) dishes similar to our cassava pone. Although, one article referenced pone as a Native American dish of flat cornmeal cakes baked in ashes. This sparked some curiosity because I remember hearing stories of pone being baked in a dutch oven, on a coal pot with hot coals placed on the lid of the pot to aid in the baking process. The visual of this old time way of baking pone and the Native American pone buried in ashes seemed eerily similar.
Choosing the Coconut and Cassava
If you are fortunate to live in a place where you get fresh cassava and coconut, then here are a few tips to ensure you choose the best ones:
- Follow these 4 tips when buying coconuts.
- Choose a coconut that is dark in color. This indicates that it has dried longer and the flesh will be more creamy.
- Feel the weight of the coconut in your hands. If the coconut feels heavy choose this one
- Then shake the coconut and listen for the water shaking inside. If there is water that is a good sign that there are no cracks or leaks in your coconut
- Check the eyes (three dots on the coconut) to confirm that they are dry and mold or fungus free
- For cassava:
- Unfortunately the only way to tell if you have a good cassava it to break off a piece. In the markets in Guyana you can do this while choosing your cassava. I sometimes sneak and do it here in the US, to the first one or two cassavas to see if the batch is good.
- Always buy more cassava than you need, incase some of it is bad.
- If you can, buy cassava from market/supermarkets that have population that will buy cassava often. What I mean by this, is don't get your cassava from a supermarket in a predominately white neighborhood, that isn't buying cassava regularly. Especially if it is neatly wrapped in plastic and labelled. Chances are those cassavas have been sitting there for a while and will likely be rotten.
- I buy cassava from Asian and latin markets, like HMart. These stores have high immigrant traffic, with people like me buying cassava daily, therefore their cassava will be fresher than other stores.
- If you can break a piece of the cassava off before buying, look for a cassava that is completely white with no dark lines or cream spots. Dark lines and cream spots are signs of fungus and decay.
How to peel cassava:
Start but cutting your cassava into manageable pieces. I typically do three to four inch rounds, because they fit perfectly in the palm of my hands. Then using a paring knife, make a vertical slit in the skin of the cassava. Next slide the tip of the knife in between the slit and under the skin. Finally, peel the skin away from the cassava flesh.
Simple ingredients for the best cassava pone:
The best cassava pone needs just a few ingredients:
- Grated Cassava: you may use fresh or frozen, hand grated or pulsed in the food processor
- Grated coconut: I've used fresh, frozen and coconut flakes and they all work
- Butter: Regular or vegan. In this recipe I used Earth Balance Soy Free Vegan butter
- Sugar: I prefer demerara sugar, to American brown sugar.
- Warm Spices: I used nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla essence. Some people add mixed essence or almond essence
- Black Pepper: This is not optional. Good pone has a little kick of heat that comes from black pepper. For this recipe coarse black pepper is best or you can crush whole pepper corns in a mortar and pestle.
In some Caribbean islands pumpkin and sweet potatoes may be added to the cassava pone. This is not typically done in Guyana. Although my grandmother would add a small amount of sweet potato to her pone, to make the top a soft, smooth texture. I like the contrast of the crunchy top to the soft interior of the pone so I don't add sweet potatoes or anything else to my cassava pone.
Once you've mixed all of your ingredients together well. I add my ingredients to my stand mixer and beat it with the paddle attachment for 3-5 minutes and perfection! Pictured above is the texture you are looking for before baking. A really wet pone mixture will cause the cassava to become gummy. I do not add milk, or any liquids to my pone, except when I am using dried coconut flakes. When I am using coconut flakes I add about ¼ cup of coconut milk to this recipe.
I bake my cassava pone with the rack slightly above middle, to allow the top of the pone to be more evenly browned. Since cassava tends to be a bit sticky when baking the toothpick test isn't really reliable for confirming if the pone is ready. Bake your cassava pone for at least one hour and until it is golden brown in color. Be warned that the pone may not be evenly brown at the top. Another good indication that the pone is ready, is if after baking for an hour, it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Allow the pone to cool completely before slicing into squares. I'm an edge lover, as are most people and I once made pone in this mini loaf sheet pan and it was heaven. Every piece was an edge piece!
Love a Good Pone?
Then try My Pumpkin Spice Pone recipe:
Save for later
Easy Printable Cassava Pone recipe:
Printable Recipe Card
- 2 lbs cassava grated
- 1 large coconut grated (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup demerara sugar
- ¼ cup softened butter
- 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cassava, coconut, brown sugar, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and vanilla essence
- Mix together well until everything is fully incorporated
- Place mixture into a greased baking dish and bake on the middle rack for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until pone is golden brown in color and pulls away from the sides of the pan
- Remove from oven and let cool. Once pone cools, cut into squares
- Enjoy with some Mauby
For this recipe feel free to use fresh, frozen or dried coconut flakes. If using dried coconut flakes, add ¼ cup of coconut milk to the recipe. Also if using dried coconut flakes, pulse the flakes in the food processor to mimic grated coconut. Grating Cassava
You may use the grate (not small shred) side of a box grater for a smoothly grated cassava. Or you may cut your peeled cassava into cubes and blend it in a food processor until it is a smooth paste.
Your receipe at the top says 1 cup brown sugar but in your actual ingredients below it says 1/2 cup is this a typo sorrya little confused thnks for sharing calra in toronto
Althea Brown says
Hi there sorry about that it’s 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
We put black pepper in our cassava coconut pone
Althea Brown says
Hi this recipe was a really old post when I just started blogging and trying to figure out some Guyanese faves, but it's just been updated, to reflect an authentic Guyanese cassava pone. Please take a look at the new post. Thank you.
Thats not how real pone is made though, this is the guyanese version and pone is a caribbean dessert not guyanese dessert
Well Paul this is how real GT pone is made. I am not a fan of pumpkin which trinidadian's use in there's hence why hers is guyanese desert. Different strokes for for different contrived she can call hers whatever she wants.
I am going to try this recipe! Do you think I can make this recipe vegan with vegan butter?
Althea Brown says
You definitely can
Jasmine Trotman says
sorry I just read the type of vegan butter which you used. thank you!
Althea Brown says
No worries. Glad it helped.
Love your content. What equity did you use to grate the coconut in the shell?