Perú has many wonderful native fruits and Lucuma is very popular, often prepared as an ice-cream. My love for Lucuma ice-cream, especially with swirls of chocolate, tempted me to develop a recipe for Lucuma Cake, with of course chocolate frosting. Lucuma and chocolate or (cacao) seem to go well together and you will often see them paired. I based my recipe on pumpkin spice cake. Uncooked Lucuma is significantly less watery than cooked pumpkin, so I had to adjust the moisture level to compensate. You can adjust the amount of evaporated milk in the recipe to accommodate drier Lucumas (or lack of altitude). Adjust the batter so it is thicker than most pancake batter, and coats a spoon well, holding about a 1/4 inch thick all over when inserted and removed.
Lucuma has a caramel taste, to me, and many say it has notes of maple and sweet potato, which I certainly sense. I’ve seen Lucuma flour in the USA, but strangely not here in Perú. I prefer to cook with whole ingredients when possible, so fresh Lucumas made more sense than trying to find Lucuma flour and then making a recipe from that. Though if I could find it I’d try to make a great gluten-free recipe (which this is not, sorry!).
While I wouldn’t consider Lucuma to be a subtly flavored fruit, I was concerned with not overpowering the great Lucuma flavor with too much spice. So I didn’t add any clove to the recipe (which I consider essential to spice cakes) and I’m happy with the omission. One could use powdered ginger, but I stopped using that years ago as I really like fresh ginger.
Lucuma Cake Recipe
This fills two 9 inch spring-form cake pans, so you end up with one giant cake. Halve the recipe if you want to be more modest. This is a high-altitude recipe–hey I live at the top of the Andes, 10,692′ (3,259 m)–so that is how I cook now!
- 1.5 cups fresh Lucuma flesh (pitted and skinned) about 14 oz
- 4.5 cups unbleached, sifted flour
- 3.5 cups sugar (we use rubia, which is red and kind of coarse; substitute half white, half brown)
- 5 medium eggs (you could reduce to 4 eggs in low altitude)
- 1.5 cups butter
- 1.5 teaspoon baking soda (I would have used baking power as well, but I can’t find it here)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated is always better!)
- 2 Tablespoons finely grated ginger (mince and macerate)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (wish I could find vanilla beans!)
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated Limón zest (lemon would work)
- 3/4 cup yellow raisins
- 1-1.5 cups evaporated milk (you could substitute and adjust using the fresh milk of your choice)
The preparation procedure is pretty standard heavy cake. That is: cream the butter and sugar together (my mixer broke doing this so I resorted to hand beating–ahh!), slowly beat in the eggs, one-by-one (this is important), then add Lucuma and 1 cup milk, and all spices. Sift all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) and fold 1/2 a cup at a time into the batter. Do the spoon coating test I mentioned above, and add more milk to arrive at a standard thick cake batter consistency. Fold in raisins. Butter and flour a spring-form cake pan, and pour in half the batter. Bake at 350? until done. My oven is wonky and I’m high altitude so I rely on tests. Cake will rise then likely sink a little, the center will start to look done and when you press your finger toward the center of the cake 1/4 inch down, it should mostly spring back and only leave a slight impression. Also inset a toothpick in the center of the cake and it should come out clean. In the states I would have assumed that it would bake about 35-40 minutes. My first layer took 50 minutes, my second layer took 40. Go figure.
Let the cakes cool and frost as desired. I made a coconut caramel filling for between the layers. Think German Chocolate Cake. My recipe for the filling is:
Coconut Caramel Filling Recipe
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar (I powder my own sugar in the blender)
- 2 Tablespoons Evaporated Milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- the leftover ground coconut meat from one coconut after one makes coconut milk (which you consume separately) or about 1 cup packed flaked coconut
- optional: 2 Tablespoons Creme de Cacao (chocolate or “cacao” liquor)
Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan, add sugar, milk and salt (and the Creme de Cacao if you want it). Cook on medium, stirring (if that is your method–some do some don’t) until it is like thick caramel sauce. Technically, it is called “thread stage” which is just before “soft ball”. In other words, put a spoon in and lift it out. The sauce should form a thread running off of the spoon. Not stick and stay on the spoon (that’s candy) and not immediately fall off. Then slowly add the coconut (careful it can foam up at this point). Cook 2-3 minutes more, and cool before spreading it on top of the bottom layer during assembly. If the sauce seems thin, let it soak in a bit before placing the top layer on.
Now frost the cake!
I would have made Ganache to frost the cake, but it was late and I didn’t want to go get chocolate so I made a simple cocoa cream cheese frosting. Here is my recipe for that:
Simple Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting
- >8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 8 oz. butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar (you can decrease if you aren’t going to pipe it)
- 1/2 to 1 cups cocoa (more for bitter chocolate–which I like)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon instant “dry” coffee (or add 1/2 shot espresso and 2 Tablespoons more cocoa); note: coffee make chocolate taste better!
No cooking. Just beat up a standard frosting. Whip up the cream cheese and butter, slowly add in the powdered sugar, salt, cocoa, coffee and vanilla (in that order) continuing to whip. Add a teaspoon or more of milk if it is too stiff (due to all the cocoa) or more sugar or cocoa if it is too runny (because you used espresso?). Frost the cake, slice and eat!