RECIPE: Cassava fruit cake celebrates Atlanta chef’s Trinidadian heritage

Cassava Fruit Cake With Coconut Curry Ice Cream. 

Courtesy of Demetirus J Brown.

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Cassava Fruit Cake With Coconut Curry Ice Cream. Courtesy of Demetirus J Brown.

Described as “the dream child” of Atlanta chef Demetrius J. Brown, the Heritage Supper Club pop-up celebrates Caribbean and African American culture, tradition and cuisine.

Brown grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, in a Trinidadian family, and graduated from Johnson & Wales University, before moving to Atlanta, where he worked at restaurants such as Watershed, Canoe, the Hill at Serenbe and, most recently, the Pinewood.

Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down the Pinewood. “That’s when I decided to start the supper club,” Brown said, “to try to reconnect with my roots, and learn more about my people and our cuisine.”

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Demetrius J. Brown is the chef-owner of Heritage Supper Club. Courtesy of Demetrius J. Brown

Demetrius J. Brown is the chef-owner of Heritage Supper Club. Courtesy of Demetrius J. Brown

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Demetrius J. Brown is the chef-owner of Heritage Supper Club. Courtesy of Demetrius J. Brown

In addition to a steady stream of ticketed pop-up dinners, Heritage Supper Club does private dinners and catering, and Brown has plans for more events at breweries and other more casual locations.

Many of the courses at Heritage dinners are based on Brown’s memories of dishes his mother and grandmother made when he was growing up. One of those recipes is an updated cassava fruit cake, made with dried fruit and cassava flour.

“It’s a super common dessert in Jamaica and Trinidad,” Brown said. “My grandmother is Trinidadian, and she would make it for my brother and me. It’s traditionally called pone, and it’s really dense and moist, kind of between pound cake and banana bread.

“I made it for Christmas last year, and it really took me back to my grandmother.”

Cassava Fruit Cake with Coconut Curry Ice Cream
  • For the fruit:
  • ¼ cup rum
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2½ cups diced dried fruit of your choice, such as dates, prunes, raisins or apricots
  • For the cake:
  • 3¼ cups sugar
  • 2 cups cassava flour, available at Kroger, Walmart and Whole Foods
  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Heat the oven to 325.
  • Butter and flour a 6-cup (8½-inch by 4½-inch) loaf pan.
  • In a saucepan, heat the rum and water to a simmer, remove from the heat, add the dried fruit and steep until the fruit is softened.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  • With a hand mixer on high, whip the softened butter with the white and brown sugar, until fluffy.
  • Add the condensed milk, lime zest and vanilla, and slowly mix in the flour mixture, until no lumps remain.
  • Fold in the dried fruit, along with any residual liquid.
  • Pour into a pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Serves 12

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, cake only: 684 calories (percent of calories from fat, 41), 3 grams protein, 100 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 32 grams total fat (20 grams saturated), 84 milligrams cholesterol, 416 milligrams sodium.

For the ice cream:
  • 1½ cups coconut milk
  • 1¼ cups cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the cream of coconut and coconut milk to a simmer.
  • Add the sugar, salt and curry powder, and stir until incorporated.
  • Cool in a refrigerator overnight.
  • Mix in the black pepper, and churn it in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serves 12

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 171 calories (percent of calories from fat, 78), 2 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 16 grams total fat (14 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 166 milligrams sodium.
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