• Corn and guava cake (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

A traditional-style corn cake topped with a sweet guava paste - it hits the sweet spot warm or cold. Buen provecho! 






Skill level

Average: 4 (36 votes)

"A deeply satisfying moist cake with a seam of deep pink guava and warm aromas of corn and coconut. The recipe is from rising star chef Danielle Alvarez (Fred’s) who has fond memories of this cake being made by her Cuban grandmother, the tropical fragrance of the guava as it’s cooked slowly with sugar filling the house. Grating fresh coconut and wrapping the mix in banana leaves ready for baking evokes a long ago era and makes for magnificent presentation. Unusual and delightful and Danielle says it’s even better the next day." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth 


  • 250 g freshly grated coconut
  • 375 ml tin evaporated milk
  • 395 g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 180 g plain flour
  • 180 g fine cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • fresh banana leaves, for lining tin

Guava paste

  • 12 guava, peeled and halved
  • 500 g sugar, approximately

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 30 minutes

To make the guava paste, place the guava in a medium saucepan and add enough water to almost cover. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10–15 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat and drain. Process through a mouli or potato ricer and discard the seeds. Weigh the guava puree and place in a clean pan with an equal amount of sugar. Combine well. Place over very low heat (on a diffuser or in a jam pot would be even better as it burns very easily), stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to cook over very low heat for 1 hour until the paste is thickened. Stir every few minutes because as it reduces it is more and more prone to burning so be careful. If it does catch on the bottom, simply pour the mixture into another small clean pan and keep cooking. Test the paste as you would jam by placing a small amount on a cold dish, if it is runny then keep cooking but if it sets then it’s done. Remove from heat and pour into a shallow tray or dish and leave to set until cooled. Makes about 1 kg.

For the cake, preheat oven to 175°C. 

Place the coconut, evaporated milk and condensed milk in a blender and process until well combined. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue to beat until just incorporated, scraping down once or twice to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder.

Add the coconut mixture to the butter mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the dry ingredients and mixing at low speed until just combined.

Cut the central spine out of the banana leaves. Using a 26 cm round springform tin as a guide, cut the banana leaves into pieces big enough to cover the base and sides, then wrap over the top of the batter. Soften the leaves briefly over a gas flame until pliable and line the base and side of the springform tin, with the shiny side of the leaves facing up and leaving the sides overhanging.

Pour the batter into the lined tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Measure out 250 g guava paste, then dollop spoonfuls of the paste all over the top of the cake and spread with a spatula. Fold the overhanging banana leaves over to cover the top of the cake. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving with extra guava paste – it’s delicious warm or cold and even better the next day.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.

Brand-new series Food Safari Earth airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS then on SBS On Demand. For recipes and more visit the program site right here.