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Cuban bocado de principe

Published: March 31, 2022 at 4:04 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
    • + cooling
  • A little effort
  • Serves 8 - 10

This Cuban cake, topped with custard and dusted with cinnamon, is great for a celebration and is well worth the effort


Try this classic Cuban bake, then listen to our podcast episode where Luis shares the 10 things you need to know about Cuban food and cooking.

This bocado de pricipe recipe is a classic Cuban Easter bake from Luis Gonzalez-Castro. Luis says: “In my family, this cake was always saved for the biggest, fanciest parties and celebrations. It’s the campest of cakes: it’s kitsch, super traditional, fabulous to look at and reminds me of childhood christenings, holy communions and weddings in my 1980s childhood in Miami. My grandmother Cuca always made this cake – which loosely translates as ‘a morsel fit for a king’ – at Easter, when the adults would drink it drenched in rum and the kids got it with an eye-wateringly sweet sugar syrup poured over it. It’s a super-light sponge cake made with sugar syrup and then layered with a Cuban custard made with vanilla and aniseed. The whole show is then dusted with cinnamon. I love this cake because it’s just so sweet and fun. I also absolutely love custard but the aniseed takes it to another level.”

In partnership with NEFF



  • 950ml whole milk, plus a little extra
  • 2 tbsp aniseeds
  • 3 small cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks (or 5 medium)
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon, for dusting


  • 120g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs (or 6 medium), separated
  • 80ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • slice of lime peel
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25ml rum or coconut rum


  • STEP 1

    Make the natilla the night before the cake. Pour the milk into a pan and add the anise and cinnamon sticks. Bring to the boil, then pour in the sugar, whisking until completely dissolved. Pour through a fine sieve into a new pan.

  • STEP 2

    Put the egg yolks into a large bowl and whisk until light and frothy. Once the milk has cooled slightly, pour into the egg yolks slowly, whisking throughout to avoid the eggs cooking. Pour back into the pan.

  • STEP 3

    Slake the cornflour with a little milk to a smooth paste. Put the milk and egg mixture over a low-medium heat and slowly add the cornflour mixture. Cook gently, whisking all of the time, for around 10 minutes until you have a thick, smooth mixture. To make the mixture more or less stiff you can add or reduce the cornstarch. Be careful as more than 3½ tbsp of cornstarch will make the mixture quite wobbly. Once it's ready, let it cool down and cover the surface. You can serve this in nice glasses with a maria biscuit at the bottom of the cup, caramel or on its own. You can also use it to top a simple pound cake.

  • STEP 4

    To make the sponge, heat the oven to 195C/fan 175C/gas 5 and lightly grease a 22cm x 32cm baking dish. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and ¼ tsp of salt. Set aside. Separately, add three-quarters of the sugar to the mixer bowl with the egg yolks and mix on a high speed until the yolks are pale yellow. Slowly add the milk and vanilla to the mixture. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour and stir gently just until combined (don't over-mix).

  • STEP 5

    Use an electric whisk to beat the egg whites on high speed. Gradually add the remaining sugar as you mix and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into the batter. I use a wooden spoon, slowly spinning the bowl and cutting the mixture in half with the spoon as I go very slowly, until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Make sure to smooth it into an even layer so your baked cake doesn't have divots in it.

  • STEP 6

    Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

  • STEP 7

    For the icing, put the sugar, lime peel and 120ml of water into a pan and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the rum, and cool. Poke lots of holes all over the cake and spoon over the syrup. Once the cake is completely cool, spoon over the natilla, dust with ground cinnamon and cut into squares to serve.


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