Before CHamoru month comes to an end, I wanted to celebrate with one of the classic dessert recipes from Guam, the latiya (la-tee-jah). This vegan CHamoru latiya is made with a vanilla sponge cake, topped with a custard-like pudding, and sprinkled generously with cinnamon. It’s light, creamy, and so delicious. Not only that, but it’s so easy to make. A one-pan dessert that requires no special decorations or fancy frosting. It’s no wonder it’s a favorite back home.
Latiya was introduced to the Chamoru’s during the colonization of Guam around the 17th-19th century. This dessert was based on a Spanish custard, called natilla. However, the people of Guam have adapted this recipe and served it with the custard over a sponge cake. Since then, it became a comfort food and normally served during gatherings and special occasions.
Normally, most people usually use store-bought pound cake as their base. They slice it up and layer it on the bottom of the pan, then pour the custard over top. However, for this vegan CHamoru latiya, I decided to make a sponge cake as the base. As you wait for the cake to cool, you make the custard and then pour it over. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top and you’re done! You bake and assemble everything into one pan. No need for fancy decorations or frosting.
It’s been so long since I’ve had latiya. And this dessert tastes just like how I remembered it! Creamy, rich, and the cake definitely balances out the sweetness. It’s too good! It definitely brings me back to my childhood. So if you want to try a new dessert and a Guam favorite, this is the recipe for you. I am going to continue recreating Guam favorite dishes to share and to represent my home! So stay tuned for that…and Biba Mes CHamoru!
If you tried this recipe out, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Don’t forget to rate it as well. You can also share and tag me on Instagram @flouredframe, I would love to see your recreations! Happy baking!
Recipe and photos updated December 2020.