Cinnamon Custard Cake {Latiya}


Pronounced: "La-tee-ja"
My mom & dad…when they were young…
It's funny how a picture can say a thousand words. Just glancing at one can bring out the tiniest bit of emotion that you never knew existed. My parents are the ones who take up occupancy in the picture on the right. I assume it was taken before I came into this world, hence their smiling faces :)  As a child, I used to stare at this picture for hours, wondering what they were thinking as they looked into the lens of the camera. Looking at this picture as a middle-aged adult who is no longer a child, I see a couple who is about to embark on the greatest journey of their lives together as a military family.

They met on the tiny island of Guam, where both of them are from. Dad was in the U.S. Marines when they married. They relocated to the United States shortly after their wedding and a couple of years later, my father transferred over to the U.S. Army, where he retired as a First Sergeant. 

Throughout all our travels, my mother would always cook and bake dishes from her native island.  It wasn't unusual for her to spend half the day in the kitchen, cooking up our favorite Chamorran dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or *just cause.*  I think it was her way of chasing away the homesickness.  

When I moved out on my own in my early 20's, I made sure that I took copies of the recipes to some of her signature dishes that I learned to love.

Latiya is one of them :) 

This dessert is famous among the people of Guam. I LOVE it because it's like comfort food for me. Who can resist angel food cake/sponge cake with a tasty, creamy custard on top and cinnamon sprinkles to round it out?? 

It's great to make if you are having a barbecue or have been invited to a special event because it makes quite a lot.

All the credit goes to my mom when it comes to this recipe.  She is the one who introduced this dish to us and in turn, I am introducing it to all of you ;)

Cinnamon Custard Cake {Latiya}
 (serves 8-10)

1 stick butter
2 (12 oz.) cans of Evaporated Milk
2 cans of water, poured into both emptied cans of the evaporated milk
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
12 tbsp. or 3/4 cup of cornstarch
1 bottle of Ground Cinnamon
Store bought or homemade angel food cake and/or sponge cake and/or pound cake


1.  Cut the cake into squares and place them on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan. 

2.  Melt butter in a pot and add milk. Add one of the cans of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium.

3.  In a separate bowl, add the cornstarch and the second can of water. Mix thoroughly.

4.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the milk mixture and stir constantly. Add the sugar while stirring.

5.  Let this boil for 5 minutes or until thickened. It may take a while to thicken, but it will :)

6.  Pour over the cake.  Place in the fridge to chill for a few hours or over night.

7.  Sprinkle with enough cinnamon to decorate and serve.  

Recipe Source: My mama ;)


  1. YUM! I like the sound of this!! Thanks for the recipe! Great site! :)

  2. Hafa adai. I'm glad I came across your corner of the Internet. I was on, did a search for Guam and your latiya recipe came up. That's one of my favorite desserts from home. It's funny that your recipe uses a Carnation can as measurement - my mom's recipe calls for the same thing. I'm definitely paying your blog another visit soon. Happy Holidays to your and your family.

    - Rich T (Guam/Seattle)

  3. Hi Libby - silly question for you - do you pour the liquid on while it's still hot? The angel food cake looks flat in the picture. Thanks!!

  4. Yes. You pour the liquid on while it is still hot. As it cools, it will begin to thicken. It's ok if the angel food cake is cut flat or in chunks. It's good either way ;) Hope this answers your question :)

  5. Sponge cake, pound cake or yellow cake can also be used to make this dessert.

  6. I'm not Chamorro, but I lived in Guam for a good part of my life and I just wanted to thank you for putting this recipe up. I have taken Chamorro in high school, but I left behind the recipes that my teacher have given us back in Guam. I tried recalling the recipes, but I couldn't so I searched it up. :)
    I love eating latiya while it's still warm and over pound cake. :D
    Again, thank you so much!

    1. You are very welcome :) We LOVE this dessert here ;)

  7. What size can of evaporated milk do you use?

    1. We use two (12 oz.) cans of evaporated milk :)

  8. My grandma never measured... I remember her standing at the stove, throwing in this & that & of course, she used the empty can of carnation to measure the water...

  9. Hafa adai! Thank you for posting my favorite recipe from family parties. My grandmother was a Libby from Guam too. Her mother was from Saipan and always made this with ladyfingers, and my grandmother would use a spongecake. I think angel food cake sounds really good. I'll have to pass on your URL to my sister!

    1. Ohhh…ladyfingers would go well with this! I think we did try it with spongecake before as well ;) Yes…please pass this on to your sister ;)

  10. karen smead mondaleMarch 8, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    My grandmother (Marion Lake Smead) started the high school in Guam. She cooked something she called masaki that she learned from a native Guam friend. It's a DELICIOUS dish comprised of eggplant, ground beef, tomatoes, onion. I have added garlic, turmeric, rosenary to my version & serve it over rice or elbow macaroni, sometimes adding grated cheese.

    Anyone from Guam heard of this masaki? I'd live to see the original or different version.


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