Toto (Jamaican coconut cake)

On a UK quiz show, a question about what toto, conkies and cassava pone all contained. The answer was ‘coconut’ but of all of the foods, I’d never heard of toto. Then I found out it was a Jamaican coconut cake and I felt terrible. Why didn’t I know about a dessert from Jamaican culture? A quick identity crisis came and went (via some joking words with my Jamaican mum) and I looked it up:

Toto (also referred to as tuoto and toe-toe bulla) is a small coconut cake in Jamaican cuisine served as a snack or dessert.

And according to, the cake originated from enslaved people on the island:

At night time slaves were hungry from being underfed. They would use coconut, molasses and flour to make totos.  It was baked the traditional way with fire coals place on top of a metal sheet covering the cake pan and fire beneath the cake pan. This style of backing is where the Jamaican term “fiyah a tap an fiyah a battam” and “hell a tap an hell a battam” comes from.

Cook Like a Jamaican has a great recipe if you want to try it:


  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Desiccated (unsweetened) or freshly grated coconut
  • 3 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Raisins (optional)
  • 2 Eggs, well beaten
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Jamaican rum (optional)

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