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Museumand recipe contribution: Toto

Toto is a favourite of Lynda’s because it dates right back to the beginning of her Caribbean heritage - the dish was first created by the enslaved on the plantations.  At night slaves were hungry from working all day and not getting enough to eat so they would mix coconut, molasses and flour to create a dish to ease their hunger pangs.  This dish became known as Toto and was cooked by putting the mixture in a tin covered by a metal sheet, then placing hot coals on top of the metal. The same cooking method is used to make sweet potato pudding and cornmeal pone, the method for baking often referred to as putting “fiyah a tap an’ fiyah a battam’ with Hallelujah in the middle, a great description for the baked result that’s very tasty and filling. Toto has been made consistently in the Caribbean ever since. The recipe has evolved to include dried fruits such as raisins, sweet wine, rum, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. Though still eaten on its own, as it would have been by the enslaved, it’s now also often served with things like ice-cream and pureed fruit. Despite this dessert’s humble origin it is still very popular among Caribbeans and serves as a reminder of the courage and fortitude of their ancestors.


  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups grated coconut
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup melted margarine
  • 1 ½  - 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon white rum (optional)


  • Grease baking tins.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Combine the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, grated coconut, baking powder, salt, raisins, mixed spice, nutmeg, and ginger - in a bowl.
  • Beat the eggs together.
  • Melt the margarine.
  • Mix together the wet ingredients -  eggs, margarine, coconut milk, vanilla, red wine and white rum.
  • Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix lightly.
  • Pour into a greased baking tin and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until done.
  • If a knife is inserted into the centre of the pudding and it comes out and the top is a nice golden brown, the pudding is ready.
  • Remove from oven, cool, cut and serve.

Recipe provided by museumand as part of their ongoing research into Caribbean cooking and traditions.

Lynda Burrell

Inspired by her maternal and paternal grandmothers who came from St Kitts and Jamaica, Lynda is still trying to learn to bake the way they did – judging quantities to use without needing the measuring jugs and weighing machines she was taught to use in a UK school. Her aim is to be adept in the kitchen preparing a meal using a minimum of utensils like her grandmothers did. She said they seemed to do everything using one spoon and one knife. To peel a potato in a modern kitchen in England a cook would use a potato peeler, a knife, and a chopping board but all a traditional Caribbean cook would need is a knife.