Jamaican Toto cake is a classic easy coconut cake made with real grated coconut and delicious spices. It takes no time to make this cake and it is possible to make it even without a stand mixer. Unlike typical coconut cakes, the Jamaican version is heavily spiced and there is no artificial flavoring in it. There is also no processed coconut flakes as those tend to be artificially flavored and sweetened.
Creaming butter and sugar:
There are many recipes out there that will tell you to cream butter and sugar for a few minutes. I do not subscribe to that theory. The longer you cream butter and sugar, the lighter your cake will be. Whip the butter and sugar until the butter fluffs up with air and becomes almost a whipped butter. That is the air that will make your cake light and yes airy.
In Jamaica we have no issues with grating coconut. Well maybe we do, but we are pretty used to going with this old school method. I grated coconut for my Gizzadda recipe and Potato Pudding recipe. Make sure you check them out! Use a box grater to grate the coconut into tiny shreds. If you are absolutely averse to using a grater, use a food processor to get the coconut shredded. Start with a whole hardened coconut from a Caribbean store or a speciality store. You will have to remove the hard outer shell before grating the coconut.
The cake is spiced with vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Other folks also add rose water or almond essence. I find that they both threaten the taste of the coconut and it really should be the star of the show. I would assume that natural vanilla would kick up the flavor of this cake in a really nice way. If you have real vanilla beans, slip those in here instead of vanilla extract.
Mixer or No mixer:
The truth is you can make this cake without using a stand or hand mixer to help with the creaming process. You will end up with a denser, heavier cake because the mixers help to whip air into the butter in a way that doing it by hand cannot. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t have a mixer. Whip the butter and sugar by hand as best as you can and still make yourself a really delicious cake.
For this recipe you will need:
- 1- 8 inch baking tin
- Stand mixer
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Wooden spoon
- ½ cup salted butter (1 stick), softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp white rum
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour a baking tin. Be sure to dust out the excess flour. Set the tin aside until the batter is made
- Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer on high speed until the butter is pale and fluffy. This will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. The rest of the cake will be mixed by hand.
- In a separate bowl, break and whisk eggs. Add rum to the beaten eggs and whisk in well.
- Add the beaten eggs and rum mixture to the whipped butter and sugar. Use the whisk to combine the eggs and butter mixture well.
- Add the milk to the mixture and mix in well.
- In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon. Use a dry whisk to incorporate the spices into the flour. You can also add the spices directly to the wet ingredients. Be sure to whisk them well.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet batter in two portions. Be sure to whisk the flour from the first batch well before adding the second portion.
- Lasty, add in the grated coconut and whisk enough to incorporate the coconut. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake can be served slightly warm or completely cooled. Enjoy!
In the video tutorial below, I made a triple recipe as I was baking for friends. Be sure to use the measurements listed above!