Byron Scarlett’s Coconut Toto Cake

One of Byron’s special recipes is this cake he learned to make from his mother in Jamaica. Toto (pronounced toe-to) is a traditional Jamaican dessert served at most family gatherings.

By / Photography By John F. Carafoli | April 21, 2017


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter an 8 × 12-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer until well combined. Add the eggs one a time and the vanilla.

In another bowl sift together the flour, corn meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt.

With a large spoon, fold the flour mixture, raisins, and coconut into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, alternating with the evaporated milk until well combined. The batter will be quite firm. Spread the batter evenly in the buttered baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes until done.

About this recipe

*Byron uses fresh coconut, but you can buy Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes and process in a food processor until fine.


  • ½ cup butter, plus more for preparing the baking dish
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups self-rising flour, or 3 cups all-purpose flour plus 4½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated unsweetened coconut*
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk or coconut milk
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