Toto is a coconut spice cake that is popular throughout the Caribbean. On some islands it is simply called Coconut Cake. Toto is a dense cake that is rather plain and not much to look at but the combination of coconut and spices makes for a delicious confection that is sure to delight any coconut lover. Add a little (¼ C. or so) dark rum for added flavor.
This recipe happened quite unintentionally a few years ago. I had some grated coconut lingering in the fridge and a new brand of vanilla to try. Add to that the fact that my now former boss had just gifted me with some antique Pyrex baking dishes. I needed and excuse to use the Pyrex so the coconut and the new vanilla were just the thing. The vanilla wasn’t really my choice, I’m a brand snob when it comes to some things, but it was all I had. So after whipping up my coconut cake or Toto as we Jamaicans call it and waiting for it to bake, I could hardly contain myself. I vaguely recall something about putting it outside in the middle of a Pennsylvania winter to speed up the cooling process.
As soon as I could I bit into the first slice I was immediately transported back to memories of my younger days in Jamaica. The vanilla, a concentrate made by Island Spice had such a rich aroma and gave the cake such authentic flavor my cousin and I ate the whole thing in 1 sitting
Well. that toto turned out so good I had to write the recipe ( the same one you see below) down before I forgot. As I do with almost all my recipes I gave it a couple more tries to make sure it worked before sharing it with you. And. I am confident that once you give it a try you will agree that this cake is pure coconut heaven.
Toto – Coconut Cake Recipe
1 C. sugar
¼ lb. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon*
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg*
1½ C. milk or coconut milk
1½ C. grated coconut (coconut flakes)
3 C. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine ground cornmeal
Preheat oven to 375°Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg well, until fully combined. Beat in milk. Add coconut. Slowly beat in flour until mixture is smooth. Add baking powder and cornmeal. Mix well. Pour mixture into a glass rectangular 8” x 12” or round 9” baking pan. Bake in center of oven at 400° for about 35 minutes. Insert and remove toothpick in center. If toothpick is not clean return cake to the oven.Check every 5 minutes for doneness. Cool on a cooling rack. Store in a cool dark area at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 7 days.
* substitute 1 tsp Sweet Spice Dessert Accent in place of Cinnamon and nutmeg