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Bahamian Johnny Cake

March 7, 2010

Click HERE if you’re looking for the American breakfast treat Johnny Cakes

This was a joint effort – Fred told the story, Katy wrote it up and Mary baked the Johnny cake.


When Dad was working in the Bahamas the first time, hired by the government to head up a project building houses for their lower-income citizens, he enjoyed many things. The weather was definitely one of them. The local workers huddled together in their winter coats saying “It is too cold to work, Mistah Winkah” in 70 degree weather, was not. The cook of the house, Edna, made two of his favorite dishes ever. One was conch salad (a form of ceviche made with diced conch, onions, peppers and lime juice); the other was Johnny Cake. 


When we were attempting to find a good recipe for it, Dad said that the difference between Bahamian Johnny Cake and Caribbean Johnny Cake is that there’s no cornmeal in the Bahamian version. Dad recalls the first time Edna made Johnny Cake for him:

I first had Johnny Cake  in a restaurant when we first visited the Bahamas.  Once we moved there and hired a cook, Edna, I asked if she could make Johnny Cake “Yessah, if I have all the ingredients I can make Johnny Cake for you.” I asked, “Can I find all the ingredients at the grocery store? Edna said, “Yessah”.



The grocery store had all the ingredients except for the tin of lard. I searched and searched but found no lard. I scoured each shelf of the small grocery store – no lard. So I went to the check-out gal who was so HUGE she must have weighed about 300 pounds and sat on a stool.  When I asked her if they carried a tin of lard she smiled real big and said “yes, sir right there behind you on the shelf.” I turned, and there was Crisco. She smiled real big and said “I know, I know – that’s what we call a tin of lard”.



I brought home all of the ingredients and Edna made Johnny Cake – a HUGE Johnny cake – it must have been 2 feet by 3 feet! We were only able to eat half of it in an entire week it was so big.  It got stale and we threw the rest of it out.  I told Edna it was too much and that I was going to buy her a smaller pan, which I did.  The next time she made it, it was in the huge pan again! I didn’t see her again for a few days, and when I asked why she didn’t use the new pan, she looked at me in disgust and said, “It wouldn’t FIT!” It was all I could do to bite my tongue and walk away so she wouldn’t see me bust a gut laughing.  That Edna was quite a gal.


When we visited Dad in the Bahamas, we ended up loving the Johnny Cake as much as he did. We hope you like it, too, even if it isn’t consumed under a palm tree with tropical breezes.


Bahamian Johnny Cake


     3 cups flour

     1 tablespoon baking powder

     1  teaspoon salt

     1/4 cup sugar

     1⁄2 cup crisco or other shortening

     2/3 cup milk

Combine dry ingredients then cut in shortening until the size of rice grains. Add milk gradually, just enough to make dough soft. Knead dough until smooth then let it rest for about 10 minutes.



Place dough in greased 8 or 9 inch round or square pan. Pierce top of dough with a fork. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden.


Remove from oven and baste top of bread with milk. Return to oven and allow to bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2010 9:59 am

    Perfect and inviting to make and eat. Love the look of these and the smell cooking must be fabulous!

  2. March 7, 2010 10:32 am

    That Edna – she’s a funny one.
    I’ll bet that pan was close to 2’x3′ because restaurant sheet pans measure 18″ x 26″ close enough!

  3. Vegetable Matter permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:57 am

    I think my kids will love these, and it looks like a good family baking project. Now we just need to arrange a family vacation to the Bahamas to complete our research…

  4. Linda permalink
    March 8, 2010 2:44 pm

    Johnny Cake is sooooo good … I love it with conch chowder and only have it when we go to the bahamas. I will have it here with chili in the states.

  5. March 8, 2010 4:28 pm

    These look perfect for a weekend breakfast…oh with coffee!!


  6. March 8, 2010 11:38 pm

    lol. I’m bahamian, and i just HAD to come and look. I LOVE johnny cake, but i could never seem to find a recipe with specific measurements. Most Bahamians just freehand it, but as a beginner i wouldnt DARE lol. Thanks for posting.

    • Elga permalink
      June 23, 2013 7:28 am

      Paige, I have been married for 5 years and like you I have been trying Johnny cake recipes with no specific measurements, and none ever came out as good as this one. This is definitely a keeper.

      • foododelmundo permalink
        June 23, 2013 11:33 am

        Awe *shucks* thank you Elga! /Mary

    • February 15, 2014 9:11 am

      I second that.. I just made some stew lobster and I’m trying this johnny cake recipe

  7. March 9, 2010 1:47 pm

    Palm trees, tropical breezes and a local lady like Edna. What a wonderful memory. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. March 10, 2010 3:18 pm

    This looks so light and delicious! I love finding simple quick bread recipes like this one, can’t wait to give it a try!

  9. March 12, 2010 4:21 pm

    What a great bread er, I mean cake. I so so love recipes like this, think I’ll make it for lunch tomorrow!

  10. Island Girl Provo permalink
    April 27, 2010 2:32 pm

    We also love johnny cake down here in Turks & Caicos Islands and I’ve decided to try my hand at it today for my new family. I am glad to follow a nice recipe that also make it look simple 🙂

  11. CuteCammy permalink
    April 16, 2011 9:50 pm

    I tried this the Bahamian Johnny Cake recipe this evening with chicken souse. My Johnny Cake came out fantastic!!! My family so enjoyed it! Excellent recipe Edna! Thanks so much!!!

    • foododelmundo permalink
      April 17, 2011 9:53 am

      Fabulous! Thanks for coming back and letting me know!
      ~ Mary

  12. September 10, 2011 1:30 pm

    You shouldn’t laugh at Edna – she probably learned to make johnny cake to feed a family of 10 or more, and didn’t use measuring cups, but measured by the feel / eye.
    Thanks for the recipe. just what i was looking for. (ditto to paigeturner)

  13. george roberts permalink
    October 3, 2011 8:15 am

    Me & wife were just in Nassau in May of this year..great food,also my wife is fom Freeport,Grand,Bahamas in Hunters..we went like 3 time last year!! AWESOME FOOD & DRINKS..LOL!

  14. Lawson permalink
    November 23, 2011 12:10 am

    Johnny bread is the best with Sheep tongue souse!! YEASSS!!! i make Johney Bread by free had watchin my grammy fa all dem years, no one really know how much to put but when it comes out you’ll know lol!!!!!!

  15. Conchislandgal permalink
    January 19, 2016 2:19 pm

    The recipe is authentically Bahamian which is a rarity, as many “authentic” recipes touting traditional are not. As a Bahamian born and raised perhaps you don’t understand the cultural nuances of Edna and the other locals who seem to be caricatures of the black sliver screen era.; blackface dolls.


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