Written by 7:09 pm Food

Tru Bahamian Must Eat: Johnny Cake

In the event you’re visiting our islands for a couple of days, likelihood is likely high that you simply’ll encounter a slice (or two or three) of our staple “Johnny Cake” sooner or later during your visit. It’s often spotted in local restaurants enclosed in a decent wrapping of wax paper or tin foil and sometimes you’ll find it on display in neighbourhood bakeries, where it’s available by the loaf- especially within the outer islands. While here, Bahamian Johnny Cake is a definite “must eat” and a highly advisable, delicious addition to your Bahamian culinary experience.

What is that this said Bahamian Johnny Cake, you could ask?

Although the “cake” inside the name naturally implies sweetness, Johnny Cake doesn’t fall inside the realm of a dessert by most measures. In truth, it’s actually more comparable to a bread, albeit not typically as light, airy or savoury as most varieties. In summary, most would describe Johnny Cake as having a texture that resembles a cross between a dense bread and a (only) barely sweet cake. Made with a handful of ingredients, namely: flour, milk, butter, sugar and baking powder, Johnny Cake in The Bahamas is traditionally baked in a big round pan until flippantly browned, then sliced and served in wedges.

a close up of a sandwich on a grill
Credit: Meats, Roots & Leaves

It seems that the historical origins of this beloved baked good are each varied and, it seems, somewhat as much as interpretation.

Most historians imagine that “johnny cake” originated from native inhabitants of Northern America and is regarded as related to the term “janiken”, a native American word meaning “corn cake”. With corn because the major staple for indigenous groups across the Americas, it is very likely that early European settlers of the mid-1500s began watching how regional tribes (just like the Algonquians of the Atlantic Seaboard) used ground corn to make such corn cakes. In consequence, plainly this cornmeal flatbread spread throughout the Americas and other names emerged to explain comparable to:shawnee cakejohnny bread, and hoecake in addition to variations on its preparation techniques.

Much has even be written to link the Johnny Cake we enjoy today in The Bahamas back to the times of the mid-Atlantic slave trade within the Southern United States. Incessantly then known as “journey cake”, this sturdy, dense loaf product of ground corn was useful because it kept well on long trips and might be easily revamped an open fire. The transition in name to “johnny cake” almost definitely took place within the 1760s, as that is when the food item began appearing inside written records. In the course of the 1780’s, the recipe was transported to The Bahamian islands when, in response to the American War of Independence, US Loyalists fled with their enslaved Africans to work on cotton plantations on our islands.

a piece of cake sitting on top of a pan on a table

Credit: Adventures In All Things Food

Lately, many countries and regions beyond The Bahamas still prepare some version of this easy yet highly versatile staple loaf.

Major differences only lie in the strategy of preparation and ingredient list. While our Bahamian Johnny Cake typically doesn’t include corn meal, this continues to be a key ingredient Johnny Cake recipes in other Caribbean islands in addition to Central & South America and along the Atlantic Coast of North America. In Jamaica, St. Croix, Columbia, and New England region of america,“johnny cakes” are literally prepared as small, flat, and fried griddle cakes. Bahamian Johnny Cake is generally not fried and as an alternative, families decide to bake theirs on top of the stove or in an oven.

a piece of cake on a plate
Credit: Sid’s Sea Palm Cooking

When It Comes To The Eating Part…

Johnny Cake is best served warm n’ straight out of the oven- then slathered liberally with butter and/or jam. (We recommend an area guava or mango variety.) It’s also commonly eaten with a couple of slices of mild yellow cheddar cheese for breakfast or a snack. However the slices of this down-home delicacy really show their stripes when served alongside Bahamian Chicken Souse or Stewed Fish for breakfast and weekend brunch. We use it to sturdily mop up all of that delicious and oh-so-flavourful broth. Sometimes grated coconut is baked into the Johnny Cake for much more special texture and extra sweetness. In reality, we’ll eat Johnny Cake at a possibility we will!

a close up of a sandwich and a cup of coffee
Credit: Tammy

Bahamian Johnny Cake Recipe

So, there you’ve gotten it. And although there may be much cultural variation as most Bahamian families bake their johnny cake in their very own special way, we actually couldn’t leave you without sharing a recipe so that you can try (or try to copy if you happen to’ve tasted it already) this comforting bread at home.


  • ½ cup butter, room temperature + extra for greasing pan
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • approx. ¾ cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Using an electrical mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until combined.
  3. Add the flour, water, salt, and baking powder to the bowl.
  4. Add the milk slowly until the batter is sticky.
  5. Dust hands with flour. Transfer dough from bowl to a greased 9×9 pan. Gently flatten the dough within the pan.
  6. Bake for approx. 1hr or until the perimeters of the johnnycake are browned. The johnnycake won’t rise much.
  7. Let cool for several minutes before cutting into the johnnycake.

This easy recipe will give you a warm, delicious addition to your breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner. Enjoy, and comfortable eating from all of us at Tru Bahamian Food Tours!

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