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A Guava Dessert For Moms Who Are Impossibly Sweet

guava duff cake

This recognisable super-fruit, the guava, is one of the few indigenous fruits to the Bahamas preceding the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Entirely edible from its yellow skin to its signature soft pink or white centre, even the guava’s seeds are utilised in some recipes, often adding texture to the jams and pastries they enhance. These splendid fruits are plentiful on our islands and are considered vitamin power-houses, dense in nutrient properties like vitamins A, B1, B6, and fibre. If you’re searching for them, you can often find guavas at local farmers’ markets in Nassau or growing organically in public parks, on residential properties, or road-side- if you’re lucky enough to snag one in time before someone else spots it!

Origins Of This Famed Guava Dessert

a pile of fruit
Credit: Repeating Islands

For us Bahamians, as much as we enjoy this fruit in its pure form, the most common and celebrated way to eat guava is in our famed “guava duff”. This traditional Bahamian recipe combines guava fruit, a sweet dough and a special rum or brandy butter sauce to drizzle on top. The recipe also employs the unique cooking method of steaming the dough (or “duff” as we say), similar to the preparation for a British pudding and pointing at our heritage as a former colony. Guava Duff is decadent and often times reserved for special occasions, making it a perfect treat to serve up this Mother’s Day and we’ve shared one of our favourite recipes below.

Experimental home bakers beware– this recipe is very involved but oh so worth the effort! But, if liquid celebration is more Mom’s style, we’ve also got you covered with a fresh guava cocktail(courtesy of Tru Bahamian Tours’ Guide, Murray) you can whip up in seconds.

Bahamian Guava Duff Recipe

guava duff cake
Credit: Cooked Earth

This recipe is derived from the 1986 edition of the Bahamian cookbook: Rake ‘N’ Scrape In De Kitchen. It is titled Surprise Guava Delight from the kitchen of Vernice Cooper. Enjoy!

Guava Duff Ingredients:
12 guavas, peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice, ground
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

Fresh Guava Substitutions:
canned guava shells
guava jam
frozen guava pulp

Rum/Brandy Butter Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp boiling water; dash of salt
2 tbsp rum or brandy to taste

Guava Duff Directions:
Peel guavas, cut in half and remove seeds. Dice the fruit and strain to remove juice. Save juice to flavour sauce if desired. Put fruit in saucepan with water to cover; add sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Simmer until fruit is soft. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening. Stir in milk and egg to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Roll out like a jelly roll on a floured board. Place the guava pieces on the center of the dough and roll over until the dough is spiralled with guava. Seal edges carefully. Wrap dough in a cotton or linen bag, or foil and parchment paper, tie the top securely and put into a large pot of boiling water for 1 hour or more if necessary to set the duff.

Rum/Brandy Butter Directions:
Cream butter until soft but not melted. Beat confectioners sugar in gradually. Add boiling water, salt and rum or brandy. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

Serving Suggestions:
Cut the guava duff loaf into one inch wide slices and dollop a tablespoon of the rum/brandy butter over top to melt down and soak into the steamed, sweet duff. Ahh, delicious!