Barbados River Bellies

barbados river bellies recipe
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Who can remember these river cakes or river bellies as a child?
Try our Bajan River Bellies recipe. Eat them anytime of the day.

I could remember the river cakes at Lyton”s bakeries in Baxter”s Rd . We uses to fight for dem.

Bev Stanf


For the dough

1 tablespoon active dried yeast
75 ml of warm water
85 g caster sugar, plus 1 teaspoon extra
170 ml milk
60 g lard or butter
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
675 g flour white or whole wheat
vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons melted
unsalted butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup

For the filling

1 lb/5 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 a teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 a teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed essence or vanilla extract
a few drops of red food coloring


To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl.

Mix in the 1 teaspoon of sugar, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

Warm the milk until nearly boiling, add the lard or butter, and sugar. When the fat has melted and sugar dissolved, remove from the heat and let it cool until warm, then stir in the yeast and vanilla extract.

Slowly work in the flour with your index finger until a soft dough forms. Turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough ball in a large mixing bowl greased with a small amount of vegetable oil and turn it around to oil all sides of the dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for at least 1 and a half hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down, cut in half and cover and leave for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5) and combine all the ingredients for the filling, except for the red food coloring, in a mixing bowl. Add enough drops of the food coloring to turn the mixture bright red.

Roll each half of the dough into a rectangle about 1 cm (1/2 in) thick and measuring about 25 x 33 cm (10 x 13 in). Brush with the melted butter. Smooth half of the filling mixture over each of the rectangles but not right up to the ends.

Roll the dough up lengthwise and seal the edges and leave to prove for 45 minutes.

Brush the rolls with golden syrup and bake for 25–30 minutes.

Recipe Submitted by Good Old Bajan Cooking Group.

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