…...Chef Ivana shares a bit about her favourite Bahamian culinary gems and offers her recipe for rich, fluffy and authentic Guava Duff
Bahamian cuisine is known for robust and complex flavours derived from onions, sweet peppers, thyme, garlic, tomatoes and other aromatic ingredients. Staples like fresh made conch salad, crispy fritters and fresh seafood may be on the “must try” list of most visitors, for good reason, but Bahamian desserts offer a unique taste of The Bahamas that should not be missed.
Chef Ivana Moncur is a talented pastry chef and entrepreneur, who has merged her extensive culinary background with tried and true Bahamian classics to create some unforgettable desserts. Check out her interview below where she shares a bit about Bahamian desserts, her favourite chefs, and where you can go to try some of the country’s best sweet treats.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and where others can try your culinary creations?
Chef Ivana: I am the Cake Artist/ Assistant Executive Pastry Chef at Atlantis [as well as] the owner of Tier Cake Loft and Bakehouse in The Bahamas. Bakehouse is my newest venture and I am very excited about it. At the moment, Bakehouse is a pop-up artisan bakery, featuring specialty doughnuts, cookies, croissants and other pastries. Tier Cake Loft is a custom wedding and specialty cake store.
Q: What has been your most memorable Bahamian dining or dessert experience?
Chef Ivana: My most memorable Bahamian dessert experience was at Sun & Ice Bahamas, located in The Coral at Atlantis . Sun & Ice is an authentically Bahamian ice cream and gelato parlour. The ice cream is hand crafted and seasonal, so, it’s perfect for someone like me who loves homegrown Bahamian flavours. Most ingredients are sourced from local farmers. The product is extremely unique and unforgettable. Two must have flavours are the “Well Muddoes”, which is a double chocolate gelato loaded with brownie pieces and chocolate fudge, and the “Auntie Mar,” which is a guava duff ice cream. Rich, creamy, flavourful and exotic are a few words I would use to describe the product.
Q: If you could choose only five staple cooking or baking ingredients to have in your home, what would they be and why?
Chef Ivana: Since I spend most of my time baking, these five ingredients are essential in my home.
1.Flour- Flour provides and builds structure for 90 % of the baked goods. The gluten found in flour creates the structure in breads, pastries, and cakes and many more. This would be the most essential ingredient in my kitchen.
2. Sugar- Sugar is extremely important in the baking and cooking process. Almost every baked item has sugar in
3. Eggs- Eggs act as the backbone in many baked goods and contribute to the structure. This is a major staple ingredient for me.
4. Yeast- Yeast has been my new obsession in the kitchen. This ingredient not only leavens dough and gives it a light, sponge like texture; it provides flavour, aroma and nutritional value.
5. Baking Powder- being that I am a cake artist, this item is very important in the execution of wedding cakes and birthday cakes. Baking powder increases the volume and lightens the texture of baked goods. It works by releasing carbon dioxide gas into the batter or dough.
Q: If you could recommend one must try dish or dessert while in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Chef Ivana: Guava duff is a must try Bahamian dessert while in The Bahamas. Guava Duff is a lightly steamed dough with pieces of guava topped with a warm butter sauce. This dessert is very nostalgic for many Bahamians. Growing up in a Bahamian home, guava duff was a staple dessert that was prepared often and served after dinner. I just remember as a little girl thinking how sweet and impactful the aroma would be while my mom or grandmother prepared it. And the taste is unforgettable! The dough [is] light and fluffy with a slightly dense bite. The exotic guava taste topped with a creamy rum butter sauce is a perfect combination.
Q: And lastly, can you name one of your favourite Bahamian chefs or culinary inspirations?
My husband, Chef Wayne Moncur, is my favourite Bahamian Chef and culinary inspiration. He has been in the industry for over 20 years. Some of his accolades include representing The Bahamas in the Culinary Olympics 2004 and 2008 and winning the Bahamas Cacique Chef of the Year Award 2006. He held the position as the Executive Chef at The One & Only Ocean Club. Currently, he is the Owner of Sun & Ice Bahamas. Over the years, he has encouraged me to pursue all of my culinary dreams, to be an innovator and maintain high standards.
Check our Chef Ivana’s decadent and delicious Guava Duff recipe, below, and be sure to check out her work on the Tier Cake Loft and Bakehouse Instagram pages.
4 oz. Shortening
4 oz. Butter
8 oz. Sugar
1-½ tsp. Baking Powder
2 cups Chopped Guavas
1 cup Milk or Water
Butter Rum Sauce
1-½ lbs. Butter
1-cup Powdered Sugar
1 can Condensed Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla
¼ cup Chopped Guava
1 tbsp. Dark Rum
Method of Preparation
In a stand mixer, with the dough hook attached, combine dry ingredients, butter, shortening and liquid.
Knead on medium speed until soft dough is formed, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Remove dough from the mixing bowl and place on a floured work surface.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle, about 1cm thick.
Place chopped guavas on the surface and spread evenly to cover the entire surface.
Roll up the dough carefully towards you to form a log. Seal the edges carefully to prevent filling from falling out.
Wrap the dough in several layers of parchment paper, loosely.
Wrap the dough in two layers of foil and twist both ends to secure close.
Place logs in a shallow pan with a shallow water bath.
Bake for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow to cool down.
Remove the foil and parchment paper. Cut as desired, approximately 1” thick.
Serve with sauce
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add condensed milk, vanilla, rum, and guavas until all are combined.