The Triton


Crew’s Mess: Guava Duff


Crew’s Mess: by Capt. John Wampler

I have been running yachts throughout the Bahamas for over 35 years. When it comes to regional cuisine, there is nothing better than pigeon peas and rice, cracked or scorched conch, chicken souse or fresh fish.

All of these items may be obtained all year long. But my favorite of the Bahamian delights is a dessert called Guava Duff.

In the early years when I started working in the Bahamas, this delicacy could only be had when the fruit ripened in the late summer months. Now, with guava’s popularity, a canned paste can be used year-round, though the fresh fruit variety is my favorite.

When in Nassau, the Poopdeck and Green Parrot serve up duff, the latter being my favorite. Or, you may follow the instructions below and make your own while out-island.

Ingredients of filling

  • 4 cups guava flesh, thinly sliced or cut (peeled and seeded; remove pulp and set aside for sauce)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (adjust according to sweetness of the guavas used)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation of filling

Guava Duff

Cook guava flesh with nutmeg, sugar and salt in medium saucepan on medium-low heat until thick and soft, and sugar is dissolved (about 25-30 minutes).

Let cool and set aside in refrigerator until ready to spread in dough. This can be made a day in advance.

Ingredients of guava sauce

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 can sweet condensed milk
  • 1/2 to 1 cup guava pulp (saved from the guavas)
  • Rum or brandy to taste

Preparation of guava sauce

Cream the butter and sugar well. Blend in powdered sugar and add sweet milk. Stir in pulp, rum or brandy, and vanilla, then set aside.

This may seem like it will be too sweet, but it actually isn’t. If you are in doubt, decrease the amount of sugar and taste. You can always add more as needed.

Ingredients of dough

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preparation of dough

Before making the dough, get a large pot/pan with cover – one that can fit your duff and is ovenproof – and fill halfway with hot water.

Preheat oven to 350 F and place pot/pan in oven while the dough is prepared.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. In larger bowl, blend sugar, eggs and butter. Add milk to combine and mix dry ingredients.

At this point, I mix some of the guava flesh into the dough. You can skip this part and just use it for the filling only.

Knead until stiff. Add more flour if necessary to make a smooth dough. If you want to make 2 small duffs, just cut dough in half and proceed with the instructions for the duff.

Take a rolling pin and roll out dough in rectangular shape (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness).

Spread the rest of the guava flesh (from the fridge) on the dough to within an inch of each side, then roll up duff and seal the edges.

In the old days, the duff would be wrapped tightly in a pillow case or old white T-shirt. Today, we cut a large piece of parchment paper and double foil.

Wrap the duff in the parchment first and then seal with the double foil. (Double foil simply means to cut 2 large pieces of foil and lay one on top of the other to create a thicker piece of foil).

Place duff in pot/pan in oven and cover. The water has to be halfway up the duff, or completely covering the duff.

Cook for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Turn the duff halfway through cooking if the water is only partially covering it. If the duff is completely immersed,  there is no need to turn it. This procedure can also be done on top of the stove by boiling the duff in a double boiler.

When done, remove the duff from the pot/pan and open it – being careful of the steam so you don’t get burned. Let it cool until it is nice and warm.

To ensure that the duff is done, stick a knife in it – if it comes out clean, it is done. If the knife comes out with sticky dough on it, wrap the duff back up and cook it for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Slice as thin or as thick as you like, then  pour warm guava sauce over the duff.


Capt. John Wampler ( has worked on yachts for more than 30 years. His recipes are casual enough for anyone to prepare. Comments are welcome below.

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