Bread/ Breakfast & Brunch/ Desserts & Treats/ Jamaican

Bulla Cake

January 22, 2023 (Last Updated: January 24, 2023)

Bulla Cake is a warmly spiced doughy treat with a burst of molasses flavour complemented by ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Cure your sweet tooth with this delicious Caribbean treat that can be enjoyed whenever, wherever!

jamaican bulla cake.

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Bulla Cake is a warmly spiced and popular Jamaican treat with a burst of molasses flavour complemented by ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Cure your sweet tooth with this delicious Caribbean treat that can be enjoyed with avocado (pear), cheese or butter, whenever, wherever!

For more Jamaican sweet bread recipes, try my delicious Coco Bread and Jamaican Festival Recipe or Jamaican Fried Dumpling next! 

jamaican bulla cake and cheese in brown hands.

Bulla Cake

Some of my greatest childhood memories include Jamaican bulla cake. Growing up, we would visit the local Caribbean/W.I. food market and bulla was always on the shopping list. On the car ride home, my mom would always break off a piece and give to us in the back seat of the car. It was always received with bright eyes and excitement because it was our kind of treat. Bulla to a Caribbean child is what donuts are to a North American child! All this being said, homemade bulla cake fresh out the oven is nothing compared to store-bought!

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Simple to Prepare – this snack is super common because it’s so easy to make. Also, the ingredients are cheap (if you don’t already have them stocked in your pantry).
  • Diet Friendly – this egg-free baked dessert can easily be made vegan too!
  • Kid Friendly – maybe it’s the sweetness or the chewy texture… whatever the reason, children really love this soft cookie-like treat.
  • Perfect Grab and Go Snack – make a batch for family and pack them up for school, camp, and extracurricular activities.
bulla cakes on wooden board.

What is Bulla Cake?

Bulla cake, also called bulla, is a classic Jamaican snack that’s like a cross between a spiced cookie and sweet bread. These beloved flat, circular cakes are a popular Jamaican pastry because they’re inexpensive and just so good. Not to mention, they are very shelf stable and take a while to spoil.

The History of Bulla Cake

Today, you can find bulla cake packaged and on shelves but its roots date back to enslaved people in Jamaica. Enslaved people working on sugar plantations needed nutritious food to keep them full for extended periods of time. Using molasses, a sugar cane byproduct, flour, and pineapple or coconut extract, they created bulla cake.

But it’s not just popular on this island. Other Caribbean countries like Haiti and Trinidad have their own bulla cake variations.

a stack of jamaican bulla cakes.

What You Need To Make This Bulla Cake Recipe

  • Measuring Spoons and Cups – to accurately measure wet and dry ingredients.
  • Mixing Bowls – to mix and contain wet and dry mixtures.
  • Whisk – to thoroughly mix dry ingredients until incorporated.
  • Wooden Spoon – to combine wet and dry ingredients before dough is fully formed.
  • Baking Sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat – to bake without the cakes sticking to the sheet.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

  • All Purpose Flour – this provides structure.
  • Baking Powder – this ensures the cakes are light and fluffy.
  • Baking Soda – this leavening agent ensures the bulla cakes rise.
  • Spices – I used a delicious, aromatic blend of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and ground allspice.
  • Salt – mellow the sweetness of the sugar and molasses with this. It really makes the other flavours pop.
  • Molasses – this gives the cake that distinct golden brown hue it’s known for. It also provides natural sweetness.
  • Vanilla Extract – to balance the other flavours.
  • Brown Sugar – this adds sweetness and moisture.
  • Unsalted Butter – melted, this also adds moisture to the cakes.
  • Water – use this to combine the wet ingredients and liquify the brown sugar.
bulla ingredient flatlay.
Bulla Cake Ingredients

How to Make Jamaican Bulla Cake

Prepare Materials

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

Combine Dry Ingredients

In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and whisk together until well combined.

Combine Wet Ingredients

In another large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, molasses and water. Make space in the center of your dry ingredients, pour in your wet mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft and slightly sticky dough has started to form.

Form Dough Balls

Turn out the mixture onto a well floured and clean surface and bring the dough together by kneading gently for a few minutes or until a smooth dough ball forms.

Roll the Dough and Form Cakes

Roll out the dough to about a 1/2 – 1 inch thickness and cut out circles using either a large biscuit cutter or medium sized round bowl.

Bake and Serve

Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Once baked, brush with melted butter and let cool. Finally, serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • Don’t confuse baking powder and baking soda. This bulla cake recipe uses both for different reasons and the measurements are different.
  • Pay attention to the texture of the dough. You want it a little sticky but not too tacky and soft. Accurately measure all of your ingredients and this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Don’t roll the dough too thin. Otherwise, you’ll end up with bulla chips. The appeal of this treat is the thickness.
  • Time to bake. These bulla cakes bake fairly quickly, you should keep an eye on them (around the 10-minute mark) as they can easily dry out if baked too long.

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

  • Vegan – instead of dairy butter, use vegan butter.
  • Gluten-Free – use gluten-free all purpose flour instead of the regular stuff.
  • Ginger – if you want this recipe to have a stronger gingery flavour, use freshly grated ginger.
  • Fruit – for a touch of tropical flavour, consider adding a teaspoon of banana or coconut extract. You can also use almond essence/extract.
a stack of jamaican bulla cakes.

How to Eat Bulla Cake

Jamaicans traditionally eat bulla cake with pears (avocados), cheese, or butter. All three options are the perfect sweet and savoury pairing. But, if you want to try something a little out of the box, here are some other ideas:

  • Candied Ginger – play up that ginger flavour by topping them with this!
  • Powdered Sugar – jazz this simple snack up a bit by dusting freshly baked cakes with this.
  • Chocolate Frosting/Jam – coat them with chocolate or place some at the center and make it a sandwich.

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

Yes! Make bulla cake up to 2 days before serving, although I’m sure you won’t be able to resist indulging before!

Storage Instructions

Bulla cake lasts 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature. For longer storage, place them in the fridge.

broken in half bulla cakes in hand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does bulla cake taste like?

Bulla cakes taste similar to ginger snap or molasses cookies. They are soft and sweet with a subtle warm spiciness.

Is bulla cake healthy?

Vegan and gluten-free options certainly make it a healthier snack. But just like any other dessert, these should be eaten in moderation.

How is bulla made?

Bulla is made by combining wet and dry ingredients into a dough, flattening then shaping it into thick discs. It is then baked at 350°F for 12-15 minutes (depending on thickness).

Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!

jamaican bulla cake.

Bulla Cake

Bulla Cake is a warmly spiced doughy treat with a burst of molasses flavour complemented by ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Cure your sweet tooth with this delicious Caribbean treat that can be enjoyed whenever, wherever!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast & Brunch, Desserts & Treats
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 6 servings
Calories 482 kcal

Equipment

  • Measuring Spoons and Cups
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Whisk
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Baking Sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar packed
  • 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter (60g), melted
  • 2 tbsp Molasses
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Water

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and whisk together until well combined.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, molasses and water. Make space in the center of your dry ingredients, pour in your wet mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft and slightly sticky dough has started to form. Turn out the mixture onto a well floured and clean surface and bring the dough together by kneading gently for a few minutes or until a smooth dough ball forms.
  • Roll out the dough to about a 1/2 – 1 inch thickness and cut out circles using either a large biscuit cutter or medium sized round bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  • Once baked, brush with melted butter and let cool. Serve and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Time to bake. These bulla cakes bake fairly quickly, you should keep an eye on them (around the 10-minute mark) as they can easily dry out if baked too long.
Pay attention to the texture of the dough. You want it a little sticky but not too tacky and soft. Accurately measure all of your ingredients and this shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t roll the dough too thin. Otherwise, you’ll end up with bulla chips. The appeal of this treat is the thickness and this is up to preference. If you prefer a thicker bulla roll until about an inch to an inch and a half thick.
For additional notes and recipe tips see blog post above.

Nutrition

Calories: 482kcalCarbohydrates: 99gProtein: 7gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 312mgPotassium: 247mgFiber: 2gSugar: 50gVitamin A: 178IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 130mgIron: 4mg
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jamaican bulla cakes.

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