Most Caribbean countries have a version of the most amazing fried breads you’ll ever eat. It seems each country makes their fry bakes a little differently, but we’ve never had a bake we didn’t like!
Who knows why it is called “bakes” since it is slow cooked in a pan of oil…but Vincentians have one of the most unique dense versions of bakes out there!
There is nothing like waking up to the smell of cooking bakes…even dad who wouldn’t know what a sunrise looks like, will roll out of bed early to eat some fresh hot bakes! Grandma always knows what we like, and she is up at the crack of dawn practically spoiling us with this yummy Vincentian fare during a family gathering!
The Unique Flavors of Island Indian Food
Grandma H hails from St. Vincent, the windward islands of the West Indies. Not sure where that is? Imagine Miami, head southeast past the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, hop past Puerto Rico and down a line of small islands until you come to Barbados. Now take a quick sharp swing west…there you are. Welcome to the beautiful volcanic island of St. Vincent!
The food has the flavorful influences of East India combined with the delicious fare of the Caribbean. In our opinion, West Indian food is truly a tasty fusion of cultures. Quite a few of our dishes have a West Indian influence to it!
What Dishes Do I Serve With My Bakes?
Traditionally bakes are eaten with Salt Fish, but as a vegetarian or vegan it can be served with rice and beans, a “beef” and broccoli alternate, or any other savory dish. Cut it in half and eat it with a slice of cheese (vegan or vegetarian) or sweet guava cheese.
Grandma likes to make it with a tomato-based sauce with vegan crumbles for those of us who don’t eat Salt Fish. I think the combination something bright and something savory works really well for a non-sweet bread like this.
You may think the recipe is really no different than any other bread dough, but it isn’t the ingredients that make it… it is the technique and the method of cooking! So here are a couple tips Grandma shared with as she taught me to make her bakes.
When you pull the dough to form the bakes, make sure they are formed into rounds only 1/2 an inch thick. When they are fried they double in size.
Also be careful when pulling and kneading the dough! You don’t want to overwork it, otherwise the bake will become tough.
Heat about a 1/4″ worth of oil in your frying pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the dough rounds in the hot oil.
These will take a time to cook in that oil. It isn’t a true “frying” of the bakes since it is done on medium heat allowing the bread to cook. Once it is golden brown, flip it on the other side and cook.
When frying the bakes, some people fry just the top and bottom of it, while others fry the sides as well. We like to fry the sides of our bakes; I think it looks a little better with all the sides the brown and gives it a little more time to cook through properly, but its your choice. Just don’t neglect to put them on a paper towel to absorb any additional oil left on the outside.
Theses bakes are done! And the end result are large, thick, golden brown bakes. Yum! Granted, not the healthiest since it is fried, but great for those family reunions.
- 6 cups All-purpose flour
- 1 cup Brown sugar (Needs 1 cup plus 1 tbs)
- 1 tbs Baking powder
- 3 cups Warm water
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Almond milk
- 1 tbs Yeast
Combine flour, baking powder, and 1 cup of brown sugar.
In a separate bowl combine 1 cup warm water, salt, 1 tbs flour, 1 tbs brown sugar, and yeast. Let sit until foamy.
Pour yeast mixture into flour mixture and add 2 cups warm water, then mix. Add flour to dough until dough becomes smooth, adding about 1 1/2 cups of flour.
Sprinkle flour onto table and kneed dough once again until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Pinch off, shape, and fry until golden brown.