Friday, August 04, 2006

Bajan Sweet Bread – A Dense Coconut Bread from Barbados

Bajan (“bay-junn”) is the Creole dialect spoken in Barbados, a mixture of West African and English that apparently sounds like a Liverpool accent.

This recipe has been sitting in my To Bake pile for a long time, waiting for a can of evaporated milk to materialize in my cupboard. The can appeared this weekend, so I baked the little devil.

When it came out of the oven, I was disappointed. It tasted like a sponge. I thought miserably: This is what I poured 2 1/2 cups of grated coconut into?

But I can’t bring myself to throw out edible bread, so I dragged it to work the next day, and miserably sat down to eat it for lunch.

And it tasted fantastic. The day after that, it tasted even better. And by the third day, I was actually looking forward to it. After that, it started getting a bit stale – but this is certainly a bread that should be allowed to cool a few days.

Bajan Sweet Bread
Makes 2 loaves

2½ cups grated coconut
4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
11/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp almond extract

Grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350 (F).

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, coconut, sugar, and raisins. In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter, egg, evaporated milk, and almond extract. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, divide in half (the dough will be very thick), and place in pans.

Bake until golden, about 1 hour. Let cool completely.

3 comments:

Laura Rebecca said...

I love when food gets better with age. I don't know why except perhaps that it's the opposite of what you'd expect.

Tanna said...

That is odd perhaps but so often true.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the problem with your coconut bread not tasting great right out of the oven is your recipe. It's missing many of the ingredients that are used to give the bread so much flavor.

Try this instead.

1 grated coconut
3/4 cup coconut water retained from the coconut
1/2 lb. granulated sugar
1/2 lb. brown sugar
1/2 lb. melted butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon mixed essence
1 1/2 lbs of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, and nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Far.
Lightly grease and flour baking pans unless you are using nonstick pans.

In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time beating in until smooth. Add the essences, coconut, coconut water and raisins.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder spices and salt. Add these dry ingredients gradually to the wet ones, stirring well after each addition. Spoon the mixture into the pans.
Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until tester comes out clean and breads are golden brown. Brush the tops of the bread with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of hot water as soon as you take them out of the oven. (You can add some cinnamon, and nutmeg to the sugar and water mixture for added flavor if you like)

This recipe is what my family has always used. We vary it slightly by sometimes using self-risng flour. We also retain about a 1/4 cup of the coconut, add some sugar, spices and enough coconut water to moisten the mixture. We then cut a slit lengthwise along the top of the bread before baking and insert the coconut mixture into the slit, then we bake the bread.

Trust me when I tell you that from the minute the bread comes out of the oven, there is a lineup of family members waiting to devour it, because not only is the aroma heavenly, but it's also delicious!