All over the English-speaking Caribbean, you can find “Bakes”. This iconic little bread’s name is a misnomer. Unlike the name suggests, this homey, slightly sweet bread is fried to a golden brown perfection and not baked as the name may imply. In Guyana, Bakes are often made for a breakfast and are traditionally served with a tasty serving of salted codfish. Probably of simple origins, this fried bread would have been a substantial start to the day.
Similar to the “Bake” is the “Float”. The difference is that the “Bake” is the richer cousin since the “Float” is a simpler fried dough with no fat added. Both are delicious vehicles for carrying fillings such as salted cod cooked with onions, spices, peppers & tomatoes, corned beef, or cheese.
The Portuguese brought their love and use of salted fish to Guyana. Bacalao, was an economical way of preserving codfish. The heavily salted fish can last for ages without refrigeration and can be reconstituted by soaking in water for use in many delicious dishes. Today, salted cod-fish still remains a favorite in many parts of the world. The texture and taste being different from fresh fish. Its versatility allows it to be used in many different preparations.
I have been using my mother’s wonderful recipe for years and have finally put it into written measures. As per habit, I have been so accustomed to recipes handed down through 2 generations with notations such as ” a pinch of this”, “a dash of that”, “smidgens” and “bits” which actually have no set value. My 13-year-old daughter, who is a “budding chef”, and has claims on my handwritten recipe collection has asked me to formalize my measures. This was a good occasion to share this family favorite. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has for a few generations.
Makes 8 Bakes
2 cups All-purpose Flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Crisco
2 Tbsp margarine
3/4 cup water
Cover with a damp paper towel and leave to rest for 30 mins.
Make each section into a ball and then flatten each one into a 2 1/2″ round. It should be about 1/8″ thick.
Heat 3 cups of canola oil in a heavy, medium-size casserole. When the oil is ready, immerse 2 bakes at a time into the hot oil. Turn the bakes over after 2-3 minutes or when the underside is golden. Continue cooking the reverse side, then remove, drain excess oil and put onto a plate with several sheets of absorbent paper. continue the process until you have fried all of the bakes.
Note that if the oil is too hot, the bakes will brown very quickly and will remain raw in the middle. After the first round of cooking, lower the heat to avoid this. you can always raise the heat if the temperature drops too low.
1 lb salted cod fillet approx, de-salted and shredded
1 medium onion chopped or 1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 hot pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 large tomato, chopped
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp margarine
In a large Fry pan, add oil and fry the garlic, shallots, and hot peppers. when the shallots or onions are translucent; about 3-4 minutes, add the tomatoes, margarine and shredded codfish.
Add 1/4 tsp black pepper and thyme leaves. Stir together well. Cook on medium heat until tomatoes have melted. Remove from heat and add to a serving bowl. Add chopped parsley and drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil.
Serve with warm bakes and hard-boiled eggs. When avocados are in season, an avocado is a perfect addition. It may be eaten with also with your favorite cheese and jam.