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  • Writer's pictureV Blackmoore

A Culinary Delight: Unraveling the Story of Caribbean Bakes

In the vibrant tapestry of Caribbean cuisine, few dishes stand out as both a symbol of tradition and a testament to the region's diverse flavors quite like "Bakes." These delectable treats have woven themselves into the daily fabric of Caribbean meals, offering a delightful fusion of history, culture, and taste.



A Brief History of Bakes:

The journey of Bakes traces back to the culinary heritage of the Caribbean, where the fusion of African, European, and indigenous influences has birthed a rich and varied gastronomic landscape. Originally, Bakes were a simple yet ingenious creation – a mixture of flour, salt, and water, fried to golden perfection. The concept of frying dough transcends cultures, but it was the Caribbean that truly embraced it, turning it into a culinary cornerstone.


As Caribbean communities evolved and interconnected through history, Bakes evolved with them. The dish became a staple, a versatile canvas upon which the vibrant flavors of the region could be expressed. From the shores of Trinidad and Tobago to the sun-soaked beaches of Jamaica, Bakes became a unifying thread in the diverse culinary tapestry of the Caribbean.


Versatility on the Plate:

What makes Bakes in Dominica truly exceptional is their adaptability. These crispy delights serve as a blank canvas for a multitude of culinary creations. They can be enjoyed as a breakfast staple, paired with saltfish for a classic Dominican morning feast, or embraced as a savory side dish alongside a variety of main courses.


Variations Across the Archipelago:

One of the enchanting aspects of Bakes lies in its regional diversity. Each island puts its own unique spin on this beloved dish, resulting in a medley of names and flavors.


In Barbados, you'll encounter "Flying Fish Cutters" – a local take on bakes, filled with succulent pieces of flying fish, a culinary treasure of the region. Meanwhile, in Saint Lucia, the "Floats" take center stage, typically served with saltfish or smoked herring.

Jamaica boasts its own version called "Festival," which is often enjoyed with fried fish or jerk chicken. This sweet, fried dough adds a delightful contrast to the island's bold and spicy flavors.


Regardless of the name or filling, the essence of Bakes remains consistent – a crispy, golden exterior enveloping a warm, doughy interior that embodies the heart and soul of the Caribbean.



Social and Cultural Significance:

Beyond their culinary appeal, Bakes hold social and cultural significance in Dominica. From family gatherings to festive celebrations, the aroma of frying bakes wafting through the air is a sensory signal that good times are about to be shared. These golden gems often find their way into beach outings, and local Saturday markets, making them an integral part of daily life on the island.


A Nod to Tradition in Modern Times:

In a world that continually evolves, Bakes in Dominica remain a steadfast nod to tradition. Whether enjoyed in the heart of Roseau or savored on the pristine beaches of Portsmouth, each bite is a connection to the culinary heritage that defines Dominica. It's a taste of the past, present, and future—a delicious journey through the flavors that make this Caribbean gem so unique. So, the next time you find yourself in Dominica, don't miss the opportunity to savor the crispy perfection of these Bakes, a true culinary treasure of the Nature Isle.


Bakes Beyond Borders:

As the Caribbean diaspora has spread its wings across the globe, so too has the love for Bakes. Caribbean communities in North America, the United Kingdom, and beyond have embraced and adapted this beloved dish, introducing it to new audiences while preserving the authenticity of its roots.


In the hustle and bustle of modern life, bakes offer a comforting reminder of tradition and a delicious journey through the history of the Caribbean. So, whether you're savoring a "Bry Bake" in Trinidad, a "Festival" in Jamaica, or a "Bakes" in Dominica, each bite is a celebration of the vibrant and dynamic culture that defines the heart of the Caribbean culinary experience.



Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup water (lukewarm)

1/2 cup milk (lukewarm)


Preparation

  1. Combine the dry ingredients together. 

  2. In another bowl combine water, milk and melted butter.

  3. Create a hole in the flour mix and gradually pour in the liquid mixture.

  4. Use a wooden spoon to start combining the flour and liquid mixture.

  5. Once the mixture starts getting firm, start kneading the dough 

  6. If the dough is too soft and sticky, sprinkle an additional tbsp of flour and continue kneading. 

  7. Form your dough into a ball. It should be smooth and easily pull away from your fingers. 

  8. Let stand for at least 20 minutes. 

  9. Pre-heat oil in a large pan. 

  10. Pull apart golf ball size pieces from the dough. Roll between your palm then flatten into discs. 

  11. Place into hot oil and fry until golden brown on each side. 


Serve plain or with your choice of stuffing

This recipe yields approximately 8 bakes.




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