Taste of the Caribbean: It’s Just Not Easter Without Bun & Cheese
Christianity being the overwhelmingly dominant religion throughout the Caribbean, it stands to follow that the upcoming Easter Holiday is a big deal in most islands.
Check that: IT’S A VERY BIG DEAL in every Caribbean island I know.
Like the colorful Caribbean Christmas Holiday traditions we shared a few months ago, Easter in our islands means getting together with friends and family, taking part in special celebrations and enjoying a range of unique eats and drinks emblematic of the season. As we did at Christmas, we hope to share a few of those traditions with you throughout the coming weeks. First up is the yummy Jamaican treat pictured above. It’s called Easter Bun, and in Jamaica, Easter just isn’t Easter without it.
From my Trini-Crucian perspective, Jamaican Easter Bun is a happy medium between two favorites from my past – it’s sweet like the Sweet Bread I remember from St. Croix, though a bit heavier and not quite as rich, dense and gooey as the Cassava Pone I enjoy when visiting Tobago. Just the same, Jamaican Easter bun is absolutely delicious!
- 3-1/2 cups flour
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 4 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 cup stout or beer
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 2 tblsp. melted butter or margarine
- 2 tsps. vanilla
- 1 cup cherries
- 1 cup raisins, mixed peel, cherries*
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- pinch of salt
- 1 tblsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tblsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tblsp. rose water
- 1/2 tblsp. anise extract
In some cases, Easter Bun is loaded with a lot more fruits than the one here, which for me is perfectly understated with just raisins. Other Easter Buns are more like Fruit Cake, making it an ideal dessert, or snack food to enjoy on its own. That’s not to say people don’t jazz it up, employing cream cheese, butter, jams and other spreads according to varying tastes.
Undeniably, though, the most popular method of eating Easter Bun is sandwich-style with a nice slice of cheddar cheese in the middle.
Known as bun and cheese, it is THE #1 EASTER TREAT IN JAMAICA, and a delight worth making the effort to include as part of your Easter celebrations no matter where you call home.
To do so, check with your local West Indian grocery store or bakery. I found several varieties at Bedessee’s near my house in Fort Lauderdale. Better yet, bake your own! The store-bought Buns are good, but it’s unlikely they’ll contain the one ingredient that makes an authentic homemade Jamaican Easter Bun so special: Stout Beer.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, spices and sugar. Mix thoroughly and add fruit. Make a well in the center of mixture and add melted butter and beaten egg. Mix again until like coarse bread crumbs. Make another well in center of mixture and add beer or stout. Mix the whole thoroughly and turn into well greased baking pans. Bake for 1-1/4 hours at 300 ° F. Makes two meatloaf pans. If desired, press a few whole cherries into the top of each bun.
* One cup total. Combine fruit as desired.