Sweet Bread: ‘Tis the Season for a Taste of the Caribbean

Black Cake, Ponche de Creme, Coquito, Rum Balls – all wonderful Holiday Season treats from my Trini/Crucian heritage that my family has spent the past few weeks enjoying in the run-up to Christmas Day…

Well, most of my family anyway.

In truth, the grown-ups have been doing virtually all the enjoying. Why? This recent question from one of my sons illustrates the answer:

Does all Christmas food from the Caribbean have rum in it?

Hmm… I must admit, this one stumped me initially. It’s true, and I’m sure no surprise to good friends and frequent UC readers, that all my favorite Caribbean Christmas eats and drinks do feature rum as a primary ingredient. Still, there are a few, like the Trini-style Sweet Bread pictured above, that are kid- and teetotaler-friendly.

Like Black Cake in the Caribbean and Fruit Cake most everywhere else, Sweet Bread is packed with all kinds of fruits. The main one here, coconut, is so prevalent that the dish is often referred to as Coconut Sweet Bread. Tell-tale Holiday Season baking favorites like cherries, currants, raisins, and candied citrus peels are all in there too.

Now, you can add rum to your Sweet Bread as well, but for the sake of my hungry son (he’s only 8), let’s focus on the non-alcoholic recipe, shall we? Here’s how you make it…

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 cup Water or Milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup Mixed Peel
  • 1 cup Raisins
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Margarine
  • 1 Coconut, grated
  • 1 tsp Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 cup Cherries
  • 1/2 cup Currants

Mix the coconut and sugar in a bowl with a little water. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Next, add vanilla essence, bitters, and margarine.

In a separate bowl, sift your dry ingredients (baking powder, flour), then add to the first mixture, adding the remaining water in the process to make a soft dough.

Don’t knead it, though!

Now, add your fruits and mixed peel to the doughy mix and pour it into a baking pan. Bake at 350-degrees for 50 to 60 minutes and remove from oven.

You’re not done, so don’t turn the oven off just yet!

Mix a little sugar and water to make a syrup. Baste it on your Sweet Bread and return it to the hot oven for another three or four minutes. Remove (you can turn off the oven now), let cool, and enjoy with some hot tea or coffee in the morning, or as a nice dessert snack anytime.

The recipe comes from the one and only Caribbean Cookbook you’ll ever need (besides this one). To order a copy, visit our online store here.

Happy Holidays!

Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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