OK, so I can’t travel to Antigua right now. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But I can imagine myself on an Antiguan beach tucking into a breakfast of salt fish, eggplant and Sunday Bread.
I don’t eat that much white bread at home – our staple fare is more the rye sourdough that I make weekly – but I’ll make an exception for this Antiguan luxury version, which uses shortening to make it very puffy and soft. I’ve started with a recipe from a Caribbean Cookbook by Freda Gore, which comes by way of food website Cooking Sense. I’ve reduced the quantities by around a third (this is only for a household of two right now) and reduced the water further, because the dough would have been far too wet without this. I’ve also modified the order slightly by blending the shortening in at the end of the mixing process in the way the French do for making brioche.
Warning: this isn’t a complex bake, but you need to handle the dough very gently: any rough treatment on this kind of bread risks a collapse.
- 25g sugar
- 10g yeast
- 400 ml warm water (around 40℃)
- 10g salt
- 600g strong white flour
- 125g vegetable shortening (Stork or Trex in the UK, I believe the U.S. equivalent is Crisco), at room temperature
- 30g butter, at room temperature
- In a small bowl, mix sugar, yeast and water; leave for a few minutes until frothy.
- Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes
- Mix the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer, then pour in your wet mix
- Mix gently with the dough hook or with a wooden spoon until combined. Make sure that you’ve taken the flour from the bottom of the bowl and blended it in.
- One third at a time, add the butter/shortening and mix on medium speed with the dough hook until most of it has been incorporated.
- The dough should come off the sides of the bowl pretty easily now. Form it into a ball with your hands and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until approximately doubled in size.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and give it a brief knead, stretching one surface of the dough and tucking the sides into the bottom, before transferring it back to the bowl.
- Leave to rise again until pillowy and soft. Some time during this, switch on your oven to 190℃ fan.
- Line a baking tray with a silicone sheet.
- Transfer the dough back to your floured board. Cut it into two pieces, then take a small piece of the end of each.
- Form each large piece into a loaf, again stretching the surface and tucking it underneath, being extra careful to preserve the airiness. Transfer your loaves to the silicone sheet.
- Roll each small piece into a long thin cylinder, then use this to create a decoration of your choice.
- Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Brush lightly with a little water.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Use your favourite test for done-ness: hitting the back and seeing what it sounds like, poking a skewer in, or just your sense of taste and colour.
- Cool on a rack.