If you go to any of the Caribbean islands (or Guyana) you are bound to see bake and saltfish as a breakfast item on the menu at a restaurant or at a native persons home. I grew up eating this for breakfast on Sunday mornings with my family. My mom and uncle Junior make the best bakes I've tasted. My mom cooks hers slightly darker and is a bit sweeter, my uncles is fried to a lighter brown and is slightly salty.
Bake is a type of fried bread that can be eaten with almost anything, jams, jellies, corned beef/mutton, saltfish, even vegetable dishes such as sauteed okra or tomato choka. It is also delicious just by itself. Natives from every island prepare these delicious fried breads in varying methods. In Guyana, we make them round and medium sized, about 4-5 inches in diameter. My mom used to cut them into triangles sometimes to make them look pretty.
Some people make them so that they have huge air pockets in the center so that they can be stuffed, while others make them a little more dense. I like them both ways. My mom used to make them with the huge air pocket in the center, but whenever I felt for a more dense kind, I always bought it from Sybils (a popular Guyanese bakery in Queens, NY). The kind that I have made for you is the more dense kind, I also made them slightly smaller since they are so filling.
I am not quite sure why bakes are called bakes, when they are actually fried. To my knowledge, the only bake that I know which is actually baked, is Trinidad and Tobago's coconut bake. My boyfriend, who is from Trinidad, bought this for me for breakfast one day and it was heavenly! It was quite dense, even more than the bakes I've made today. We had it with buljol, which is what Trinidadians call their saltfish. The main difference is that they do not saute their buljol with tomatoes as we do in Guyana. I also noticed that it can be eaten cold. It's just a preference, but I definitely prefer my saltfish hot instead of cold.
I chose to serve these bakes with saltfish, because that's how I grew up eating it. It's a classic, this is just how you eat a Caribbean breakfast! Saltfish is known to many different cultures under different names. Hispanics know it as bacalao, Trinis know it as buljol, Americans know it as salted cod. Nonetheless, the end product is the same, flaked fish cooked up with lovely onions, peppers and possibly tomatoes.
Instructions for the Saltfish
Before cooking the fish, there is a de-salting process you must go through. Some people soak the fish overnight in water to remove some of the salt. I have chosen to boil the fish, drain, boil again to remove the salt. Follow along with my pictures to see how to make this wonderful, flavorful, and classic Caribbean breakfast dish!
Prep tomatoes and onions
Fry the flaked saltfish in onions for 10 minutes, turn heat off.
Now cook the tomato sauce separately
In a separate skillet make the tomato sauce for the saltfish
Add the saltfish to the tomato sauce...
So now that your bake and saltfish is done, this is what you do. Examine the bake.
admire its golden brown color...
slice it open carefully...
stuff the bake with the saltfish...
Bake and Saltfish
(makes about 10-12 bakes)
For the Bakes:
- 3 cups flour (substitute 1/2 cups whole wheat flour for a healthier option)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp white sugar
- 4 tbsp vegetable shortening such as Crisco (or butter)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
For the Saltfish:
- 1 lb boneless salted codfish
- 1 large beefsteak tomato or 4 plum tomatoes (all together you need 2 cups diced)
- 2 scallions
- 1 medium onion
- 1 wiri wiri pepper or small piece of scotch bonnet to suit your taste
- about 1 tbsp dry parsley
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp oil for frying saltfsh
- 2 tbsp olive oil for tomato sauce
For the Bakes:
- Heat oil to 315 degrees. While oil is heating you can prepare the dough.
- Add all of the ingredients except the water to a mixing bowl. With a fork, cut shortening into the flour until it turns to small pieces. Add water and bring together into a dough ball.
- Cover with a damp napkin. This will prevent your dough from forming a crust. Let it sit for about 1/2 hour.
- Flour a surface and place dough ball on surface. Cut dough ball in half and roll the halves into a log. Cut log into about 5 pieces.
- Roll each piece to about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thickness
- If you don't have a thermometer to temp the oil, just test by breaking a small piece of dough and putting it into the oil. If it immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.
- Fry until bakes are golden brown on each side.
For the Saltfish:
- Bring a pot with water to a rapid boil. Add saltfish and reduce to a medium boil. Boil for 15 minutes.
- Drain saltfish, do not rinse! Fill pot with water again and bring to a medium boil. Add drained saltfish and boil for 10 minutes.
- Drain saltfish and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Flake saltfish with a fork. Set aside.
- Chop onions and pepper. Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp oil to medium heat, add onions and pepper and fry till onions are tender and fragrant.
- Add saltfish and let it cook with the onions for about 10 minutes. Turning frequently.
- Chop tomatoes, garlic, and scallions.
- In another skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil and add tomatoes. Let it simmer for about 4 minutes then add chopped garlic and scallions. Let it cook on low heat until the tomatoes melt and start to resemble a sauce. Add the black pepper and parsley. Cook an additional 4 minutes until tomatoes have become liquid and tender.
- Add saltfish to tomato sauce and mix until it is completely incorporated.
- Leave it on the heat for about 6-8 minutes so some of the tomato liquid can evaporate. If you like your saltfish with more tomato juice then only leave it on for 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat, you're done!