The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking in Barbados

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countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Baking in Barbados

Hello everyone!! I must first comment on how lovely a site this is! I'm a long time cake and cookie baker but I've just recently decided to try my hand at baking bread. I'm a Canadian who has just moved to Barbados for my fiance's work and have been looking for something to pass the days while my boy is out during the day :) I find store bought things to be quite expensive here so I figured it might save some moolah and be some good times. I tried a pizza dough recipe last night and made some flour tortillas today and had so much fun! Looking forward to trying my first loaf.



Any suggestions or tips I should keep in mind dealing with baking bread in the heat and humidity here? ...other than attempting not to get heat stroke in my kitchen when the oven is cranked up? :)


excited and thankful to have stumbled across this site,


Rose.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Welcome to TFL, Rose!


It sounds like you have come to the right site. 


Bread just seems to like a humid environment, so you're lucky on that point. If it's really hot outside, you may find it more comfortable to bake very early or very late in the day, before or after the sun has done its worst.


To get started baking bread, I would recommend keeping it simple. Mike Avery, a great baker and contributor to TFL, has a website that is generally about sourdough, a more advanced baking technique, but he also gives help on acquiring basic bread-baking skills. For example, try looking at this page about Basic Yeasted White Bread:


http://www.sourdoughhome.com/bakingintro3.html#windopane


I do have a slight quibble with Mike: I wish the measurements were in weight rather than volume, but the page is just so informative, I think you will learn a lot and it will help you to get started with confidence.


Good luck!


Soundman (David)


 


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Quite a jump from Canada to Barbados. One thing about baking anything that uses yeast is that it will work faster in warm climates. Here in Wisconsin every time the seasons change I have to completely rethink my times and start to look for warm places to ferment the dough. As David said above, I suggest keeping things simple for the start. This site is a wealth of information on a wide range of breads. There is a tutorial for your first loaf that is a good place to begin. Just look on the front page about half way down on the right side for Lessons. Here is the link to get you started.


One thing to keep in mind is that recipes will give amounts in different ways. Sometimes the amount will be a weight in ounces or grams, sometimes it will be in cups or Tablespoons (volume). The easiest way to be sure you are using the amount that the writer is suggesting is to use a digital scale. Using grams on an inexpensive scale will save much confusion and you will be certain the water/flour ratios are correct. You can order a scale online if you can't find one locally for about $25. In the mean time, be aware that there is a wide variation in the amount of flour you can get into your 1 cup scoop. I suggest you use a 1/2 C measure to fill a 1 Cup measure and level it with a straight edge so you can try to be accurate. You won't be packing it in that way.


One other thing I will mention is that regardless of the type of yeast you use (dry) you will be able to use less of it in your warm climate. Yeast is providing a bacteria to create acids and CO2 gas that rises the dough. The first bat6ch you make, use the amount called for and note how long it takes to double in volume. Make the same batch again and try using say 3/4 of the amount called for. It should take a little longer to double and the bread will taste better and last longer. In a tropical climate you can probably use nearly half the yeast and still get a nice rise so long as you are not in air conditioning. You should try to mix your water at a temperature that will give you roughly a 78F dough temperature. Slightly cool to the touch.


So give it a try and let us know if you have questions. I look forward to seeing or at least hearing about your first efforts. There are lots of friendly and helpful bakers that will be pleased to help.


Welcome aboard!


Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

My suggestion, wear a Bikini while baking or just an apron. 


I met my honey in Barbados when we were both working there.  I used to bake in the mornings with all the windows and walls open.  That's what I loved about Barbados ... all the windows that could be opened completely!    We were up on a hill, at what was known as the Sugar Cane Club.  Don't know if it still exists.  I looked at the map.. north on west coast, west of Alleynedale Hall area with hill top view of the ocean.   I remember the Christmas tree the company sent us was locked up in customs and we didn't get it 'til after the new year.  Then it dropped all it's needles at once before we could decorate it.  We spent our weekends driving all over the island.  Lived there 15 months!


Mini

RedMan's picture
RedMan

Rose,


If you're going to get adventurous you must try coconut turnovers. This is a classic bajan snack..and why not take advantage of the abundance of coconut?! Here is the recipe:


http://giovannisrock.blogspot.com/2008/07/coconut-turnovers.html


 


RedMan

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

I'm blown away by the friendliness on this site! You guys are all so great and I only just arrived :) I have a feeling it has to do with the fact that bakers always have nice tasty treats around to spread happiness and joy :) Thanks so much for all the wonderful tips to get me going!


Good to know that bread likes where I'm living David, and thanks for the link to more basic starter stuff, it'll be perfect for me to begin with.


Eric: turns out I do have a scale! :) The house the company has us in came furnished so I searched the cupboards and viola! one hiding in the back under the kitchen sink in kilograms and ounces.


Mini, I think my fiance would very much enjoy your suggestion to keep cool lol We're going to be in Barbados until at least March but possibly for a few years, we don't know yet. Sugar Cane Club sounds familliar, I know the area you're talking about anyhow. We're on the south coast in Rockley. That's pretty funny about the Christmas tree, you can buy real ones at the BigB now actually so I guess you can get them into the country easier but they're pretty expensive so we just got a Charlie Brown Christmst tree and I made homemade decorations for it. Popcorn garlands and paper ornaments lol most Charlie Brown tree ever!


Redman, I love coconut so I'll have to give those turnovers a try. One things the Bajans certainly know how to do here is food. Everything I've tasted so far has been positively lovely!


Well I just finished making some hungarian style crepes for breakfast so I'm gonna go eat those. They don't taste like the ones my grandma makes though I'm going to try and get her recipe....


Thanks for your encouragement all,


Rose.

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

First loaf ever is about to go in the oven. I used the recipe recommended by David. It rose quite nicely for the first rise and it looked so pretty I was sort of afraid to touch it! lol. Lil nervous but excited to have some possibly good bread!


Rose.

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Tasty, with a crispy crust... I think it rose like it was supposed to and everything... Very happy with the results and looking forward to my next recipe :)

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Beautiful bread, Rose!


Gorgeous crust and crumb, and yes, it's clear that it got the rise it should have. See, it's easy! I know it had to be fun, 'cause I just finished baking a loaf myself and it was a kick, as it always is!


Nice work on the picture, too. Some of us have a lot of trouble getting the hang of the upload-photo thing.


You're on the road to better health and happiness as a bread baker. So keep up the great work!


Soundman (David)

Eli's picture
Eli

Very good job you are well on your way!!! Congrats that crust looks great and the crumb as well!!


We hope to see many more!


Eli


 


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Yummm your homemade bread and Island food...what could be better!


Sylvia

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Thanks guys! The crust turned out really good but today the bread part seems kind of dense. Almost like its heavy instead of fluffy like I was expecting. Is that just the way this bread is? I'm wondering if it could have cooked a little longer? I'm going to get a thermometer so I can check the temperature on my next loaf....

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Rose,


There are a lot of different ways to get the bread to the "done" point. It all boils down (so to speak) to time and temperature. All ovens are different, and one thing you will learn by baking is the particulars of your own oven: its hot spots, cool spots, how close it really gets to the temperature you set, etc.


Bread can "look done" but be underbaked. The crust will have a nice color, but the internal temperature, which should be between 195 - 210 dF (depending on the type of bread you are baking) may need more baking time. That's why I always use an instant-read thermometer (though I'm getting a little better at predicting when the bread is done these days).


About crumb texture: basic white sandwich bread (baked in a loaf pan) generally has a tight crumb; a more open crumb usually involves using what we call "higher hydration" doughs -- doughs with more total water as a percentage of the total flour.


As a beginning bread baker you might want to think about the kind of bread you want to eat, find a recipe that fits the bill, and bake it several times, until you start to feel confident making your first choice bread. After that, the world!


Hope this helps.


Soundman (David)

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

What I really want to try baking is some Rye bread, its my absolute favourite. My dad is a farmer and we sold our produce at the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto. He would come home once a week with these two fantastic loaves: one a darker rye and with a golden brown crust and a second one that was much lighter inside and reminded me more of a white bread. Some days when he would come home from the city the bread would still be warm in the middle.... my mouth waters even just thinking about the memory of it. I remember some days when the bread wouldn't even make it into the house before we were ripping off chunks of it to nibble on. I've no clue what kind exactly it was but at some point I want to find something like it. The crumb was fairly small I think, nothing huge or rustic looking anyhow. Figured I would start with something simple first though.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Rose,


Rye bread, yum. You can get there from here.


There are some really great rye bakers and recipes on TFL. Most of the really good rye recipes I know about, however, involve using "sourdough", i.e. a symbiotic culture of wild yeast and bacteria. (The wild yeast leaven the bread, the bacteria provide amazing flavor.) It's not really hard to develop a sourdough culture. But it may be a little early for someone just embarking on baking bread.


If I were just starting out and had rye bread as my goal, I would first bake some commercially yeasted loaves using "preferments", whose somewhat arcane names are "poolish", "biga", "pate fermentee", and the like. I would also want to make my preferment using some whole grain flour, for example whole wheat. Once I had that under my belt I would start developing my own sourdough starter, with the idea of baking sourdough rye once the starter was fully developed and active.


Here's a link to floym's (author of TFL!) Daily Bread, which uses a poolish:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/mydailybread


You could use this recipe as a guide, as Floyd does, and gradually start swapping some of the flour, which I assume is "bread flour", for some whole wheat, or some rye for flavor's sake.


Here's a link to dmsnyder's blog, in particular a lovely rye bread that is quite detailed:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9316/sour-rye-bread-george-greenstein039s-%E2%80%9Csecrets-jewish-baker%E2%80%9D


I would also recommend you get a bread baking book. Here's a link to a discussion of the first bread baking book people used or owned:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9767/what-was-your-first-bread-book


Happy baking!


Soundman (David) 

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Thanks for all the helpful pointers David. I've been hopping around the site reading about these preferments and poolishes and found them all a little intimidating and confusing lol. Feeding scheduels and days of growing.... seemed like a lot of work to me for a loaf of bread hehe. For now I'm going to continue to try some easy stuff until I get bored and need more of a challenge. Also I was thinking of maybe asking for a bread book for Christmas...

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Rose,


Yes, it seems a little over-the-top the first time you see all the strange things people will do, just to make a loaf of bread!


I admit I was probably getting a little ahead of the game in bringing up sourdough, but you said the magic words: rye bread.


The feeding schedules you refer to I assume are all about sourdough starter. If sourdough is in your future, you'll get there in due time. I agree that people can and will get mighty obsessive over their little stash of wild yeast and bacteria. Who are these crazy compulsive bakers, anyway? But in their (our) defense, I would point out that sourdough culture is alive and does amazing things in the line of raising and flavoring bread. It's hard to blame people for making sure their hard-working microbes are happy.


You are probably right as well, it's even early to get mixed up with preferments, so to speak. Still, they're not at all that complicated. All a preferment is, is making part of the dough early. Since bread flavor comes mostly from fermentation, if you add some pre-fermented dough to your bread dough, you're just packing in flavor.


Still, if preferments are in your future, they will come in time as well. Meanwhile, pick your favorite "straight dough" (or "direct method") recipe and make it your own. (Straight dough, or using the direct method, is what you already did: no preferment, no sourdough, just mix your dough, let it ferment, then proof, i.e. let it rise for the last time, and bake.)


Once you master a straight dough, you will be hungry for new frontiers to conquer. Then you can go back and look at preferments (and who knows, maybe sourdough?).


Happy baking!


Soundman (David)

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

You might want to try and get a good recipe for a local baked goodie they call "sweet buns". They were prevalent down there when I spent a couple of months in the early 80's. Absolutely memorable little treats. 

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Hm I haven't tried those yet where do you get them? I've had the salt bread here that's awesome. Its a nice heavy doughy kind of bun. My fiance's coworker has a lovely wife from Trinidad who is the one who inspired me to try the bread baking. I intend to swipe some recipes from her. She made a Trinny dish the other night called fish n' bake that is salt fish and vegetables inside a little flat pan bread kind of cake. Very tasty indeed. She may know how to make sweet buns as well, it seems like some of the foods are similar across the islands in the Carribean.....

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

We'd find them in any little corner store. They would be in a basket or box, probably made by a local home baker, they were definitely not "store bought" or manufactured. But they'd be in all the little mom-and-pop corner shops and depending where you got them most were awesome though others rather missed the mark.


Never saw any at the big grocery store. In fact the bread section in that store was, to put it nicely, disastrous. Next to the usual batches of "sliced white bread", they'd have a couple dozen loaves of bread in plastic bags off to one side, totally green with mould. Understandable, considering the very humidity and high temp but still a little unusual to see this would have been collecting there for a few days.


There was just one "large" grocery store where we were staying, though, everything else we bought either at a corner store or went to town for the market. This meant going on the public bus for a good half hour or more, careening at breakneck speeds along very narrow, hilly, bumpy roads in ancient busses.


As for flying fish and "non-Flipper" dolphin (looks like this is how they describe it to every foreigner!) were actually tasty and not fishy. I too am not a fish person and still managed to enjoy the dish that was prepared by our friend's mom.I'd say give it a try, you may be surprised.


There's also a particular collection of herbs they sell at the market, can't recall what they call it or what herbs it consist of, but it seemed to be the "standard" Bajan flavours that would end up in numerous dishes.

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Ah this would explain things, we have a pretty decent grocery store where we are, no mouldy bread or anything like that, it doesn't have everything you would find at a big grocery back home but most things are good quality. We also shop at Pricesmart which is exactly like a Costco back home (even the same brands) or a Sam's in the states. The bread still isn't very good at the grocery even though it is edible its not up to the quality of bakery bread in my town at home. We have a very prevalant Portuguse and Italian community where I'm from so as you can imagine the bread is always amazing and there is a pretty wide variety of types to choose from... The lack of really good bakery bread is what led me towards trying to make some myself. Oh and also stuff is expensive here!!! For FIVE flour tortilla's its almost 12 dollars Bajan and considering what is in tortillas I can't bring myself to pay that now that I know how easy they are. We have a car so we don't have to ride the scary bus but I do know what you're talking about in regards to careening around the tiny roads at breakneck speeds. When the future hubs is driving sometimes I have to close my eyes....


As for the 'dolphin fish' I typed that in because I didn't want anyone to get upset thinking we were actulally going to eat lovable dolphins. I'm sure that the locals clairfy for similar reasons....

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Rose you are a natural. Your bread looks great.


Once you get the hang of this I would be very interested in seeing some of the local treats made by locals. Sort of a bakery tour. The Islands have such unique tastes I'll bet you will really enjoy your stay.


Anyway, thanks for sharing. Really great job!


Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Gotta get someone to show you how.  Uses fresh chives and parsley ground into a paste and used as a marinade and then egged & breaded.  Pan fry. 


Would go real well with your loaf.


Mini

countrygirl84's picture
countrygirl84

Sadly,


neither the future hubs or I are fish eaters... I know, sort of a tragedy considering where we are... but every friday there is a "fish fry" down at Oistins that we've been to a few times getting the pork, and we have decided to try out the "dolfin fish" (not flipper fellow animal lovers) the next time we go as we hear it is not fishy tasting. Is the flying fish like that as well or is it a fishy fish(lol)?...We both eat tuna...  Oistins is THE place to go for local cuisine as it is fabulous and pretty cheap. In fact it would probably be more expensive to do it myself at home by the time I bought everythign at the grocery... and probably not as good seeing as most of the huts are run by tiny old grannies who probably started to learn cooking the dishes when they were running around THEIR grannies skirts lol


(oh and p.s. the loaf is long long gone haha...)