I didn’t have the slightest idea about Caribbean food until one day I came across Cynthia’s renowned blog - Tastes Like Home, where Cynthia writes about Caribbean food and culture, weaving her personal memories into her writing, all this accompanied with beautiful photographs that Cynthia takes herself. Cynthia and I became instant friends, at the moment virtual ones, with hopes to meet one day in some part of the world (I secretly hope that the place will be somewhere in the Caribbean, that I would love to explore).
When a while ago Cynthia announced that her book was going to be released, I was ecstatic. I didn’t have a Caribbean cookbook in my collection and I couldn’t wait to see a great one on my shelf. Cynthia’s book was released recently, just before Christmas. Cynthia was very kind to send me a copy of her book and guys, I’ve been hooked ever since! Cynthia not only provides the very detailed recipes for over 100 authentic Caribbean recipes but also talks about Caribbean food practices, customs and traditions, and demystifies native ingredients common in the Caribbean cooking. I’ve read the book from cover to cover in a breeze and have bookmarked almost every recipe as they all sound and look equally good!
One of the first recipes that caught my attention was for butter-flaps, delicious breads indigenous to Guyana where Cynthia is originally from. Needless to say, I made them immediately. These are folded rolls stuffed, yes, stuffed, with butter, which melts away slowly soaking the breads as they bake in the oven. Have them for breakfast, with your dinner, or snack. So good! I have a feeling you will love them too. Give them a try.
I can’t wait to try other recipes from the book. Cynthia, thank you for enlightening me about the beautiful Caribbean culture and cuisine.
My slight changes to the recipe include, 1) I smeared less butter than suggested onto the dough circles and I was quite pleased with the result. 2) I brushed half of the just baked hot flaps with butter and left the other half as is, and I liked those not buttered more. It is a matter of personal taste. So please do as your heart desires.
Makes 12 to 18
1 + 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
About 1 cup high quality salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 medium-sized bowl
1 large bowl, oiled
Damp kitchen towels
2 baking sheet-pans
2 wire racks
1 small pastry brush
Add sugar to medium bowl, pour in water and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in yeas. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in warm place to proof for 10 minutes.
Add flour to large bowl along with salt and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the centre of the flour; pour in the yeast mixture (scrape the bow) along with oil.
Using the fork, stir, mixing the flour and yeast mixture until combined. Turn dough and remnants onto work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes, dusting lightly with flour to avoid stickiness.
Place dough in oiled bowl and dab a little more oil on top of the dough to avoid a skin. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour and 15 minutes or until dough bulks up.
Punch down dough, knead 1-2 minutes, cut into half, and shape into logs then cut each log into 6 equal pieces (Farida: I cut mine into more pieces as my dough has risen a lot). Working as quickly as you can, form each piece of dough into a solid round ball and then roll into a round disk on a lightly floured work surface. Disk should be about 3-3 1/2 inches in diameter.
Take 1-2 teaspoons (Farida: Cynthia suggest 1 tablespoon or more, so do as you wish), and smear the butter all over the insides but not close to the edges.
Fold over dough to make like a half moon; now fold across to form a triangle. Press down the edges (do not seal them). Place dough on ungreased (!) baking sheets; repeat until all the balls have been shaped, rolled, buttered and folded.
Cover with kitchen towel and leave to proof for 1 hour in a warm place. 20 minutes before the hour is up, preheat oven to 400F. You will need to use both oven racks.
Place pans in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the butter-flaps are nicely browned (not dark brown). You will notices some of the butter has released from the dough onto the baking sheet - this is normal. The butter inside will melt into the dough. (Tip: As soon as the pans are removed from the oven you can turn the butter-flaps upside down so that the melted butter inside trickles down to the top).
If desired, melt 2 tablespoon of butter and brush the butter-flaps as soon as they come out of the oven (you can also use the butter from the baking sheets). Let cool on wire racks.
Serve warm or at room temperature.