How to Make Bahama Bread

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Start to Finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Servings: 6

Difficulty: Beginner

Bahama bread, also called Bahamian bread or johnnycake (sometimes spelled johnny cake), is a local bread from the Bahamas. Made fresh every day on the islands, Bahama bread is a local staple that is served alongside fruit jelly, butter, cheese or as an accompaniment to stewed meats. As its names suggest, the bread is a cross between a dense bread and a cake. It is neutral in taste, rather than sweet or savory, and is very filling. This recipe is adapted from ones by Saveur and Tru Bahamian Food Tours.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted, at room temperature

  • 4 cups all-purpose white flour, sifted

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 cup milk

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a wire rack in the center of the oven.

Whip the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until the ingredients are fully combined and the butter and sugar are fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to scrap down the butter and sugar from the sides.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Slowly add the flour mix to the whipped butter and sugar. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour to prevent overmixing. Stir only until the ingredients are fully combined.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and water. Add the milk and water blend to the flour mix, and stir until a wet dough is formed.

Warning

  • Do not overmix when adding the flour to the butter or when adding the milk mixture. Mixing too much after the flour is added can lead to a tough, leaden bread.

Grease a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan with the tablespoon of vegetable oil, oiling the sides as well as the bottom. Using a rubber spatula, push the dough into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.

Place it on the center rack in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. Test the doneness at 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center of the bread. If it comes out clean -- with no batter sticking to it -- the bread is ready. If not, continue baking and test the doneness every 5 to 10 minutes.

Tip

  • When done, the Bahama bread will be a golden brown color at the edges, and a pale yellow at the center. The bread will not rise a lot.

Remove the finished bread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Cut it into slices and serve immediately, while still warm. Keep Bahama bread fresh for the rest of the day by wrapping it loosely in wax paper.

Variations

Bahama bread is sometimes made with coconut milk, which gives the bread extra richness. To make coconut Bahama bread, replace the milk and half the water with coconut milk. This will also make the bread sweeter. Grated, unsweetened coconut can also be added to the bread. Use no more than 2/3 cup of dried, unsweetened coconut for every 4 cups of flour.

In some cases, Bahama bread can be cooked on a griddle or deep-fried instead of baked. However, this is more common in the United States than in the Bahamas.

  • To pan fry, drop a 1/2 cup of dough onto a hot, non-stick frying pan, heated on medium heat. Spray the pan with cooking spray before frying. Cook the bread, covered, for 5 minutes before flipping with a spatula. Continue flipping the bread every 3 to 5 minutes, until the bread is cooked through.

  • To deep-fry, heat at least 3 inches of vegetable oil on medium-high heat until it reaches 325 degrees F. Drop a 1/4 cup of dough into the oil, doing so carefully to prevent splashing. Fry until the bread is a rich, golden brown. Remove from the oil using metal tongs, and let it drain on paper towel.

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