Sweet (Bread) Home, Trinidad

I'm in Houston again, spending time with my father while I can. Yesterday, he expressed a couple of particular, and nostalgic, cravings. We're in a time where what daddy wants, daddy gets. So, besides making a batch of callaloo, I took on the task of making my very first sweet bread.

I pulled out his tattered copy of the Naparima Girls' School Cookbook (the 1987 Diamond Jubilee edition) and set to work. Much like the times I discovered that sorrel and mincemeat meant different things to non-West Indians than the things I grew up loving, the first time I encountered sweetbreads in North America was a shock, to say the least.

This sweet bread is a soft dough, fruit studded, lightly sugary coconut loaf. And it's super easy to make, but you may need to do a bit of specialty shopping. Though, I don't know your life. Your pantry may be filled with everything you need.

The recipe is pretty forgiving, so you can omit any of the fruit except the mixed peel without really affecting the taste. I left out the cherries and currants. Also, I ended up having to add about 30-40 minutes to the baking time, so have a skewer on hand to test the doneness. You'll know it's ready when the stick comes out clean.

Lots of friends asked for the recipe when I posted the in-progress photo, so this goes out to pals. When you make it, I recommend having it with a coffee or a strong cuppa tea for breakfast. It's also a pretty great midnight snack. Enjoy!

Trinidadian Sweet Bread

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 coconut grated (equivalent - 1 c. dried grated coconut)
  • ¾ c. water or milk (I used a mix of evaporated milk and water)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c. margerine or butter
  • 1 tsp. Angostura bitters
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 3 c. flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ c. mixed peel
  • 1 c. raisins
  • ½ c. maraschino cherries
  • ½ c. currants

  1. Mix coconut with sugar and a little water.
  2. Add egg and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add essence, bitters and margerine/butter.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to first mixture.
  5. Add remaining liquid to make a very soft dough. Do not knead.
  6. Add fruits and mixed peel.
  7. Pour into a baking pan.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 60-90 minutes. Remove from oven.
  9. Mix a little sugar and water (1:1) to make a syrup and baste on sweet bread.
  10. Return bread to hot oven for 3-4 minutes. Remove and let cool on a rack.


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