Bajan food can seem on the surface to be the same as many other Caribbean countries (indeed, the national dishes of Cou-cou and flying fish seemed too similar to the Fungie and Saltfish I made for Antigua and Barbuda for me to consider because I do want variety in preps) but there are a lot of little nuances that make it totally unique.

Today I’ll be doing two preparations – one isn’t a food dish at all, but Bajan style Rum Punch – and a sweet bread commonly served around Christmas. It’s a delightful and rich bread that seems almost cookie- or cake-like in flavor. Normally it’s served with tea, but since it’s in the 90s here still, Rum Punch it is.

I’ll be following Nailah Blades Wylie’s recipe posted on the Today’s Mama blog. I don’t have a recipe for the Rum Punch because it’s in my head. Get on my drinking level, scrubs.

LET’S DO THIS (bread):

  • 2 1/2 cups grated fresh coconut
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, plus 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon shortening or nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • (optional) up to 1 cup of dry fruits such as raisins, cherries, etc.

(rum punch):

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup Mount Gay rum
  • 2 cups water
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of bitters

Total prep time was 90 minutes (17:30 to 19:00). Your time will vary. Hand grating coconut kind of sucks, not going to lie.

Here’s what you’re going to do:

  • Grease with shortening and flour or spray 2 bread pans, or one large springform cake tin, preheat the oven to 350°F
  • In one bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder
  • In another bowl, mix the 1/2 cup melted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, beaten egg, evaporated milk, coconut, almond essence and, if you are adding it, dry fruit.
  • Fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture until you have a firm, kneadable dough. Divide the dough into two loaves and press into the pan(s)
  • On the stovetop, melt the tablespoon butter, tablespoon brown sugar, and tablespoon water until it is a syrupy consistency
  • Score a criss-cross shape onto the loaves of dough and brush on the butter-sugar mixture.
  • Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. While cooking, make your rum punch.
  • Mix the lime juice, simple syrup, rum, water, and bitters in a pitcher. Refrigerate until served, then pour over ice and sprinkle nutmeg on top. Down the first one, sip the second. Or just sip, you do you.
  • Let the bread sit until cooled. Serve with hot tea or the rum punch (definitely the rum punch).

That’s it! Total time is about 3 hours (17:30 to 20:30).