Friday, November 16, 2007

Belizean Creole Bread

This is one of those breads that my mother never made but that always reminds me of home because of how many times I ate it on market day when we were in town. I hadn't thought about it until a couple weeks ago when I came across a treasure trove of Belizean recipes online. They were posted on in some ancient format by a Belizean lady named Erleen Godfrey. Thanks to her, I made creole bread from scratch for the first time this week and it turned out wonderfully, puffing up in the oven and browning to a beautiful rich tone. Thank you Ms. Erleen, wherever you may be:).

Belizean creole bread would be a plain white bread were it not for the special secret ingredient: coconut milk, which transforms it into something fragrant and delicious, with a soft and airy crumb, easy to slice and even easier to eat; plain, or toasted with jam or butter or a slice of Dutch edam cheese. Back home us kids used to eat it with Unilever's infamous Blue Band Margarine-the tinned margarine of the masses sold across the developing world. Creole bread would also make a great base for some fabulous coconut scented french toast or bread pudding. I have leftovers from my office Thanksgiving party and am looking forward to further experimentation.

Belizean Creole Bread

1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk (preferably organic. I use the lowfat version, but it really doesn't matter which you choose. *)
5-8 cups of white flour (the amount you will need depends upon the humidity in your region. Here in DC I usually only use about 6 cups.)
2 tsps of instant yeast
1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used canola oil this time but next time around I plan to use organic coconut oil to up the coconut flavour even more.)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

*If you want to stick with tradition, make your coconut milk from scratch instead of buying it in a can: pierce the eye of a mature coconut with an ice pick and drain the coconut water into a pot. Then break open the nut with a hammer or heavy knife and remove and finely grate the coconut meat-you can use a heavy duty food processor for this. Heat up the coconut water to medium heat on the stove and mix the grated meat into it, then turn off the heat and let it stand for about 15 minutes, stirring and mashing around the grated meat so that the water turns milk-coloured and opaque. Then strain the whole shebang through a cloth. The resulting white liquid is the real deal-fresh coconut milk, always much superior to the canned stuff. If you put it in your fridge, coconut cream will rise to the top, which, when thoroughly chilled, can be whipped just like dairy cream. So one day, when you feel like doing something different, pick up one of those coconuts at the supermarket and give fresh coconut milk a try!


1. Proof the yeast. Mix together the 1/2 cup warm water, 2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp of flour in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Warm milk, fat, sugar, and salt in the microwave for about 20 seconds-stir together and set aside. Don't let the mixture boil, you just want to heat it up a bit. Sift 5 cups of flour into a large bowl.

3. Once the milk mixture has cooled enough that you can comfortably stick a finger in it, mix it into the yeast.

4. Add wet ingredients to the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. If sticky, add flour until you have a dough that you can knead.

5. Dust your counter with flour and knead the dough until smooth, about 5-8 minutes. If the dough becomes sticky as you knead just sprinkle with flour as required. You may have to add up to a cup of flour at this stage depending on the humidity of your kitchen.

6. Put in greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size. Punch down and knead for two or three minutes. Make into two large or six small round balls. Place on a greased pan-let rise again, bake at 400 F/205 C for 30-35 minutes until the tops brown and the bottom of a loaf, when tapped, sounds hollow.


Cynthia said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I am definitely going to try making this bread and will let you know :)

Lyra said...

Great, and since you did that study with all the different coconut graters, we know you are going to make your coconut milk from scratch, no true?

Brilynn said...

I've been craving bread lately, this sounds really good with the coconut milk!

Lyra said...

It is delicious with the coconut milk Bri...and you don't have to make the milk from scratch, as you can see, I didn't! And when you toast it, it gives off this lovely coconuty aroma. I want to try making it with white whole wheat though, because I like to get my whole grains and there are none in this recipe.

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Barry Harmon said...

I just found your site and really enjoyed reading it.

I noticed the recipe for Belizian Creole Bread and wondered if you would give me permission to do a photo shoot and post the recipe on my site.

I would give you a link and full credit for the recipe.


Barry Harmon

Anonymous said...

Good morning Thanks so much for posting this recipe hi from Canada.
It's winter here and wanting to use what is in the kitchen than going outside in the cold today.
I started making bread comfort food.. this morning and had cornflour wanting to neutralize the smell and taste of cornflour decided to add coconut oil in my cupboard then I came upon this recipe.I also added creole spices to today bread.Being inventive knowing on the right cooking path will try this recipe another flour next time.

言承旭Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
肉圓不加大蒜Jason said...
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Lenie said...

I am Belizean and had never made creole bread until I came across this recipe. I made it and it was a great success. My friends loved it. I am making it again and adding two teaspoons coconut essence to give it a stronger coconut taste. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!

Lyra said...

Lenie, I'm glad you liked it! Where in Belize are you from? And where are you living now?

lenie said...

Hi Lyra, I am from Corozal and now living in the Cayman Islands from 1971! Caymanians use a lot of coconut milk in their dishes but had never heard of it in bread. The second time I made it I put the coconut essence and boy did it improve the taste!!! My friends now beg me to make it!!!

lenie said...

I am from Corozal and now live in the Cayman Islands. The last time I made the bread I added two teaspoons of coconut essence and boy did it improve the coconut taste. My friends rave about it!!!

Corina said...

My parents moved to Belize almost ten years ago (Punta Gorda). A neighbor of theirs makes it in an oven made out of a 50 gallon drum over an open fire and her daughters sell it door-to-door. Any visit is considered an incomplete success if I don't get at least one bun. I was so excited to find your recipe! I'm sure it won't taste quite the same without the woodsmoke effect, but I can't wait to try it out. Thank you!

Alida said...

I just found this recipe in a cookbook at the library and will be giving it a try soon. thanks for the tip about using coconut oil!!

Anonymous said...

Miss Erleen never fails! I grew up learning to cook Belizean food from her cookbook! Glad you found this recipe, It's worked wonderfully for me every time!!

Lyra said...

Im glad everyone has enjoyed this recipe. Yes, the traditional way to make creole bread is with fresh made coconut milk, coconut oil or lard, and bake it in a firehearth, sometimes made with a 55 gallon drum, over a wood fire:)

Anonymous said...

Hi this recipe is great, I bake a whole lot of belizean pastries etc but this right here is very easy and straight forward to use. I did a little switching around with the oil, I used half the oil and some butter in place. It comes out very soft. I often substitute butter with cooking oil. I enjoyed thanks for posting. :-)

Robin Gentry said...

Hi! I'm going to make creole buns today using your recipe! My grandmother made them all the time when she was living. My aunt gave me a recipe of it before I moved to Florida from California but I couldn't find it. That's why I was googling for the recipe and came across yours. I want to share them with my daughters and my son. They are learning their Belizean heritage as I learned about mine. I found out that I have over 200 cousins living in Belize! They are having a reunion this summer and I wish I could go. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

Emily Turner said...

Just made this for my husband (who is from Belize) and he LOVED it. His mother would make it for him all the time. He loved it so much, that he wants me to stop buying bread from the store and only use this recipe. Thanks for sharing!