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Yet another kind of bread - no two

"It’s firm enough to hold any filling you could possibly think of while still giving you that notable softness on the inside that we all love in a bread. And did I mention that it is shaped to form like a folded bread so you can easily fill it?" Imma - Immaculate Bites

It's cooking class day and we are having a go at jerk chicken - which deserves a whole post to itself of course. We are using a Robert Carrier recipe which is interesting as well. You might think that jerk chicken is a recent craze, but this is a recipe from way back in the 70s I'm guessing. Well the West Indians have been in England in big numbers for a couple of generations now - maybe more when I think about it. And besides Carrier was an American. Anyway the recipe is so simple that I was trying to think of something else we could do to fill the time, and thought of bread. Surely the Jamaicans must have some kind of flatbread I thought. Well yes and no - they have coco bread - shown here folded around some jerk chicken - well it may actually be pork - but you get the picture. It's bread though, not flatbread, so in the end I decided we would not do this because it involves yeast and rising, which take time that we don't have, and besides David doesn't like coconut which is a featured ingredient in the form of coconut milk.

Mind you I did send one of the recipes I found - from a website called Panning the Globe - to my younger granddaughter who is very proud of her bread making skills. I'm hoping she will have a go and tell us what it is like, although I have not heard from her as yet. I suspect the family is out having fun.

Jamaica, it seems - home of the jerk chicken - has two distinctive breads in fact - coco bread and hard dough bread - which is not an attractive name really. I will come to that, but first the coco bread, because I don't really think I have seen anything like this before. I am constantly amazed at how many thousands of different ways you can make some kind of bread with flour and water - well coconut milk in this instance - so let's just say liquid. Flour + liquid = bread in a a thousand different forms.

Coco bread is a sweetish bread made with ordinary flour, coconut milk, butter, sugar - and yeast. You make the dough with those things, prove it, roll it out, brush with butter, fold it over, some repeat the process, some don't, brush the whole thing with butter - or somebody said a sugar glaze, and bake. Of course the recipes have slight variations - somebody used an egg, somebody used coconut oil instead of milk, and so on. Again how wonderful that one simple recipe can be varied in so many ways.

The ones on the left here - are half folded and come from Immaculate Bites. Below are other examples from Serious Eats; Cookist; Food and Wine and Taste Atlas.

There is no recipe on the Taste Atlas site, but note the beef patty poking out between the two layers. I say beef patty but it's actually a beef pasty, although it could be any kind of meat or vegetable, a pastry encased thing anyway - so pastry and bread all together. Not good for you, but a very popular street food.

As to the origins of this particular bread the general opinion seems to be that it was something the slaves threw together with what was to hand. Well I suppose they were working the sugar plantations so there would have been sugar, but butter?

Of the recipes that I have given there, I do not know which is the most authentic. I thought Ainsley Harriott - England's very annoying West Indian chef might have had a recipe but no there is nothing nor for the other Jamaican bread - Hard dough bread.

Hard dough bread, sometimes spelt as hard do bread is the everyday bread of the Jamaicans - the equivalent of our white sliced bread. This too is a sweet bread - the sweetness here coming from a sweet glaze. In England it is now available in supermarkets as well as artisan bakeries in Jamaican parts of England. In an article on Vice the author visits a bakery in Dalston in East London, which is where I would get off the train and change to a bus to get to the school in which I taught in nearby Stoke Newington. In the article we are told that the bread actually has Chinese origins - even a Mr. Chin Bwang is given the credit for introducing it in the 1920s. The Chinese and Indians came to Jamaica after slavery was abolished to take the place of the slaves as indentured labour. Not technically slaves, although they might as well have been.

This is a dough break machine which is used in the traditional method of baking the bread. Really it seems to be a large rolling machine. A giant sized pasta machine. Anyway it is the basic sandwich bread of the Jamaicans and is often served with the jerk chicken to sop up any juices that might be left.

But we won't be doing that. I have suggested that we make some sweet potato oven fries for the carbohydrate content of our meal, and I was going to do this myself, but forgot to buy the sweet potato when I went to the shops. So it will just have to be potato chips - or rice. Now it actually should be Caribbean rice and beans, but yet again it has coconut. Truth to tell I am increasingly finding this a dampener on what I can cook. But never mind.

What we shall do though is to make a fresh salsa to go with it. I'm going to leave everyone to make up their own. We'll exchange ideas.

I did buy a pineapple, and truth to tell am sorely tempted to grill a slice or two as in Yotam Ottolenghi's version that I included in my last oddments post, but really I think I shall just use it as the foundation of my salsa.

Half an hour to go so I had better go and check that I haven't forgotten anything else. I'm also sorely tempted to turn my jerk chicken into kebabs, which isn't very traditional. We'll see.

But how inventive is man with flour and water!


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