What Makes Trinbagonian Roast Bakes Unique?

From the famous curry introduced by East Indian indentured servants all the way to the starchy dasheen plant that traveled by boat with West African plantation slaves, the brushstrokes that make up the vividly intricate portrait of Trinbagonian cuisine are loaded up with a culturally colorful history. In 1592, Trinidad was seized by Spain, making way for Spanish flavors as well as the inklings of tastes brought in from British colonists and Chinese workers, landing it as a contender for some of the best food in the Caribbean

When exploring the tastes of Trinidad and Tobago, one of the first dishes you'll likely come across is a no-yeast circular flatbread called bake. There are a few different types of bake, but the most common are fried bake or roast bake. Roast bake — which proves unique because it's roasted on an iron frying pan called a tawa — may also be called pot bake. This cooking method cuts down on the quantity of oil and fat that is typical to a fried bake, lending a softer, quick-bread-style texture.

Generally, roast bake calls for very simple ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, and water are the general makeup of this bread. Like most quick breads, the dry ingredients are first combined in a bowl. The butter is then slowly kneaded in, followed by water. After resting for at least 15 minutes, the dough is rolled out and placed on the tawa until it has risen and become golden brown.

A hearty accompaniment

Roast bake tastes divine with a simple butter spread on top. Additionally, some like to eat it with corned beef for a rounded breakfast. Many add cinnamon, nutmeg, or coconut to the dough recipe for some earthy, nutty notes, which makes for a beautiful contrast to fillings like seafood, cheese, and various meats. Of particular note, roast bake is often presented alongside salt fish, a style of cod that underwent dehydration with a salt preserve.

When it comes to bake, it would be a cardinal sin not to mention bake and shark, which is exactly what it sounds like: a plump strip of fried shark meat housed in between a sliced piece of bake. As a matter of fact, at locations in the United States with vast West Indian populations — like New York City — you might find yourself waiting over an hour in line to get your hands on one of these famous sandwiches. Topped with fixings like lettuce, tomatoes, and pepper sauce, many recipes adhere to fried bake for this flavorful dish, but, depending on your personal preferences, roast bake can certainly be used here, too.