Every island has its go-to bread for sandwiches. The Jamaicans have coco
bread (which, as it happens, contains neither coconut nor cacao), the
Trinidadians have hops bread, and Bajans have salt bread. I wish I could share
all of the recipes for island rolls, but since I had to choose one, I went with the
salt bread, since its recipe can be hard to come by. Salt bread recipes have
always been a closely guarded secret in Barbados. The name salt bread doesn’t
mean that this bread is particularly salty, just that it is savoury bread. It has a soft,
floury crust, and when you bite into it, you get a flour moustache and a pillowy-soft
interior. Old-fashioned salt breads are made with white flour and a coconut
palm leaf on top of each bread so that when the bread rises, it bursts, giving it a
rustic appearance. You can create a similar appearance by slitting the top and
sides with a knife.
One ¼-ounce package (2½ teaspoons / 7 g) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup (250 ml) warm water (110°F to 115°F / 43°C to 46°C), or
more as needed
4 cups (500 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegan margarine, melted
Coconut palm pieces, optional
Stir the yeast and sugar into the water and let stand for about 15 minutes, until
the top is foamy. (If the yeast doesn’t foam, it’s dead or the water was too hot or
too cool. You need to start over with fresh yeast.) Put the flour and salt in a bowl
and stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture and the melted margarine and stir
until the dough comes together.
Knead the dough in the bowl for 7 minutes, until it is very soft and slightly
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl in a warm, draft-free place, cover, and let
rise until doubled in size. This could take anywhere from 1½ hours in a tropical
climate to 3 hours in a temperate climate or longer in a cold climate.
Grease a baking sheet. Punch down the dough and divide it into 6 pieces. The
dough should be very smooth and easy to work with. Form each piece into a pear
shape and place the pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Cut two slits into the
top of the bread or place optional coconut palm pieces at the top. Gently brush
the bread with water. Put the baking sheet in a warm, draft-free place, cover, and
let the dough rise for 1 to 2½ hours, until the formed breads have doubled in
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Re-brush the breads with some water and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes,
until golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.