Two Sisters and BUN
It's that time of year again — Easter is upon us! With schools closed, all three generations of the Rousseau clan usually pack up and head to the coast for the week. And what a glorious week it usually is! It's all family, friends, and 'food for days', as they would say in Trinidad. On Good Friday we enjoy a fish dinner, as many practising Christians would have given up meat for Lent. On Sunday afternoon we always have an Easter egg hunt for the boys and we gorge on chocolate. And then there is the Sunday roast, which on Easter is lamb and potatoes served with mint sauce. We invite friends and family to come and spend the day with us, so the trail of leisurely visitors who take the 2 _-hour drive to pop in and hang out makes it all very enjoyable.
That said, we must say that the Jamaican Easter experience that we love the best is Easter bun. This tasty "loaf" is our version of an Easter treat that was birthed from the traditional British hot cross buns that were eaten on Good Friday. These special treats are baked only at this time of year and become available from about two weeks before Good Friday. To put it plainly, we are addicted. We adore it fresh, toasted, with butter, with cheese, with cream cheese, plain - just about every which way we can.
At Easter we are in bun heaven, which means our bodies usually pay for it afterwards. So, the rule these days, now that we're both over 40 and the metabolism has slowed down a bit, is no more than two slices a day. This does not, of course, count the edges of slices or the bites of bun stolen from nephews, children, parents, friends or aunts - those, you see, are free.
Our paternal grandmother Manga, an incredible baker, made the best bun. We will forever remember the crusty sugary top that was on the bun that would literally make Michelle dance. No one in the family seems to have the recipe so, after filming last week's episode, we began our hunt and experiment to "recreate" Manga's Easter bun... We are determined this year to venture to the seaside with our OWN home baked Easter Bun - just like Manga's... so the search (and the baking) has begun-hey man, it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it!
Editor's note: Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau are epicurean adventurists and self-avowed Caribbean-ophiles. Their show, Two Sisters and a Meal, airs Sundays at 5:30 on TVJ with repeats on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Their first book Caribbean Potluck will be published in May by Kyle Books, UK and their web series Island Potluck can be viewed at twosistersandameal.com.
TWO SISTERS Easter Bun
1 1/2 cups brown sugar_
2 tbsp molasses_
1 bottle Dragon Stout_
_ cup honey_
3 tbsp melted butter_
1 tsp allspice_
1/2 tsp nutmeg_
1/2 tsp cinnamon_
3 cups flour_
2 tsp baking powder_
_ cup each raisins, chopped prunes, chopped dates, currants_
1/4 cup granulated sugar_
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp toasted sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350F. In the meantime combine stout, sugar, butter, honey, molasses and spices over a low flame, stirring until the sugar is melted and dissolved.
Transfer molasses mixture to a bowl. Mix in eggs till well combined. Sift together flour and baking powder and gradually add to the molasses egg mixture mixing till well combined. Add dried fruits and mix well.
Grease and flour a loaf pan. Layer bottom of pan with wax paper. Transfer batter to pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
When ready remove from oven. Combine half granulated sugar and 3 tbsp water in a small saucepan over a medium flame and allow to come to a boil and for sugar to melt. Brush top of bun with sugar mixture and sprinkle with balance of granulated sugar and sliced almonds. Slice and serve with butter, cheese or both!