Antigua Sunday Bread

Antigua Easter Bread
By Freda Gore/Image © Freda Gore

Antiguan bakers pride themselves with their breads especially the Sunday bread made by the local bakeries; Sunday breads are the cream of the crop. Extra richness with the addition of vegetable shortening or lard, producing a more delicate and richer tasting bread. They’re formed into larger loaves with decorative plaits and twists on top of the crust. They are great accompaniments to the traditional Antigua Sunday breakfast of stewed Salt fish and chopped eggplant.

4 Tbsp. active dry yeast (or 2 x 1/4oz packages )

3 Tbsp. sugar

3 cups lukewarm water

6 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 cup for dusting and kneading

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 Tbsp. lard or butter

2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup tap water

In a medium bowl add the yeast, sugar and water; cover and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture is frothy and bubbly.

In a large bowl sift the 6 cups of flour, form a well in the center and add the shortening, lard (or butter if using) and salt.

Pour the yeast mixture in and mix into a smooth dough. Dough should not be sticky (use some of the extra cup of flour for dusting and kneading). Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles its size about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Place dough on a floured surface and knead for 5 more minutes; dust lightly with flour and cover. Let rise for another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Grease 2 large cookie sheets and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut risen dough into 4 large pieces, roll into balls and rest for 15 minutes to relax dough. Cut a small piece from each ball to decorate the top of the loaves.

Form dough into 4 large long loaves. Beginning from the middle, fold dough into half-circle and roll on a lightly floured surface with palm of hand until a nice loaf is formed.

Place on greased cookie sheet, being careful that the seam is at the bottom of the pan. Using the small pieces cut from each loaf, roll each piece into a long strip and cut the strips into 3 pieces; join together at one end and plait into a long braid.

Brush the top of each bread lightly with water and place braid on top of each loaf. Secure each end by pressing securely on top of loaves. Cover loaves and let rise for 10 to 15 minutes or until they have doubled in size. Bake until golden, or sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.