Recipe: Caribbean Fry Bakes

This week I’ve completely given up:

- shooing the cat off our bed
– working so hard, I can’t see straight.
– being in a hurry
– doing the laundry
– eating boxed cereal

Instead, I’m now:

- snuggling my cat
– not-so-accidentally forgetting my phone at home
– dancing with my daughter with the curtains wide open
– playing board games with family
– gobbling up bakes

Caribbean chess, photo by Brian Snelson.

Thanksgiving week is a time for a little closer look at what matters. It’s about family, not work. It’s about noticing each other and taking the time to interact without twitching, finger first, towards our cellphones. It’s about looking each other in the eyes. And it’s about cooking together.

While I value a good pancake (and even a good Russian-style pumpkin pancakemost of the time, I’m a new convert to the Caribbean breakfast treat called “Bakes.” I’ve made three batches in as many days. Despite the name, bakes are only occasionally baked. More often than not, Bakes are fried discs of dough.

Confused? Don’t worry.

The only thing you need to know is that they are soft, doughy, and all together impossible to put down. Bakes are most enjoyed in the morning – think Sunday morning brunch – while the birds chirp and the ocean breeze ruffles your hair. That’s how they enjoy them in Saint Lucia, anyway. Nibbling on warm bakes, fresh from a skillet of bubbling oil, is a reminder that simple can often be the best thing there is.

Everyone has their own recipe, although I find they taste even better when made with a little helper.

Enjoy plain or split open with anything from jam, cheese, lunch meat,  salt cod salad, or even spam. Whatever floats your boat. (Just don’t forget a dash of gratitude today and always.)


4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups water, or as needed to bring the dough together


Put on your smile. You’re just a few steps away from bliss.

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough attachment. OR you can do this by hand.

Mix until a soft dough forms.

If you can stand to wait thirty minutes to an hour, let the dough rest and rise.

(Two different times, I could not stand to wait. Turns out these bakes taste great even if you cook them up right away)

But they do become rather lovely little pillows once they do puff up. Right before cooking, pat them down into relatively thin discs (about 1/4 inch thick).

Fry in a 1/4 inch of oil on both sides until puffy, browned, and cooked through. I had my heat set to medium and this was about perfect. You might need to play around with your temperature to get it to cook through on the inside before the outside gets too dark.

But really. Don’t fuss much. Towers eventually all fall down…

OR get eaten.

Speaking of which, just try to keep the kids away from these…


(and even after being told no, someone had to go hide behind the chair to sneak a little bit more).

I guess she thought I couldn’t see her.

Too funny.

P.S. Here’s the video that inspired this recipe:

P.P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Much love to you and yours!
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  1. This recipe does remind me of ‘oliebollen’ (oilballs), traditionally made in The Netherlands for New Years Eve. These are balls of dough which are deepfried until they are gold-brown. You could eat them straightforward with a lot of icing sugar or you can put raisins, dried currants, little pieces of apple, etc. in the dough before frying. My favorite variety is with currants and raisins.
    The ones in your recipe sound delicious too!

  2. We make this without the yeast in Jamaica and call them fried dumplings. In Trinidad they’re made without yeast also and called “fried bakes”. The name always cracks me up. I’m partial to the Jamaican name – fried dumplings or johnny cakes.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      It’s funny – seems like most recipes are without the yeast… it must be personal preference (although I do like the added flavor it imparts!)

  3. We ate something similar growing up as well, only without the yeast. I lived on a small native reservation in BC and we called it Bannock or fry bread! Yummy!

  4. Newfoundland has a long history of trade with the Caribbean. Fishermen here would bring down salted fish in exchange for rum and more salt. They must have picked up this recipe from there. Here they are called toutons (TOW-tuns), and they’re usually fried in scruncheon fat (tiny cubes of pork back fat) or deep fried and then drizzled with maple syrup. But other than that the recipe is pretty much identical!

  5. I’ve never eaten these plain before or seen them made with yeast! And in Trinidad, people usually use them like a type of naan bread to sop up curries.

  6. I used to live in St Lucia and loved getting bakes from the local vendors on the streets. (we just say bakes, not fried bakes) Delicious warm, straight from the cart! So glad to find this recipe.


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