It’s Independence Day here in Barbados on Monday, the island’s 54th. Fish Cakes, Conkies, Mauby, Coconuts (sweet bread), and the usual weekend Dessert and Souse, Cou-cou Cornmeal with Salt Fish Stew / gravy will suffice. Many will also do something with breadfruit; typically, pickled breadfruit, Breadfruit Cou-cou, or fire-roasted breadfruit. This year, I wanted to try something different with breadfruit for some of my friends, so I decided to bake bread fruit.
In the past, I’ve baked breadfruit in the style of a stuffed pie crushed with a pie stuffed between two thick layers of mashed, cheesy, mash bread with a sprinkle of extra cheese on top. That dish is very popular every time I make it. This time, I wanted to try something a little different, and it was more about how I was going to cook and present the breadfruit.
For a while now I’ve had this idea of baking boils and mushroom fruit in the style of flat bread or pizza crust and then docking it with some different things that anyone can top any kind of flat bread with – meats u salted, tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, flavored oils – so that’s what I was planning to do.
I made mushroom breadfruit baked with Calabresa sausages from Brazil garnished with baby spinach leaves. I had extra mash
he left breadcrumbs behind and decided to bake them into bite-size pieces that could work as an appetizer. Different presentations were made using two different types of pans, both equally appealing. The taste testers, all bread lovers, and even the 2 in the group who tend to be picky for nothing but wanted to eat breadfruit in a certain way – pickled – ate twice , talking about the taste and saying they never thought bread could be prepared that way. Their response reminded me of two things I always tell people about food and some ingredients: – don’t knock it until you try it and have an open mind to eat something you know with it, prepared in a different way, whether it is by cooking technique, the spice, matching the ingredient to another or being prepared by someone else.
In the spirit of trying something familiar in a different way and ideas for the upcoming holidays, I share with you my breadfruit baking experiments. There are no set measurements for any of these things, use what you have and do to suit your tastes. The only thing I would be specific about is the baking time.
Before we get to the ‘recipe’ a couple of things to note.
- Use a cast iron skillet if you have one or any anti-oven skillet. If not, use a baking pan – round or square even a flat baking sheet.
- Depending on the size of the breadfruit, you can make 2 or 3 large bakes and put a different top on each one.
For the foundation:
- Fruit bread
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the top:
Use whatever you like or have on hand and make the dish your own. For this recipe, I used Calabresa sausage.
- Cut and peel the breadfruit, add it to a pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. When the pot comes to a boil, season generously with salt to taste. Cook until the breadcrumbs are tender, with a knife inserted easily.
- Drain the breadfruit well and add it to a large bowl with chunks of butter, grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Mash until smooth; it’s fine if there are small pieces of bread fruit; a little texture is good. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the sausages into thick slices (about 1/4-inch)
- Brush the pan (s) you are using with oil and distribute the mash breadcrumbs in each pan, pressing the mixture evenly into the pan.
- Brush the ends of the breadfruit with a little oil and transfer the oven to bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with sausages or whatever toppings you use then return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle, then remove, divide into portions and serve.
To make delicious bites:
Scoop equal humps of the mushroom fruit and place 2 – 3 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet or in small muffin pans. If available, dot with chopped toppings like the sausage. Brush lightly with oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 – 18 minutes until golden.
Cool in a pan on a wire rack; serve warm or at room temperature.
I roasted garlic with oil and used the flavored oil to brush my pans and mix before baking. I also mashed the roasted garlic and spread it over the baked breadfruit just before adding the sausage.