Warning…once you have gone here, you may never be able to turn back!
Many roadside food vendors will sell these delicious fried-dough treats filled with the traditional saltfish or with equally traditional cheddar cheese. But you can also buy them plain, filled with smoked herring or even with a slab of baked local fish. At home you can fill them with whatever you like, but if you’re out and about discovering Saint Lucia, ask what’s available and have fun exploring the versatility of this local favourite!
In recent times, roadside food vendors will often serve what we call ‘bakes’ rather than ‘floats’. But in many cases, this doughy treat is fried, and so if you’re hankering after a naughty treat, you’ll want to ask for ‘fried bakes’…Okay?
If they are actually baked (an option that is becoming more and more popular due to health reasons) then they are never called ‘floats’ and are just called ‘bakes’. Floats are usually made with yeast as well, which helps make them lighter and ‘floatier’. Don’t worry if you’re a little confused, it’s an ongoing discussion even among Saint Lucian bake/float lovers. So with that confusing introduction complete, “Let’s fry bakes!” 🙂
When fried, both bakes and floats are somewhat like a doughnut, but often not as sweet and altogether more substantial, with a tiny bit of a chewy texture and a pocket of air inside. Be warned…they are addictive!
- 1 lb. flour
- 1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- *2 tbsp baking powder
- Oil for frying
- ½ cup water
- Measure the flour into a large bowl, add the baking soda then mix the butter and sugar into the flour. Dissolve the salt into the water then gradually pour the water and salt mixture into the flour, butter and sugar mixture, mix together and knead until the dough becomes nice and soft. But not too soft!...
- If the dough is too soft add some more flour until dough is smooth, soft and does not stick on your hand. Cover the dough with a damp tea-towel for about 15 minutes.
- Place a large frying pan on a medium heat. When the pan gets hot add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan to about 1 cm deep.
- Cut the dough into small pieces a little bigger than the size of a table-tennis or golf ball.
- Using your hands, roll and shape dough into a ball then flatten and shape into a disk about 1cm thick. Place the flat circular dough into the frying pan of hot oil, when one side is golden brown, turn on the other side. Once both sides are golden brown bake is ready.
- Your delicious bakes can be eaten almost straight away – just allow to cool a bit! Whether you eat them plain or with the traditional cheddar cheese or delicious stewed saltfish and cucumber garnish, you will fall in love with this delicious local treat.
*When yeast is used instead of baking powder the result is float which is lighter and fluffier than bake. When yeast is used, add the yeast to a little of the warm water and sugar, let sit for 5 minutes then add to the flour mixture. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave for 30 minutes to rise. The Float dough is ready to be separated, shaped and fried once the dough rises to about twice the size of the original dough.
Sugar: Traditionally white sugar would be used, but substitute brown if you prefer.
Flour: Traditionally white all-purpose flour would be used, but for a gluten and grain-free alternative, I normally replace white flour with a mix of ⅓ each of coconut flour, cassava flour, plantain flour…
Additions: You could add herbs or other things if you like, why not? Experiment! Have fun!