Bread Made Easy: Homemade with a Guyanese Twist

I'm a bread lover. Though it's probably more accurate to say that I'm a carb-lover or an 'anything that tastes way too good' lover if I'm going to be honest. Breads just happen to fall in all of the above categories. Unfortunately, this most likely translates to I'm the 'enjoying this is bad for me' kind of eater. That being said, I'm sure many of you understand this and some may have even suffered the unsightly weight gain that goes along with loving the naughty foods that we ought to avoid. But how do you fix the cravings, especially if bread is your guilty pleasure? It goes so well with everything - literally. A delicious piece of bread can enhance a sauce with one dip, make soup even more scrumptious, and by itself you know it's better with butter. This still leaves you loving bread, craving the taste, and probably thinking of your favorite sandwich as you read this.

Homemade Guyanese Bread or 'plait bread'
Homemade Guyanese Bread or 'plait bread' | Source

...the "secret"

Recently I took a trip home to my native Guyana and realized that my love for this delectable delight started when I was young and growing up there. Somehow I still managed to be fifteen pounds under my healthy average weight while eating at least eight slices of bread for supper. I was completely appalled that I could gain thirty pounds in America while I lost six pounds within one week of arriving in Guyana with the same eating habits and love of bread. How could this be? Then the ah-ha moment... Every bakery in the land had fresh, organic,homemade bread. And, when Guyanese homes did not want to buy 'shop bread' they all knew how to bake their own right at home (sometimes rivaling the master bakers). This was the bloody secret these perfect size seven, hourglass shaped women had been keeping all these years while I felt guilty about loving my breads. They knew how to bake and did not hesitate to do so, controlling every single ingredient in the loaf so that maximum nutrition and optimal health was maintained without a drop of buttery guilt. How could I have missed this? Well, no more. I was going to claim my Guyanese heritage and get down to business. It was time to get busy and get baking some traditional home-style Guyanese Bread.

Well, having a crazy Guyanese mother comes with some advantages. Especially when she's a star quality chef and is probably the reason I'm always on the hunt for good food. My mother grew up in Hopetown, a small village in Berbice. Unlike my Georgetown life in the city, Hopetown is considered a country village with the strictest of Guyanese traditional upbringings. Where little girls are supposed to be as sweet as sugar and spice - this involves needlework and 'picking rice'...ensuring that my mother would learn from age 8 years old to cook everything nice. So who better to accost than mommy dearest for a homemade bread recipe that would get me back to basics. I was right. The outcome was amazing and resulted in a new appreciation for healthy baking that saved me hundreds of dollars when I gave up buying bread to make my own.

...it's not a secret after all?

So how do you repeat this magic? Easy. And, did you know it wasn't that big a secret at all (once I realized just how easy it actually was). At first I thought I needed a really expensive breadmaker. Being the lazy bum I am, it never occured to me that along with hormone-free, organic bread these beautiful women also had arms that looked like Michele Obama. Wouldn't you know it? That's right...it was from mixing the bread. So you get a healthy meal and a workout all in the same effort. Well why not save the money on the breadmaker, too. I got down to business reproducing my mother's recipe.

The Tools: a large metal bowl, a whisk, a large wooden spoon, & a wooden cutting board (used only for bread & never for meat, as wood is pourous).

The Ingredients:

· 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet )

· ½ cup warm water

· ½ cup organic whole milk (soy milk will suffice for lactose-free )

· ¼ cup brown sugar

· ¾ teaspoon sea salt (this is a personal preference, regular salt will do )

· 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil (olive oil is best here )

· 3 cups unbleached flour

This list will produce one large loaf of bread that yeilds about 12 servings or slices. It's a great way to test the recipe and start out small just in case you're not too sure about what's what.

Homemade Guyanese Bread
Homemade Guyanese Bread | Source

The Process:

1. Pour the yeast into the large metal bowl and add ¼ cup of the warm water. Put about 1 tablespoon of the sugar into the mix, stir in well and then cover with a kitchen towel. Leave this for about 15 minutes. The yeast will activate and become white foam.

2. Using a whisk, add the salt and oil/melted butter into the mix. Add the rest of the water and the milk, still whisking. If you are not a vegetarian, this is an excellent place to add in 1 egg. It adds a very rich taste to the bread in the end. Slowly whisk in the first cup of flour, then the second. By this time the mixture will begin to thicken so add the third cup with the wooden spoon and stir. The mixture will become thick enough to start sticking to the spoon. Stir the mix into a nice soft ball. Though I prefer to keep it to the spoon (that whole lazy bum factor and my pretty nails, and all) my mother will then trade in the wooden spoon for a traditional hand roll at this point. After achieving a nice soft mix of all the ingredients just cover with kitchen towel again. Leave mix to rise until doubled. This takes about an hour, leaving you some time to clean up the mess you’ve made.

3. Now you also have a bit of time to prepare your baking pan. Though my mother keeps it traditional with the Pyrex glass loaf pan or metal bread pans, I have discovered a neat little trick to guarantee a smooth golden-brown loaf every time. It’s your standard foil pan. That’s right…just the $2 foil pan. It really is a smart piece of science. The heat is perfectly distributed and provides a non-stick surface, ensuring your bread slides right onto the cutting board for immediate slicing while steaming hot. Just get a piece of paper towel, evenly spread butter at the bottom and sides, then sprinkle and dust with flour. Set aside and leave for when your loaf is oven-ready. End result = no washing when you’re done. What could be better than that? I don’t know about you, but it makes the bread taste that much sweeter knowing I didn’t have to deal with another round of dishes.

4. When the dough has risen, mix one more time. This time you’ll have to get your hands dirty to punch it down country style. Knead for a few minutes. You’re now ready to shape your loaf. Spread some flour on the wooden cutting board and place your dough to shape the loaf to your liking. Place it in the pan and let rise a little longer before baking.

5. Place into the oven and bake at 350° degrees Fahrenheit (175° Celsius) for 20 – 30 minutes. I’d say watch the bread and start checking after 15 minutes to gauge the strength of your oven. When the top is a nice golden-brown, remove from oven and dig right in. I enjoy rubbing a little butter on the top to keep it nice and soft.

...ok, what's next?

Next?! There is no next. That's it... Lather, rinse, repeat. It's that simple. No breadmaker, no mess in the end, and a tasty treat that you can enjoy guilt-free without sacrificing your health. If high blood pressure is your issue then definitely go with the sea salt. If diabetes is the problem, this works well with Splenda or substitutes. So you're a vegetarian...ignore the optional egg. Okay - you're lactose intolerant. Use soy milk. Otherwise the organic whole milk will do just as well. Oh wait...you have high cholesterol. Pay good attention to that section that says use the olive oil (first cold pressed, extra virgin) instead of the melted butter. Perhaps you want to go completely organic and hormone-free. You may then have noticed that every ingredient on the list comes in that variety. You can even substitute the unbleached flour for whole wheat flour. The only way to not enjoy this would be if you were allergic to wheat. Otherwise, happy baking and let me know how you liked it. Authentic home-style baking can't get easier than this.

© 2011 Guyana Masala

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Comments 36 comments

misteralt1 5 years ago

This looks good. I will have to ask someone with a machine to make it so I can try it out.


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

LOL! Mister Alt, you are quite hilarious. I'm glad you like. How about this? You try it without the machine so you can taste it without having to wait. Then tell me if it was as easy as I think it is. Deal?


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

Thanks for the Recipe. Nice...


Mom 5 years ago

Well, of all my 3 children I never guessed my Lily of the Valley would be the one to pick up the love of cooking! You added a very nice twist to my Guyanese bread & your writing is so lively it made me want to keep reading. I couldn't help but laugh. Excellent work. Coconut Buns should be your next recipe. We'll make some together.


Pia 5 years ago

Took you long enough to give us the recipe. You've been holding it hostage for quite a while!! The suspense was killing me!!!


sassyabby1 profile image

sassyabby1 5 years ago from ATL

Thanks for the tasty recipe. Do you have any recipes for Guayanese flavored breads -- if there is such a thing?


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 5 years ago from New Jersey Author

You know, there are some flavoured breads from Guyana. Salara & Cassava Breads with SweetBread...I'm a fan of SweetBread myself. I'll have to post that one.


Guest Reader 5 years ago

Really nice. Will definitely try this. Loving the whole lazy bum factor consideration.


Aaron 4 years ago

This is the first accurate recipe I have seen, Im about to try it. Keeping my fingers crossed. Can we plait the bread? If so, do we still rise it for an hour and then braid, or braid and let it rise?

Thanks, Aaron


Samantha 4 years ago

Oh my it actually worked. Thank you


BreadLover 4 years ago

It does work!


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Aaron, you can plait the bread by separating it into 3 small sections then rolling in your hands to long pieces (like a rope). Then just place on the cutting board & braid. You don't have to let it raise anymore of you want a tight plait, but if you're just looking for the pretty braided finish on top then let it raise for another 30 minutes. Hope this helps! Thanks for trying the bread. Let us know how it worked out.


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Awesome! So glad it worked out. Let us know how it tasted when you get a chance.


Aaron 4 years ago

I think I've been getting better and better doing this bread everytime. I love guyana bread, and my wife loves it too, since I'm the main cook, I always cook what the both of us like. At first when I made this bread, I let it rise first, then punched it down and then separated and plaited it. After plaiting, it didn't raise much, and the loaf came out very stiff. But after a while of trial and error, I haven't gotten it to come out perfect, but its still soft enough. The egg also helps a lot


Shabana 4 years ago

Thanks for this recipe. I will try it tomorrow.

I also love your writing style :)


Ronda 4 years ago

I love this recipe I will try it,and let you know how it work out for me. Thanks.


GT Reader 4 years ago

as a Guyanese person I have to say this is extremely close to the actual thing. Nice. You're making me want to actually bake.


Doctore Evile profile image

Doctore Evile 4 years ago from the Northeast of the U.S.A

I've tried the bread. It is goooood.


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

You know, if you want the bread to be softer try decreasing the flour a bit & increasing the water/milk. Self-rising flour is also a great trick. When the book is published I'll have to include my latest secret ingredient for ultimate softness.


Erica 4 years ago

Does your mom have a recipe for tennis rolls? The ones I've seen online don't look right to me.


Reshma 4 years ago

My son and husband love this bread . It is so easy to make. Thanks so much for making this recipe so easy and tasty. Do you have a tennis roll recipe?


Doctore Evile profile image

Doctore Evile 4 years ago from the Northeast of the U.S.A

This is good bread. Thanks for the post.


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

well I've been working on the chutney now...so there's more to look forward to.


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

I'll be heading to Guyana this holiday to finish up a cookbook...I'll definitely include tennis rolls now. I hadn't thought of it until you asked. I'll have to post an easy recipe here as well.


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

I'll be working on it shortly. You're the second reader that has convinced me to do one.


lilly 3 years ago

sounds good will try soon bath settlement lady. Will let u know


sistersizzle 3 years ago

Hi there, will you still be posting a tennis roll recipe?


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 3 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

I use to bake bread every weekend, but got out of the habit when the kids left home and other things began to occupy my time. I really should bake some again. Thanks for the inspiration and the recipe.


Crissandra Singh 3 years ago

Hi there,

Thank you for posting this recipe and sharing your mom's secrets with us! I do have a question, I tried the recipe (I plaited my loaves btw) and my bread didn't rise, how did you get your bread to be so tall in the middle? Did you put one loaf into a standard size foil pan or two loaves? Also I put my bread to rise in an oven with a pot of steaming water. Any advice would help! Thanks again!


Crissandra Singh 3 years ago

Sorry, I should've clarified, the bread did rise, but it wasn't as tall as yours is what I meant to say. It was kind of flat and it looked like the braid was separating at the seams. Any advice? Thanks so much!


thelmaedwards311@yahoo.ca 2 years ago

When do i put in the rest of the sugar? i didn't see any information on that. do i add it in with the flour?


GetitScene profile image

GetitScene 2 years ago from The High Seas

Interesting!


Pia 2 years ago

I love this bread, especially smelling it cook at 5 AM!


Guyana Masala profile image

Guyana Masala 22 months ago from New Jersey Author

Quick tips:

1. For a softer bread & better rise add a tsp of baking powder

2. Let the bread sit in the pan for an hour before placing in oven, it will help to get more of a fluffy rise

3. Add the rest of the sugar in before putting in the flour. That's helps it dissolve better....

Hope this helps guys!


Kristina 21 months ago

Thank you. I am going to try this recipe this week. I tried another recipe on the weekend and it tasted more like tennis rolls than Plait bread. Looking forward to this :)


Terron 8 days ago

Is there no limit to your talents! Great recipe and article. I'm going try it.

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