Bun and cheese is a staple Caribbean snack enjoyed by us at home all year round but especially during Easter. With it being popular during this time of year, I had to ask myself why and how did this deep, rich, spiced bread become a favourite of West Indians.
The origins of spiced bun are not quite clear, however, it is widely believed that bun and cheese was derived from English hot cross buns, which were traditionally eaten by the British on Good Friday, with the cross symbolising the crucifixion of Jesus.
The tradition eventually became a staple in Caribbean culture, when English 'missionaries' brought Christianity to the island of Jamaica in the 17th Century. Easter gradually became observed on the island along with the eating of hot cross buns.
In true Caribbean style, over time, the snack was developed and adapted where it was made into a loaf with the addition of molasses, spice and sometimes malt or Guinness. Researching recipes and comparing spiced bun to hot cross buns, I noticed the absence of yeast makes spiced bun feel more like a dense cake in comparison to the buns which are essentially a sweet, spiced bread.
Here's my recipe below:
1 Can Guinness (440ml)
180g Dark Brown Sugar
75g Molasses or Black Treacle
2 tbsp/30g Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 orange, zest and juice
510g Plain Flour
1/2/2.5g tsp salt
1 tbsp/15g baking powder
1 tsp/5g cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg, grated
1 tsp/5g mixed spice
1 tsp/5g cinnamon
2 tsp/10g fresh ginger, grated
30g mixed peel
1. Heat oven on 320F/160C
2. In a pan add Guinness, dark brown sugar, molasses or black treacle, fresh ginger and butter.
3. Put on a low heat and stir until everything is incorporated and sugar has dissolved, set aside to cool.
4. In a bowl, sieve flour and add baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, salt and orange zest.
5. Add raisins and mixed peel to flour and fold through so they are coated in the flour evenly.
6. Add vanilla, egg and orange juice and fold into flour.
** note: ensure Guinness mix is cool first before you do the next step, otherwise it will scramble your eggs - you don't want that! **
7. Finally add your Guinness mix to the bowl and fold evenly until everything is combined evenly.
8.Grease a loaf tin, line with baking paper and pour in the mix.
9. Bake for 1 hour (approx) - to check, insert a knife in the centre, if it comes out clean it's done!
Serve with butter and cheese!