Fry bake is a staple from Trinidad, an island in the southern Caribbean. My grandparents lived and met on that island before they moved to the U.S. You know how grandparents can be – their grandchildren are their entire world. So when I was a kid, every day my granddad would whip up some fry bake. I got to dine on this thick, dainty fried dough every. Single. Day. We’d have it for breakfast with eggs and bacon or salt fish. We’d have it for dinner with rice, baked beans, corned beef and hash. It is the fluffiest, most delicious treat that helps me remember how much I was loved. You’d use the fry bake to scoop up a mouthful of whatever it was served with, and it was just this brilliant, flaky, soft and chewy daydream of bliss.
Another thing I love about fry bake is that it means, to me, how we can grow and change into better versions of ourselves, yet still retain and honor the good in those who raised us. I now make this fry bake as a treat for my partner and as a way of sharing my memories with them. I like to eat entirely plant-based, so my favorite fry bake is served with vegan corned beef (I like to mash up Beyond Meat patties as the protein, and recommend removing the coriander before you chow down), baked beans with homemade caramelized onions, and rice. (Or sometimes just the baked beans, onions and rice!) We also enjoy it as a snack with our favorite no-sugar-added fruit spread and butter.
Fry bake is a fluffy, flakey, doughy savory or sweet fried bread dough. It is an easy way to make your meal that much more indulgent. Its traditional comfort leaves you with warm and hopeful thoughts of the future. In this recipe, I will describe how my granddad used to make it. His hands were his primary tools. You’ll also need a clean, flat surface and a frying pan. This recipe easily serves a family and leaves leftovers.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 4 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ cup water, plus more as needed
- Approx. 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Mix the dough
You’ll want to get nice and familiar with this dough! Take 4 to 5 minutes to gently mix and shape it.
- Add flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl and stir with fingertips as a mixer.
- Add ½ cup of water and continue stirring with fingertips.
- Continue adding ½ cup water at a time, grabbing and squeezing with your fingers until all flour is wet, and the dough is very sticky. Typically, 1 ½ cups of water is enough. The dough should be solid and moldable, thicker than cake dough, like dough to bake bread.
- Roll the dough around, gradually shaping it into a ball. Add pinches of flour as needed to help make it less sticky and easier to handle, but use sparingly. You want it to be sticky and soft, not dry.
- Pull the dough away from the sides and merge into the middle to form the dough ball.
- Pick the dough ball up and drop it into the bowl 10 times.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes.
Form dough balls
- On a lightly floured, flat surface, tear dough ball into smaller, roughly 2-inch balls. Keep the dough covered to prevent it from drying out as you do this.
- Flatten the dough balls by patting them in your hands and pressing the centers.
- Cover the dough balls with kitchen towel.
Fry the dough
- Prepare your frying pan. Pour in 2 cups vegetable oil, or so that it’s at a depth of 2 inches. Heat to medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, shimmering or at 375 degrees F, work in batches and add dough balls so that they are not touching.
- Fry each side for 30 seconds to 2 ½ minutes, until golden brown and puffed.
- Remove the fry bake as completed from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined plate. The bake should have a crispy outer surface and a spongey center.