Sweetbreads, Sweet bread and Sweetbread by Shana Dawn Lewis

So much has happened in the world that has sent many of us into a spin (putting it mildly), and we have needed something to keep us going… So, aside from praying and reading our Bibles daily, there has been another satisfying daily constant in many a household this past year… baking!

Many of us have taken to baking to break up the daily routine of watching TV, home schooling, endless Zoom meetings and talking to the cat! Baking was filling a gap, as we were no longer able to do things that give us joy: coffee shop trips, lunch with friends… even leaving the house to commute to work.

This Easter, I have an easy but yummy traditional recipe for you that can be enjoyed all year around, but it just seems to taste extra special at Easter time. Before I give you the recipe, though, I want to tell you a quick and funny story of how I found out there is more than one type of ‘sweetbread’.

When I was at catering college, my chef tutor told the class that we would be working with sweetbread in our next lesson. Of course, I was excited they were going to be introducing some Caribbean cooking into our lesson. When I next returned to that lesson – still all very excited – I looked eagerly at the workstation that housed the ingredients we would be working with that day – similar to the ones listed below I would have thought. Instead, what I saw was a pale, pinkish-looking slab of flesh that looked like brains. I retched at the sight of it, and asked my chef tutor where the sweetbread was.  He said: “You’re looking at it.” I looked back at it and asked: “But where’s the flour, coconut and mixed fruit?” He laughed at me and said: “You’re talking about sweetbread, from the Caribbean; this is sweetbreads, as in offal.”

That was the day I found out that there are: sweetbreads (plural), as in meat (animal pancreas); sweet bread, as in bread with sugar (brioche), and sweetbread (singular), as in a coconut and fruit bread!

So this is a recipe for sweetbread!

Ingredients 

24oz/680g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
12oz/340g granulated sugar
2oz/60g cherries halved
4oz/125g mixed dry fruit
8oz/250g coconut*
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1 egg, well-beaten
3/4 of a cup of milk
1 teaspoon of almond essence
80z/250g of butter, melted and cooled

(* I used dried coconut, so before starting I mixed the coconut and the milk together and let it soak for about 15 minutes to use later in the recipe.) 

  • Put the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients together with your hand(s). You can use a mixer or spoon, but I like to use my hands to make sweetbread. 
  • Add the mixed fruit, cherries and sugar – again, using your hand(s).
  • It gets really messy at this point, as you’re about to add the wet ingredients. Whisk the 2 eggs into the milk and coconut mixture, and add to the large bowl. Also add the melted butter, along with the almond essence, into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, mixing with your hand(s) until all the ingredients are fully incorporated and you have soft, wet movable mixture in the bowl.  
  • Preheat your oven to 325F/170C, and continue to mix the ingredients. 
  • Now all you need to do is grease your tins of choice, and pour in the mixture – up to about 3/4 of the tin. I decided to use a round 7” tin and a 6-hole muffin tin to bake my sweetbread. Once your oven is ready, put both tins onto the middle rack and bake for about 60 minutes, or until you do the knife test. Insert a knife into the middle of the bread, and if it is clean when you remove it, the bread is cooked and ready to come out. If not, and there is still wet mixture on it, then leave it in the oven for a little longer and repeat the test until the knife comes out clean. 
  • Make a glaze by mixing 1 tablespoon of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar, Brush the glaze over your sweetbread, sprinkle a little sugar over the top and put it back into the oven for about 5 minutes to crust over. 
  • Remove from the tins and allow to cool down. Your sweetbread will crumble when you cut into it – no matter how sharp your knife is. This is very normal, and an indication you’ve done a good job!

Your sweetbread is now ready to serve. You can eat it just as it is or, for an extra touch of loveliness and indulgence, you can spread it with some butter. Oh yes, and don’t forget to share with other members of your household – neighbours, too. You can’t keep all that sweet goodness to yourself. It is Easter, after all! 

Have a great one. From me, Shana Dawn Lewis of Christlike Creations.  

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