Wednesday, July 1, 2015

International Bake Date: Summer Island Girls Edition

I am so excited to share our bake date with you guys again. Gathering for the summer proved to be a challenge with exam pressures, assignment deadlines and looming vacation travels but we island girls managed to show up.  Because Island Girls always make time for fun. This time around we had Antigua, Cape Verde and of course Grenada holding it down in the kitchen in the hot, blazing 40 C temperature of Chongqing.

Cape Verde food culture is a tasty combination of European and African cuisine adapted to a tropical climate. So my sis served up a caramel banana pudding. And when we asked were she gotta her skills, it was none other than her mother.

First the caramel was prepared by melting sugar and dissolving into oil, a skill that any master probably has burn wounds like a badge of honour and my friend wore hers with pride.

Pour in the caramel while hot

Once the caramel is poured into a tray that can accommodate high heat, spread around the bottom and sides evenly before the temperature of the caramel lowers and movement becomes difficult.
Caramel after it sets

The final step before pouring in the batter is to place the medium-sized sliced bananas along the bottom and sides of the tray.

Try this with whatever fruit you have available

Now it's time to cover the fruit with a prepared batter. You can use your favourite vanilla cake or in this case pudding recipe.

The beauty of the finished product is that the batter covers and cooks the banana creating a unified texture coupled with a strong banana flavour...

And a heavenly slice of caramel banana pudding

For a change we had some savoury tones. My Antiguan friend decided to attempt a vegetarian pizza.
Pizzas in China can range from spicy chicken wings to fruit salad and mayo dressing. So after a while, no topping seems strange or inadequate.

Of course we made sure to have some cheese available. One tip I have found very useful is beefing up the seasoning or pizza sauce. Even when it comes to popular brands and flavours, pizza and tomato sauces tend to be on the plain side. However, by reheating with your personal spices, your pizza will be more enjoyable.

So while the pizza bakes...Ever realized that many countries in the African and Caribbean region use red, green and yellow as their national colours? This is not a coincidence. As the story goes, Ethiopia was one of the most colonialism resistant states of its time and guess their flag colour? Pretty soon, everyone on #teaminspire looked to Ethiopia for the official colours of success. So think about that the next time you see a red, green and yellow or red, green and black flag.

and After
And finally, what did the chica from the Spice Isle bring? Something spicy of course! I always play around with Ree Drummond's Pumpkin Cinnamon rolls recipe by substituting one of the main ingredients: brown sugar. If you have read my article on the expertise needed to buy brown sugar in China, you may already be aware of the fact that plain brown sugar is almost impossible to find. Therefore, I usually concede to using ginger-flavoured brown sugar. In addition to the fact that the sugar is more a damp powder than a dry crystal, I have gotten used to texture and the way it affects the final product.

Roll it out, Wrap it up. Slice it up. Set it for 15 mins......

The longer you allow it to rise the softer and larger the rolls
and presto, beautiful, bouncy rolls!

Icing: Icing sugar, butter, vanilla and milk for consistency

There you have it. Island girls love baking just as much as anyone else. But you can bet that with our coloured shorts, island music and ability to laugh at everything, we have way more fun.