If my memory serves me right the horns of the bread van would erupt loudly throughout the tunnel around three o’clock in the afternoon. To prepare us for its arrival and timed stay, the driver of the hollowed-out minivan, stacked with metal shelves cradling the day’s fresh-baked breads and pastries from the roads many potholes and less than perfect terrain. The driver, pressing hard on the van’s horn, two or three times, sending a signal that could be heard even in the deepest of Saturday afternoon naps. This tunnel I’ve walked through daily for twenty-one years of my life is not historic. Used as a railway, transporting agriculture like cocoa and sugar cane from field to manufacturer as other tunnels on the island. No, its existence continues to connect the ever-growing number of inhabitants that live ‘through d tunnel’- the only left-handed extension off Charles Street to the rest of the village. My grandfather’s house where I grew up still stands on the second hill after tunnel. With its bird-picked mango and dry coconut laden yard that greets you down the asphalt road at the foot of the hill.
Back then, while the local bakeries behind the mobile bake shops were welcomed by the villagers for its convenience; providing families with hot hops & sandwich loaves, sugary milk biscuits and sweet-smelling coconut tarts right to their doorsteps for evening tea and breakfast the next morning. I was only concerned with scoring a satisfying slice of a currant roll. The close yet not-too-far distance my house stood from the tunnel gave me a head start, meeting the bread van in the nick of time as it approached my house to buy an afternoon refreshment. Gathering-up at the last minute a dollar in quarters or four bobs as I grew up calling each twenty-five-cent piece to buy a slice of a currant roll from the bread van as its loud engine neared the big house on the hill.
Remembering, as if it were yesterday. After my small purchase, I’d sometimes skip from the front to back yard to the sounds of the bird’s competitive squawks in the mid-afternoon heat. To take a seat at the base of the plum tree—one of the biggest trees in a yard that once occupied many a yard fowls, goat, cattle and my Aunty Hazel’s fifty plus budgies at one time. To devour the sweet treat, leaving no crumb left behind before the warmth of the small plastic bag softens the crunch of the roll’s flaky crust.
Nothing says delicious joy like a sweet, cinnamon scented currant roll. My love for baking and consuming it runs deep. As though this baked good is as much a part of me as is my Trini accent. A recipe I can make without reading the words, with patience and simple ingredients, what better recipe to share after a hiatus from blogging.
Over the years, it took a few tries to get the dough recipe correct. But using a quick puff pastry dough, that took the hard part out. The currant, sugar & spice filling and bake time is easy from there on out. With the use of very cold butter to create a laminated dough, I suggest you make this recipe on weekends when there is much time a prepare and enjoy the process.
You are going to need a stand mixer with paddle attachment, 1 large baking sheet, bowls and 1 small pastry brush.
To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, cubed butter and toss with your fingertips until the butter is coated with flour and looks crumbly. Combine the salt, cold water and add to the flour all at once. Mix on a low speed with a paddle attachment until the dough loosely forms. Turn out onto a floured work station (or counter top) and press the dough together with your hands into a rectangle shape. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Using flour to dust your counter top once more, roll out the dough to a long rectangle shape. About 2 inches think. Fold one third of the dough over and the other end, on top of that (similar to a letter fold).
Repeat the rolling and letter folding or three-fold, three more times. A total of four three-folds. Turning the dough 90 degrees each time before rolling. Tightly wrapping in plastic and refrigerator for 30 minutes between folds. Wrap dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using. Dough can be refrigerated or frozen.
16 oz, Dried Currants
2 Tbsp, dark Rum
1 tsp, Vanilla Extract
1 cup, Sugar
2 tsp, ground Cinnamon
I love to brighten-up the flavor of the dried currants by ‘macerating’ in a bit of dark rum and vanilla paste or extract. In a small bowl, I toss the currants in only 2 Tbsp of dark rum and 1 tsp of vanilla paste to barely coat them. Tossing them every so often for no less than 30 mins.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
On a floured counter top, using the rectangular shape of the chilled dough and with a bit of elbow grease, roll evenly into a thinner, larger rectangular shaped dough. Liberally sprinkle the cinnamon sugar all over and to the ends of the dough before adding the ‘macerated’ currants the same way. Gently press the currants and sugar into the dough to help it stay in place. Begin rolling the long side of the dough with a small and tight fold. Using your fingers to control and your palms to continue rolling the dough until you have a large rolled log. Press the ends with your fingertips before moving to a large baking sheet.
In a small bowl, create an egg wash by mixing the egg and 1 Tbsp of water together. With a pastry brush, moisten the entire log. At this point I like to sprinkle any leftover cinnamon sugar before placing in the oven to bake for 35-45 mins or until golden brown.