Sweet bread, a cross between a rich bread & dessert, is made from yeast dough, thus requiring home bakers to work like elves all night long to mix, knead, & bake the breads. The sweetness comes from a combination of sugar & dried fruits, while spices typically include cloves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, & cinnamon. Some bakers combine dried fruits like raisins, currents, & prunes in a large bottle & steep them in rum or brandy for several weeks - or months - before adding to the batter. Whole pieces of dried fruits, including candied red & green cherries, are artistically laid in the top of the dough to make a signature design.
Traditionally, even neediest families had a big ham at Christmastime. This was either purchased from pennies saved or as a gift from a thoughtful neighbor, employer, or even shopkeeper. Decades ago, it was common for Virgin Islands' grocers to hand out hams to their customers in appreciation for their patronage during the year.
Island residents today line up outside refrigerated trailers to purchase their Christmas pine imported from the U.S. main-land. Long ago, they instead went in search of an inkberry tree or the brown dried stalk of a century plant or agave that had flowered a few months prior. Both of these grew in the wild; the inkberry in the islands' forests and the century plant or agave on the arid eastern end of the islands. The trees or stalks were brought inside, propped up in a rock-filled container & decorated with items such as small candies, crepe paper or bits of fabric.
Courtesy of www.virginislandsthisweek.com/articles/virgin-islands-holiday-traditions.html
Download free recipes from: http://webpac.uvi.edu/imls/ces_uvi/hmeco/holidaycooking.pdf
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