Sit down, let’s have a delicious Cheddar Cheese Bread Rolls, and pour yourself a steaming cup of coffee. I have something to tell you: You, my dear reader, might not know it, but I was once unfaithful to you.
Up until a few months ago I kept another blog titled “The Home in Paradise”, which chronicled my adventures – and occasional misadventures – as a newly-minted resident of the “Independent Republic of Punta Cana.” After a while, life took over; more work found its way to my door, and I had to close the other blog. It isn’t dead, however, I moved all the material to this blog and plan on writing the occasional mundane post about homemaking, crafting and life in this Caribbean outpost.
When they hear “Punta Cana” most people think of the tourist enclave on the easternmost point of the Dominican Republic. Smart people, it is so. What most people tend to forget is that there are thousands of us who call this area home. Some of us arrived here not in search of jobs, but in a quest for a more tranquil, peaceful life. Few of us plan to leave voluntarily.
Punta Cana is actually the name of the company that started it all, the PuntaCana Group, which eventually lent its name to the entire area. The towns of Bavaro and Verón are the most populous, the private “towns” PuntaCana and Cap Cana having smaller populations.
My husband and I had been visiting this area for decades. Never would I have thought life would bring us here, especially since in those days this was not much an outpost as just a piece of jungle with two hotels stranded in the middle.
Then we had a child, and we wanted to give her the “small town lifestyle” that my husband and I enjoyed as kids.
And here we are. My child has no memory of her birth city. A trip to Santo Domingo is as exciting as a trip abroad (we live a few minutes from the airport), and Aunt Ilana and I joke that we look like campesinas trying to navigate the traffic in Santo Domingo.
We love our “campo”. We love the peace, we love the lack of traffic, the clean air, walking to school, the minimal construction hullabaloo, the unstressed drivers, and the friendly neighbors. Having uninterrupted electric service is nothing to sneer at either.
Moving here was not without sacrifices, but they were well-worth it.
And if you think that Punta Cana is just beaches… well, it is for the most part, but there are hidden treasures to be found. Like the PuntaCana Foundation Ecological Reserve, a long meandering path through unspoiled jungle, following the fresh water lagoons surfacing from an underground river, populated by birds, insects, fish and turtles.
It’s one of a few fresh water sites in an area that does not have a river.
We are creating new memories with our daughter. Nature, love, and books. It makes a childhood so much better.
And speaking of childhood: let’s go way, way back in time, to my own.
There was this bakery in the town of Navarrete that my dad swore made the best bread on that side of the island. I don’t know about that, but they baked rolls of buttery, Cheddar bread that I remember very kindly. Not having the recipe made recreating it quite difficult. I must say it took me about five tries until I was satisfied. I wish I had a pan for baking rolls, but since I am a cheapskate I used my muffin pan, not as pretty but they still taste good.
Another surprise is that after trying it with bread flour, and later with all-purpose flour, I found that all-purpose flour worked better and produced a flakier, more “cakey” bread.
- ¼ teaspoon of sugar
- 2 tablespoon of lukewarm water
- ¼ teaspoon of instant yeast
- ½ cup of milk
- 1 egg
- ⅓ stick of butter
- 1½ cup of all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1¾ cup of grated strong cheddar, divided
- Extra butter for greasing pan
- Extra flour for flouring surface
- Dissolve sugar in warm water. Mix in the yeast and stir. Let it rest for 5 minutes, by then it should be foamy, if it isn't the yeast is too old and needs to be replaced.
- Add flour, milk, egg, butter, salt, and yeast to the mixer bowl.
- Using the kneading attachment, knead for 10 mins (the dough will be loose and shaggy).
- Add 1½ cup of cheddar and mix briefly.
- Cover and let it rise for 2 hours.
- Butter the muffin pan.
- Pour the dough on a clean, floured surface. Press without kneading until it has lost all the gas.
- Divide into 6 balls of equal size. Sprinkle flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to your hands.
- Place each ball into a hole of the muffin pan and let it rise for an hour in a warm, dark place.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 ºF [200 ºC].
- Sprinkle remaining cheese on rolls. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm.