night of the spiderman

Spiderman the musical. What a concept. With Gotham City’s tilted perspectives, conflicted mutant superhero and super-evil villain, and great acrobatics mimicking computer generated special effects, this Spidey even got angst. Unlike another Gotham superhero, this one also got the girl.  There was never any doubt that the good guy would vanquish evil. It was great escapist fantasy for a couple of hours!

After we got back to the apartment I decided to make a post-show treat. Bulla! In Jamaica, a common shout on the playground was “yu get bulla!” meaning, zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing. I got this recipe from Peter and Karen’s copy of Traditional Jamaican Cookery by Norma Benghiat (pronounced ben-gate). Besides a playground taunt, bulla is a quick bread made from flour and spices. It is always baked as a round loaf. I’ve begun to wonder if “bulla” is derived from the French boule which means “ball” and is a round loaf of bread.  It reminded me of an Irish soda bread and I wondered if this might be another ancestor of the bulla. Its etymology notwithstanding, this bulla came out dense, slightly sweet and delicately spicy.

3 cups flour plus extra for rolling and dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 /2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water (originally 1:1)

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Melt a tablespoon of butter and add 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Use a pastry brush to apply the butter mixture to the bottom and sides of a 9″ round pan. If using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce the heat to 350 and remove the bulla from the oven 5 minutes before cooking time is up.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, allspice. Mix in ginger and  melted butter. Gradually add the sugar water to make a firm dough.

Knead the dough until the sides of the bowl are clean and the ball of dough not sticky. Roll out dough on lightly floured board until it is 1/2 inch thick. Roll the dough into a 9” circle. Dust both sides lightly with flour. Put the dough in the prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Eat the bulla warm with butter and jam.


16 thoughts on “night of the spiderman

  1. many of the bulla recipes are similiar. i tried one (not exactly yours) but it was similiar to yours. I thought if I used less sugar it would simple be less sweet, but it did not come out good at all. It was tough, although it didn’t taste bad. Was yours really nice?

    1. Hi Joy, Reducing sugar is really tricky when baking. I’ve reduced sugar in cakes from 1/4 to 1/3 cup but no more than that because sugar helps make the cake’s structure light and airy. I once reduced the sugar in a chocolate chip recipe by one-half and the cookies came out dry and tough! As for the bulla, the taste was fine but it looked rather anemic. That’s because I used molasses instead of browning or burnt sugar and it’s not the same. I’m going to try the recipe again now that I’ve got a jar of browning sauce. Walk good, Joanie

      1. Hi Joanie, Thanks for your response. When you say you used molasses, what do you mean? Do you mean you used it in place of the 1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water? I don’t see either browning or burnt sugar on the ingredient list (I’m confused). If you put molasses in it, I thought that would make it come out dark looking because molasses is black. I actually like the ‘anaemic’ colour because that’s the colour bullas used to have in Jamaica when I was a child and they tasted great. The bullas you get on the market these days taste nothing like the old fashioned ones, unfortunately. Anyway, do keep me posted – I long to have a great tastig bulla again! What would you say about using honey instead?

      2. Hi Joy, I’m sorry for the confusion! I was thinking of the recipe for Easter bun. The original bulla recipe had 1:1 ratio of water to sugar but I thought it was too much water. But I reduced the sugar and I think the bulla needed more sugar to build the structure. It’s a recipe that needs more tinkering with! You could try the honey mixed with water–not sure about the proportions though. I’m glad you enjoyed the bulla recipe, so I hope you’ll come back and visit my blog–it’s fun chatting with another Jamaican. I’m playing around with a gizzarda in my head–not sure when it’ll be kitchen-ready!

      3. Oh, I get you now! The thing with Jamaican food is it tastes great but for the most part it’s unhealthy in a major way! No wonder so many jamaicans have diabetes and high blood pressure. I love food but I don’t want to walk down that road! Anyway, let me know how it turns out when you’ve tinkered some more. I have not properly browsed your other recipes but I will. If I bake a bun I will eat it ALL one time. LOL And especially since I no longer buy those things commercially . . . great connecting with you too!

      4. Hi Joy, I’ve enjoyed connecting with you too. It sounds like you’re a fellow foodie as well! So, if you’d like to be notified of new recipes on my blog, I suggest you sign up for email notifications. The button is on my homepage .

        I hope to hear from you again!

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