Agege Bread: Background information when reading Butter Honey Pig Bread

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Butter Honey Pig Bread

by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi X
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Nov 2020, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
Buy This Book

About this Book

Agege Bread

This article relates to Butter Honey Pig Bread

Print Review

Loaf of agege breadAgege (pronounced "a-GAY-gay") bread is a sweet white bread known for its unique soft and dense texture. It is a common food in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos, where it is produced by local bakeries and sold by vendors on the streets. In Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi, Taiye attempts to master baking Agege bread, but finds that her version fails compared to "the particularly dense and stretchy texture of the loaves she buys from the hawkers" in Obalende, a neighborhood in Lagos.

Industrialized baking was introduced to Nigeria by Amos Shackleford, a Jamaican entrepreneur known as the "Bread King," who in 1913 began a bread business that would expand into a widespread empire. Immigrants from the West Indies like Shackleford (many of whom were former slaves or their descendants) regularized the production of bread in Nigeria. Shackleford's company distributed its products to various locations, including Agege, a suburb of Lagos. Distribution was interrupted during the transition to Nigerian independence in 1960, and shortly thereafter, the production of "Agege bread" began at a bakery opened by Alhaji Ayokunnu in the area.

As a staple food, Agege bread is valued for its relatively long shelf life. It is often served with eggs and prepared as a breakfast food but may also simply be eaten with butter and in a variety of other ways. When Taiye finally manages to bake a satisfactory Agege bread, she uses it to make a chicken sandwich for her mother. The bread is known for its signature four-cornered shape, which results from being baked in a covered pan. As the cover prevents the bread from rising above the top of the pan, the loaf remains in the form of a square. Ingredients in Agege bread can differ but generally include flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil or butter, and a dough conditioner or "bread improver" to strengthen the bread and give it the stretchier texture that Taiye desires.

Potassium bromate, a cheap and popular dough conditioner, is banned in Nigeria as well as many other countries (though it is legal in others, including the United States) because it has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but it is still sometimes used in the making of Agege bread. In Fresh Agege Bread, a documentary by Chika Okoli that explores the past and current role of Agege bread in Nigerian society, the filmmakers bring some bread purchased on the street to a lab to be tested for potassium bromate and find that the levels violate legal standards.

Taiye eventually achieves the right texture for her Agege bread "without the need for potassium bromate, or any other dodgy preservatives" by combining bread flour with boiling water to create scalded flour for a natural dough conditioner. The scalded flour technique is used in Scandinavian and Asian baking as a way of heating up the starch in the flour to give it a more gelatinous quality before adding it to the bread mixture. Some home cooking sites that share tips for making Agege bread, like Nigerian Food TV, also recommend using the tangzhong method, a technique with Japanese origins that was popularized by Taiwanese cookbook author Yvonne Chen and involves pre-cooking a small amount of flour with liquid. Yewande Komolafe's New York Times Agege bread recipe calls for warm water or milk but does not require any dough enhancement additions or methods.

Agege bread, courtesy of Eat Well Africa

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Elisabeth Cook

This article relates to Butter Honey Pig Bread. It first ran in the January 6, 2021 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Office of Historical Corrections
    The Office of Historical Corrections
    by Danielle Evans
    In The Office of Historical Corrections, the second story collection from Danielle Evans, readers ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Dutch House
    by Ann Patchett

    The Dutch House is my introduction to Ann Patchett, which, after reading it, surprises me. I had ...

  • Book Jacket: Nights When Nothing Happened
    Nights When Nothing Happened
    by Simon Han
    A quiet atmosphere of dread permeates Simon Han's subdued debut novel Nights When Nothing Happened. ...
  • Book Jacket: Take It Back
    Take It Back
    by Kia Abdullah
    In Kia Abdullah's novel Take It Back, sexual violence advisor Zara Kaleel becomes involved in a case...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Prophets
    by Robert Jones Jr.

    A stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Fortunate Ones
    by Ed Tarkington

    An engrossing story of class, love, and loyalty for fans of Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Waiting for the Night Song
by Julie Carrick Dalton
A startling and timely debut about friendships forged in childhood and ruptured by the high price of secrets.
Win This Book!
Win The House on Vesper Sands

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell

Introducing a detective duo for the ages who unlock the secrets of a startling Victorian mystery.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T T T Light F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.