Floats, fry bake, fried bread, puri, poori all refer to basically the same thing, delicious deep fat fried dough. Practically everyone where I live in Trinidad and Tobago loves floats. As the name suggests when the dough is fried it puffs up and floats to the surface of the oil. It can be served with a number of sides, although when it's hot, butter or cheese is the first option for many. It has become a favourite for beach goers as "bake and shark". In fact, it's almost always served as a savoury breakfast, brunch or dinner item.
Why are floats deep fried? Contrary to some opinions deep fried foods tend to be less greasy overall. This of course does not apply if you are sauteing, searing or pan frying. As your dough deep fries, the inside cooks at the same time as the outside, with only a small amount of oil staying on the crust. Which is why when the floats puff up they are almost done cooking. The remainifastng time is mainly for browning. The other benefit to deep frying is that the crust is crisped, which is a universally appealing outcome. To get the best result make sure that when you put the floats in the skillet that they are evenly and fully submerged in the oil. I would often spoon oil over the top of the float as it fries ensuring that it is consistently covered.
Can you substitute the flour in the recipe with something else? The short answer is yes but the texture might be different. Used on their own I find that starchier flours like rice or corn makes a crispy crackly crust with a more hollow interior. However, I have swapped the oat flour for buckwheat flour and the floats were pretty decent. I have used only rice flour with the starches and still I was not disappointed. So what I am saying is, you can certainly use the recipe with whatever you have in your pantry. A blend of different flours that include starch will generally work better.
Floats are best served warm. They will begin to deflate at some point while they are resting though they are still pretty good.
I would love to hear your feedback if you try the recipe, hope you enjoy it!
Try my recipe for Banana Fried Baked (Banana Puri)
Gluten Free, Vegan Floats (Fry Bake, Puri, Poori) Recipe
½ cup brown rice flour*
2 tbsp potato starch*
2 tbsp tapioca starch*
¼ cup oat flour
½ tsp xanthan gum*
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp instant yeast
½ cup warm water (add more by tbsp as needed)
Flour or starch for rolling out the dough
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Notes: You can substitute the rice four and starches with an equivalent amount of a 1 to 1 or all purpose flour blend (i.e. ¾ cup of flour). If your blend already has xanthan gum omit it from this recipe.
Place the flour, starches, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl, mix well
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the water and knead or mix until thoroughly combined. The dough should be wet and slightly sticky more liquid than a regular recipe made with wheat. If necessary, keep adding water 1 tbsp at a time until you get that consistency, even if you need more than the recipe specifies. Knead the flour until it forms a smooth ball, this may take some time but keep going, the dough will improve with time.
Set the dough aside to rest for at least ½ hour
Toward the end of the rest, heat oil to medium heat in a skillet, use enough for deep frying
Prepare a floured surface to roll out the floats. Pinch off pieces of the dough, knead again into a ball until smooth. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough and shape as desired. Carefully add the shaped dough to the hot oil and cook until the dough puffs up and floats. Each bake must be completely covered in oil for this to work properly, you can spoon oil over the top of the float as it fries to ensure that it the entire thing puffs up. Once it puffs up, flip and cook until lightly browned. You can make a few at a time but do not over crowd your skillet.
Drain the floats on paper towel and serve while still warm