Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coconut Bread

Coconut Bread…could anything sound more intriguing? Last night I was thinking about how fast spring has come and how beautiful this time of year is with the bulbs blooming and the trees blossoming, the smell of fresh cut grass in the air and warm days playing in the yard with my kids.  I felt like baking something that was spring-ish.  So, instead of searching through my pile of yummy sounding recipes, I simply googled "must bake bread".  That's how I came across this recipe from smittenkitchen for coconut bread. I had never heard of such a thing, but it sounded like something that I would have to make first thing in the morning.

If you are wanting something to put turkey and mayo on, then keep on going because this is as much "bread" as zucchini bread.  In other words, slab a bit of butter on the top and eat as a snack! This is a quick bread, which means that it doesn't have any yeast to activate and let rise.  It is simple, delicious and (obviously) quick.

Just look at that heavenly thing!

I love this bread for many different reasons.  First, I love the level of sweetness.  Note that I didn't say I loved how sweet it is.  It isn't a real sugary-sweet bread, but it has this subtle hint of sweet that comes from the coconut.  The second thing I love is the touch of cinnamon.  I'm not a huge fan of cinnamon because it can over power everything.  But in this recipe it is just a slight taste at the end of each bite.  Finally, I love the texture of this bread.  The outside is the perfect "soft" crunch (for those who don't speak in the same code as I do, this means that it is firm but not crispy), and the inside is fluffy and chewy.  How can it be fluffy AND chewy, you ask? Well the bread itself is very fluffy but the shredded coconut  remains just slightly chewy (just like when you happen to take a pinch from your recipe while baking to…um, taste test).  Overall, I would have to simply say that this bread is my favorite of all quick breads.

It is also really pretty inexpensive to make, as far as store bought specialty breads go. You can see my cost of ingredients list to see how this recipe breaks down if you want.  Your overall cost might be different if you buy generic store brands, catch a great sale or use slightly different ingredients (such as substituting all-purpose flour for bread flour).  For one 9 x 5" loaf, it cost me a total of $4.14.  It was more expensive than other quick breads because the coconut is a bit more expensive than such things as zucchini or banana.  But it was still worth it! This is a really great gift to bring as a hostess gift or to new neighbors because they will be impressed with such a unique bread and think you've slaved away in the kitchen to make it (but really it only will take you about 30 minutes of prep work and an hour to bake).

If you want a simple step by step printable version, click here. For those that enjoy my process of baking, read on and enjoy…just try not to slobber on your screen!

Do you see the yummy bits of coconut!?!
As usual, make sure you have a clean kitchen to start with.  It really does make baking so much easier if you have a clean area to begin in.  Then print out the recipe and tape it to the fridge, microwave or cabinets…pretty much anywhere up high and off your counters where you will know it will be there and you can easily read the ingredients and steps.


2 Eggs
1 1/4 C. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 C. Bread Flour (Substitute All-purpose if you wish)
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, Ground
1 C. Sugar
1 1/2 C. Coconut, Shredded and Sweetened
6 Tbsp. Butter, softened (not melted)

Step 1. Sift the bread flour (or all-purpose flour if you don't want to buy bread flour), salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl. 
  • Sifting all-purpose flour is really important because it settles into clumps and you will end up adding too much flour if you don't sift it.  What you need to do is take 2 1/2 cups of flour and sift it twice, then remeasure.  Most likely, you will have closer to 3 cups.  If you aren't sure how to sift, it is easiest to sift over a sheet of parchment paper, then fold that sifted flour back into the sifter over a second sheet of parchment.  Then fold that parchment paper and pour into a measuring cup. 
  • Bread flour will give you a bit more chewy texture because it will retain gas while it bakes, but all-purpose will work too.  
Step 2.  Stir in the sugar and coconut into the flour mixture and make a well in the bottom of it.  
It's hard to see from this picture, but I pushed the dry mix up from the center out
to make a small hole in the center for the milk mixture to be poured into.
Step 3. In small bowl, mix milk, vanilla and eggs with a fork until blended.  Add to the well of dry goods and mix until just combined.  

Step 4.  Stir in softened butter until evenly mixed, but don't over mix. 
  • Mix by hand, don't worry you probably won't burn too many calories…it isn't that hard to do. The reason for hand mixing is because mixers will over mix the batter, causing your bread to have holes inside while it bakes, creating tunnels that allow moisture to escape.  This leads to tough loaves instead of glorious, fluffy loaves.

Step 5. Prepare your 9 x 5 bread pan by spraying it with nonstick spray, laying parchment paper on the bottom and then spraying again.  Make sure the sides aren't completely covered.

Step 6. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.  I have a convection oven that usually requires me to bake goods for a bit longer, so I ended up baking mine for an additional 30 minutes. Just make sure that a toothpick will come out clean when inserted into the middle.  Try to insert the toothpick in a "crack" on top of the bread to get a more accurate reading.

Look at that glorious baby baking…this is when the smell engulfs you and might feel inclined
to rip it out of the pan and shove your whole face in the center…try not to do that.
Step 7.  Once you have a golden top and a clean toothpick, remove it from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 - 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on rack…if you can stand to wait much longer.  (I couldn't! I sliced that lovely loaf and smacked some butter on it as soon as those 10 minutes were up! I was not disappointed.)

This bread is so delicious without anything, but it is even better when butter is melted on top from the warm slices. It doesn't need any jam, though I suppose you could try it.  If so, let me know how it is because my loaf only lasted one day! Which reminds me, don't worry about how to store this.  Simply leave it on your cutting board for about an hour and people will become intoxicated by the smell and come knocking at your door.  

Enjoy your bread! I would love to hear any comments from you; success, failure, questions or anything! Happy Baking!

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