coconut bread

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Coconut Bread
From Bill Granger, via Wednesday Chef, via The New York Times

I had to practically physically sit on my hands to keep myself from tweaking this, because I love coconut with so many other flavors — lime! (I’d add some zest) mango! pineapple! (I’d add chunks, or slather it with mango curd) banana! (I’d puree some into the milk portion) raspberries! brown sugar! (I’d replace some of the granulated sugar with this)– I wanted to incorporate at least one of them in each batch. I was additionally tempted to amp up the coconut, using coconut milk instead of regular milk or virgin coconut oil instead of butter. And yet, I’m glad I didn’t because it doesn’t need any fussing to taste fantastic. Okay, FINE. I fussed in one place: I browned the butter. These things, they happen when a recipe asks me to melt butter and here, it is absolutely wonderful, adding a background of toastiness that plays happily off the coconut.

The crumb is here is more coarse than banana bread, and less squishy-moist too. There’s a real change in texture from the dark crust to the tender center that makes this bread excellent toasted with a pat of butter and sprinkling of powdered sugar. This salted honey brown butter spread would be excellent here too.

Despite the volume of sugar here (I admit, I was convinced it would be overkill) this bread is not very sweet. If you would like a less sweet bread, you can use unsweetened coconut, which usually comes dried. The original recipe didn’t call for salt, and I think this and all breads, really need salt so I added 1/4 teaspoon table salt but I think one could easily take the amount up to 1/2 teaspoon.

This loaf, once baked, entirely filled and towered above my 9x5x3 (8-cup) loaf pan, so if yours is smaller, you might want to pour off a little batter into greased muffin tins.

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (295 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt (see Note)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (Bill calls for 2 but I preferred 1, so that it didn’t dominate)
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
5 ounces (140 grams) sweetened flaked coconut (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted or melted and browned, if desired
Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray for baking pan

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add sugar and coconut, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Add butter, and stir until just smooth — be careful not to overmix.

Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick spray. Spread batter in pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, anywhere from 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool in pan five minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Serve in thick slices, toasted, with butter and confectioners’ sugar or salted honey brown butter spread.

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