Monday, February 1, 2010

Coconut Bread

I've always been impulsive.

This impulsiveness surfaces in every aspect of my life, from the most trivial - such as the constant changing of my hair - to the potentially dangerous...

An example: when I was 23 and I took off on a cross-country road trip by myself. It seemed harmless enough. I was supposed to be gone for 2 weeks, but close to the end of my trip I blew a tire on the interstate. I was just outside Claremore, OK, whose only claim to fame is being the birthplace to Will Rogers. The speed limit was 75, so I was going about 80. I was listening to Tori Amos' Tales of a Librarian, when all of a sudden my car started to fishtail. Before I knew it I was air-bound, flying off the side of the road. My car landed - blowing another tire - spun around several times and came to rest in some tall grasses. Miraculously, I wasn't injured. Not even a bruise. My car was another story. It required almost $8000 in repairs, and while it was being fixed I was stranded in Tulsa. For two weeks. By myself. I spent the whole time in my motel room watching Law & Order re-runs and knitting.

Though hopefully no experience as extreme as my stay in Tulsa will result from any decision I make in the kitchen, my impulsiveness shows itself in my baking, too - this is on the trivial end of the impulsive spectrum. Sometimes I have a desire to bake, but I have a hard time deciding exactly what I want to bake. If I happen upon a recipe that inspires me, however, I have to make it immediately. Whether it is late at night, early in the morning, in the last 30 minutes I have before I go to work, etc... This was one of those recipes.

As soon as I saw this on Seven Spoons, I started measuring ingredients. It was a perfect recipe to happen upon, as I had been wanting to make my boys a new quick bread for breakfast. Plus, I had just made this fantastic coconut cake that they weren't able to eat, which I felt a little bad about because it was so delicious. Making this bread was my way of giving them a little taste of what they had missed.

This coconut bread is like the less-refined cousin of that cake. Denser, heavier than the cake, with none of its fluffy delicacy though all of its coconut-y goodness. This has more heft, more texture from a greater amount of shredded coconut, which also gives it a little chew. It has a moist, soft crumb and a substantial crust. It is humble, yet sublime.

Taking a cue from the cake, I used coconut milk in place of whole milk to enhance the coconut flavor. I also used palm sugar to sweeten it - which comes from the coconut palm; coconut everywhere! This is a fantastic quick bread eaten plain or toasted with butter and equally as appropriate eaten for breakfast or with your afternoon tea. If you wanted to dress it up a little and serve it as dessert, I'm sure it would also be delicious with chocolate chunks - though for me it would slightly defeat the purpose, as then my kids wouldn't be able to eat it.

Thankfully, not all roads of impulsiveness lead to Tulsa.

Coconut Bread
adapted from Bill Granger via Seven Spoons

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean, or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup palm sugar
5 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) unsweetened shredded coconut
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. Whisk together eggs, coconut milk and vanilla in a small bowl, set aside. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, then stir in the palm sugar and shredded coconut. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour in egg mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in melted butter, mixing only until incorporated. Do not over-mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about an hour, or until a tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for 30 minutes, then un-mold and cool completely on rack before cutting.


  1. I saw this on seven spoons too--and that day at the bakery i work at, or night rather, as we start at midnight, i transformed our oat bran muffins to satisfy my instant craving for bill grangers coconut cake! its great when impulses turn out so delicious, hey?!

  2. LOL on the Tulsa experience. I've been to Tulsa, so I can imagine. It wasn't bad, just wasn't a lot to do at the time. Your bread looks great, very dense, and rich, and I can just taste the coconut.

  3. And if you adapted the recipe to use coconut oil instead of butter, just think of the coconut concentration! This cake looks like a much better implulse than 2 weeks in Tulsa (although I haven't seen what you knitted, I guess)

  4. Nancy, Ooh, great idea!!! I may have to try that next time :) I knitted several small, fun asymmetrical purses that I then felted. I'll take the cake over Tulsa any day :)

  5. Great story, cute blog, love the fact that there is coconut milk in a quick bread.

  6. This looks so delicious! I'm not a big coconut fan, but this is something I could try. Thanks!

  7. I love your blog and I loved your story of your roadtrip, luckily you weren't hurt in your accident. When I was a young woman and 6 months pregnant I drove in a Renault 10 with my husband from Los Angeles to Toronto, in early July. Because the Renault 10 is a water cooled engine we broke down in Barstow, California and spent three days in a motel watching old movies and looking at the colours of the Calico Hills at night. After that we took no chances and drove at night when it was cool and slept in the day when it was hot. I will never forget driving through Oklahoma on the Will James Highway at night, it just seemed to go on and on forever without a break and I thought morning would never come. Anyway, I love all things coconut and I will make this recipe and think about our respective road trips in Oklahoma.

  8. Im rather impulsive too! Great story! this bread looks amazing!

  9. i love to drive and listen to Tori!
    and i love coconut, can't wait to try it.

  10. I have to make this. Now. Or maybe I'll wait until I get home tonight. It looks delicious.

  11. I'm anything but impulsive so I loved this post. Scary story about Tulsa though - glad you weren't hurt!! I'm a big fan of coconut so this will definitely be added to the list. Man is that list ever getting long :)


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