I’ve noticed that when I don’t do chocolate desserts, they tend to have some coconut in them. I never used to like coconut but I’ve developed quite the taste for it particularly since coming to Australia and also after spending a fair amount of time in Southeast Asia. At Australian cafes, you can get coconut bread just like you could get a slice of banana bread (or even better, a slice of banana coconut bread). They serve it in thick slices and toasted and it’s just amazing. So when I was doing my typical browse of Smitten Kitchen and saw that this recipe was based on one from the famous Bill’s cafe here, I had to try it.
This bread isn’t that sweet (I used unsweetened coconut and reduced what I thought was a fairly ungodly amount of sugar) – if you can only find sweetened coconut then you may even want to use a little less sugar. As a result, I actually do see this as a breakfast bread as opposed to a dessert, but I mean you can really eat it at any time of day. I also browned the butter that goes into the recipe because I try to do that with butter at every possible opportunity. Make sure that your batter is spread quite evenly in the pan and if the top starts browning too fast just cover with some aluminum foil about halfway through the baking time.
This type of bread would be perfect for a morning tea or a brunch party!
Coconut bread (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used 1.5 as a compromise)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 ounces (140 grams) shredded coconut – I accidentally got desiccated but that works too (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted or even better, browned (which of course I did)
Heat oven to 180 C / 350 F. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. Then add in the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Finally, add in the flour, sugar, and coconut, and stir all together until just combined. Pretty simple. The last step is to add in the butter – I found this a bit weird to add it at the end but just stir until it’s smooth and your batter will hold together perfectly fine. Don’t overmix!
Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and spread the batter in the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, which will take at least 60 minutes and potentially up to 75. I would highly recommend putting the batter into a loaf pan and also some muffin or mini muffin cups, as the batter was so high in my pan that it cooked a bit unevenly unfortunately and the ends were done before the centre. So try to just fill your pan about 2/3 full instead of all the way up to the top.
When it’s done (and you are just inhaling the smell), cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack or other surface to cool down completely. Or just start eating it warm like I obviously did.
I have to say, my absolute favourite thing about this recipe was not the final product but rather the utterly heavenly smell it created while it was baking. The combination of browned butter, cinnamon, and coconut baking in the oven is better than any candle or incense, believe me. The smell alone is worth making this!