Coconut Bread and Crazy Nostalgia

April 4, 2011

There are two foods that I associate with my childhood: grilled cheese and quick bread. Seeing as this is predominantly a baking blog, you’d assume there would be at least a few recipes for deliciously easy to prepare, easy to store, easy to eat quick bread. You would assume wrong; I just went through my archives and found zero. This saddened me more than I thought it would for two reasons, the first being I like to think of myself as a person who is constantly trying/baking/writing about new things and the second being that quick breads were such a huge part of my upbringing and now they seem to be relegated to the back of my mind when perusing recipes.

The best part of going to visit my grandmother was eating either a zucchini or banana quick bread with cream cheese spread. The recipes themselves weren’t particularly memorable, but the simple association is beautiful and apparently something I have been trying to emulate subconsciously (now that I’m giving it some serious thought). I love that my friends, co-workers, friends of friends, co-workers of friends connect me with the giving and sharing of sweets. Maybe it is time I start trying to connect the child I once was to the adult I’m trying to be… starting with a recipe for quick bread. One step at a time, people.

On a WAY less intense note, this tropical quick bread called out to me in spite of rain and 40 degree temperatures because I happened upon some mango butter in Trader Joe’s and, holy Batman, is it good. It’s a great accompaniment to the coconut bread. In fact, I ate a piece for breakfast covered in drippy, golden mango butter and it almost transported me to a place, well, less like Boston at the moment.

Jamaican Coconut Bread

(Recipe adapted from Almost Bourdain)

Yields one 8 inch loaf

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon*

1 cup granulated sugar (or caster sugar, if you have it)

2 cups, or 5 ounces, shredded, unsweetened coconut**

5 tablespoons, or 2 ½ ounces, unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

*I did 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground cardamom. I didn’t end up tasting much of the cardamom at all, so feel free to just stick with cinnamon

**The recipe doesn’t specify whether or not coconut should be toasted, so while the oven was preheating I spread it out on a baking sheet and toasted it very lightly, hoping to add something to the overall texture.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8 inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and spices together.

4. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour egg mixture into well. Stir until just combined, leaving one or two flour streaks. Add melted butter and stir again until just combined, but now there shouldn’t be any flour streaks. Be careful not to over mix batter at this point.

5. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan. It will seem like there is too much batter for the pan, but have faith. If you’re me (a tad paranoid), you can put the loaf pan on a baking sheet to prevent any instance of rogue batter.

6. Bake loaf in preheated oven for an hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of loaf comes out clean.

7. Cool loaf in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Store loaf in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days or freeze slices of loaf, wrapped airtight, up to a month.

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