Light, delightful coconut bread

coconutbread

Spring gets me in the mood to make quick breads with fresh fruit and light flavors. I had a bag of unsweetened coconut in my cupboard that had gone unused for months, so I decided it was time to put it to good use. I came across this recipe for coconut bread from Smitten Kitchen and decided it was the best way to use it.

I don’t like overly sweet breads so, though her recipe called for sweetened coconut, I used the unsweetened coconut I had without adding any sugar, and it was perfect. The bread is light, fluffy, and slightly sweet.

Heed the warning not to overmix the batter. I did that on my first attempt and it made the bread far too dense. The second time around, it was perfect.

Ingredient
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
6 tablespoons 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.

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Playing with pumpkin

pumpkinbread1

Fall is the season for warm flavors. At this time of year, I find myself using cinnamon, nutmeg, apples and pumpkin more often than any other season.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite ingredients to play with. It can be used in sweet dishes such as pies and muffins or turned into something savory such as pumpkin soup. Since I haven’t had a lot of time to bake lately, I went with another quick bread this week. Pumpkin-chocolate chip bread, to be exact.

The original recipe made two loaves, but I only had enough pumpkin for one. Just as I was about to put it in the oven, I remembered I had a small amount of coconut left that needed to be used, so I threw it on top of the batter in the pan. I liked the texture it gave the top.

If you let this bread cool for the time the recipe recommends, you’ll end up with a moist loaf that is easy to cut through. I’ve found that cutting certain breads right after they come out of the oven can cause them to break apart. Let this one cool. It’s worth the wait.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
(Optional: 1 tablespoon coconut, brown sugar or oats)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.

Combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into loaf pan. Top with coconut, brown sugar or oats. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan and placing on wire rack.

Sweet strawberry-filled success

Strawberry oatmeal loaf

When I’m not in the mood to tackle regular bread recipes, I opt for a quick bread. I like quick breads because there’s no rising process and I can usually find a recipe that uses ingredients I have on hand.

One of my favorite quick bread recipes is this Oatmeal-strawberry bread. The bread is sweet and moist and makes a nice treat or breakfast with a cup of coffee; not to mention it smells delicious while it’s baking. It would also make a great snack for kids.

I often have strawberries around and there are few recipes that use strawberries correctly — most breads and muffins that incorporate them end up with large soggy spots where the berries are. For this recipe, take the time to slice the strawberries so they’re thin. If you leave them in chunks, the bread will get too soggy in spots or the strawberries will sink to the bottom of the loaf. I know this from experience. Also make sure to grease the bottom of the pan well, or the bottom of the loaf will break off when the loaf is being taken out of the pan. Check the bread with a toothpick about 10 minutes before it should be done baking. If you’re at high altitude, use 1/2 teaspoon baking powder instead of a full teaspoon or it won’t come out correctly. It may need to bake longer, too.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
10 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 7-inch-by-3-inch loaf pan.

Stir together the flour, 3/4 cups rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and eggs; stir into flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in strawberries. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of rolled oats.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the strawberry bread in the pan for 5 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.