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Trusty as trusted

In many ways, my world is a small one. It isn't broad or grand or glamorous, really.

Most days I wear a familiar routine, worn in places from use, and I think it suits me well. I have an affection for that sameness; I am loyal to it and and it is reliable in its service. There is a luxury in contentedness that I have come to appreciate.

Fo us, that contentment with the regular is what prepares us for the extraordinary - good or bad. The security in knowing that the familiar will always be around gives us firm footing for standing up to hold close or defend against the happenings of the world beyond.

This undemanding coconut bread from Bill Granger is as trusty as trusted can be. We've been making this recipe for years, a recipe famous already and without need of my seal of approval as it has already been decorated by far grander folk. Nonetheless, I thought I'd bring it out in the chance that you might not have heard of it before, and for those who have, to remind you of its strong points.

If you have ever wanted to eat macaroons for breakfast, but felt the need for an excuse to do so. Here's you go, here it is. This bread is coconut through and through, a buttery base barely holds together that coconut in a texture that is moist and toothsome, like the centre of a Bounty bar in bread form.

Even better, this is a useful bread to have around. For the earlier-mentioned breakfast, toast it until crisp at the edges and serve with butter and marmalades, or save it for afternoon tea and serve it with a veil of confectioner's sugar sifted over its crust, or pack away blocky slices in the freezer where they won't mind the cold one bit.

It's also a bread that welcomes variation, one takes citrus beautifully (into the wet ingredients whisk in the zest of your choice, lime or grapefruit is especially nice). Or, if citrus isn't your thing, finely-chopped candied ginger or chocolate chips folded into the batter with the butter also make a top-notch additions.

There is nothing difficult about the recipe itself; in the matter of the ingredients or the method. It's made up of baking staples, simply stirred together wet into dry, in the muffin method - meaning just barely, so that all the liquid is absorbed and the flour is dampened and incorporated, but no more than that. No whipping or creaming required. In truth, anything that athletic is frowned upon, since overworking the batter will result in a firmer bread than is our aim. Lethargy wins the day. As it should.

So go forth, with sturdy slices tucked into your pockets or squirreled away for when they're needed. Come rain or shine, regular or remarkable, whatever the day brings you can be happy in the knowledge that there's coconut bread waiting for you.

It's good like that.

Bill Granger's Coconut Bread
Adapted slightly from the original.

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
Seeds scraped from half a vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups flour, more for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup superfine sugar
5 ounces flaked coconut (around 1 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Soft butter for greasing the pan

Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla seeds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the sugar and coconut. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and slowly add the egg mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in the melted butter, being careful not to overmix.

Grease and flour a 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Pour in the batter and bake in the preheated oven until the loaf is golden and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, around 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in its tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack. Position it again side up to cool a bit more.

Slice thickly and toast, or serve as is. A smear of butter or a dusting of confectioner's sugar is optional, but either would be a really good idea. Grapefruit marmalade would be exceptional.

Makes 1 loaf.


• I had the urge to make this one day, and found that I only had a few ounces of each sweetened, flaked coconut and unsweetened, finely shredded coconut. I tossed them together equal parts of the two to get my full amount and haven't looked back since. It's not a necessary change, but worthy of note.
• If you do not have fresh vanilla beans on hand, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract can be substituted.
• The crust on this bread is something special; it has the crunch and lacy feel of the golden edge of a macaroon. To encourage a higher crust-to-middle ratio, I bake mine in a long and narrow loaf pan, it is 10-by-3 1/2-inches - in that case, I use a sling of parchment paper to make it easier to remove. This batter also makes pleasantly-dense cakelets when baked in a muffin tin.

Reader Comments (52)

Very interesting! I bet this would be great with a bit of butter and some fluffy, creamy scrambled eggs for breakfast. A must try!

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I love your style of writing. So pure and honest! The cake looks fab too. Great as a snack with aftnernoon tea. :)

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNadia

excuse my spelling of "afternoon." ;)

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNadia

oh this sounds lovely. I need something to get me out of my baking slump and this sounds like the winner. I like the unsweetened coconut as it will make it extra coconutty without adding sweetness.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Alas, I adore Granger and coconut both, but somehow let this one slip by. No more (especially as lethargy always wins my day!)

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

oh MY.

i am so excited about this recipe. i have a deep and abiding love for coconut. i bought some as soon as i saw your flickr photo [before the recipe went live, haha!]. i will be making and enjoying this soon!

gorgeous pics, by the way.


January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteriamchanelle

you are so poetic and i love your thoughts on contentment. thanks for sharing this.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarisa

This recipe sounds so does your lovely post about it :) I can imagine how delicious it is!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChichaJo

Now this speaks my language! I buy unsweetened coconut by the five-pound bag and am always keeping my eyes open for recipes that showcase the coconut. In fact, the more I think about this, the more insistent my coconut craving gets. (I didn't have this problem before I read this post...but I'm not complaining.)

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Jo

I've never even thought of coconut bread, but it sounds great. I love your description of making it and even the photo looks comfortable and content.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Where can you find a long narrow loaf pan? I've been searching for one and can't seem to find it anywhere!! Thanks!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I love recipes like this that are as comforting as old friends.

Coconut in baked goods just can't go wrong--such a deliciously rich and flaky addition. This looks like a great recipe for a February morning.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Oh lady, this post is just what I needed. We’re amid kitchen renovations, and in our small home, that’s a whole lot of chaos competing against wanted calm. I breathe a sigh of anticipated relief when I consider breaking in our "new" kitchen with this reliable recipe. Only one more week to go. ~Jen

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenious

Several short hours later, three little loaves are cooling on my counter. Well, two and a half loaves; the missing half has already been inhaled.

I made a few changes involving whole wheat, coconut milk, and rum, plus I added some chocolate. Next go-round I might eliminate the chocolate and go with some lime zest and a lime glaze. It's really quite the flexible loaf.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Jo

Yum. Could you arrange a slice for my breakfast today? Because that would be lovely.

Yet another reason we need to be neighbors.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTea

since moving to Queens, we've been eating at a lot of Chinese bakeries (they're plentiful here) and they are ALL about coconut in every bread and pastry imaginable. It's deeeelicious!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

a loyalty to sameness - i love it.

and i'm sure i'll love this recipe.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJENNIFER MAO

I've never heard or had coconut bread before. I have a friend and her husband who absolutely adore coconut. This would be great to make as an anniversary gift for them. Thank you!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFarrah

it is baking in the oven right now and it smells soooo goooooood!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternadia

you create such a special story surrounding the recipe..almost as if another ingredient ...i always like a bread that will with stand a little addition here and there ` elk

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterELK

I've never heard of this bread. I can't wait to make it for my dad who is absolutely nuts about coconut.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I have a friend who I secretly stalk via facebook that is always vacationing somewhere exotic, or sailing, or skiing, or something. Sometimes I wonder if this is what I want, this kind of life - but l know I don't. I thrive on contented sameness, as well, and am at heart a homebody. Your post brought these thoughts to mind. Lovely blog, I hope to try some of your recipes and visit here more often.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

I have been so into coconut lately. I completely agree with you about the grapefruit marmalade! Yum!

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommentertheUngourmet

Hmmm! This looks interesting - might have to give it a try with Kamut khorasan Wheat flour for added goodness~ Thanks!!

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersmilinggreenmom

I can't wait to try this recipe! With a little bit of drizzled ganache, this might be the perfect dessert for Valentine's Day. Thanks!

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

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