Friday, July 19, 2013

Coconut Bread

I spend an unreasonable amount of time perusing recipes online and in cookbooks. I recently saw this recipe and was intrigued. I love coconut, and I am pretty sure I have never eaten coconut bread before. According to Whole Foods, the source for this recipe, this bread comes from Honduras and is known as pan de coco.

The ingredients are ½ cup grated coconut, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 package active dry yeast, ½ cup warm water, 3 ½ cups flour, ¾ teaspoon salt, 1 cup coconut milk, and 3 tablespoons butter. The recipe stipulated unsweetened coconut, but I used sweetened because I already had some on hand. I don’t think it made a big difference in the flavor or texture.

I began by combining the coconut, sugar, yeast, and warm water in a bowl. I allowed the yeast to activate and become bubbly for 15 minutes. Apparently, there are a few types of yeast out there. In addition to dry active yeast, there are instant active dry yeast, rapid-rise yeast, and fresh compressed cake yeast.

Instant active dry yeast is finer than dry active yeast and does not need to be activated in warm water. Rapid-rise yeast also doesn’t need to be activated in water. It only needs one rise because enzymes have been added. Because of this, rapid-rise yeast cannot be exchanged for active dry yeast or instant active dry yeast. Fresh compressed cake yeast has the most consistent results, but it only has a two-week shelf life.

I mentioned in an earlier post that sugar encourages yeast growth. Potatoes and eggs also encourage yeast growth. Interestingly, yeasts do not need sunlight to grow and are a single cell organism.

I combined the flour, salt, coconut milk, and softened butter in a larger bowl. Once the yeast mixture had activated for 15 minutes, I combined it with the other ingredients and stirred.

I placed the dough on a floured surface and kneaded for 6 minutes. I dusted my counter and hands with additional flour when the dough began to stick.

I let the dough rise in an oiled and covered bowl for 70 minutes. The recipe said to let the dough rise for 1 ½ hours, but I felt my dough had doubled in size after 70 minutes.

I punched the dough down and divided it into eight rolls. I placed the dough balls onto a greased baking pan. The dough rose for another 40 minutes.

Once the dough rose a second time, I placed the dough into a 350⁰ F oven for 20 to 21 minutes. This bread was a delight. I eat wheat bread so frequently that I forget how light white bread tastes. The little bits of coconut were pleasant. I was a little surprised at how subtle the coconut flavor was. I would have liked a stronger coconut flavor.

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