Monday, April 18, 2011
Browned Butter Coconut Bread
Or what I'm now calling The Best Quick Bread I've Ever Made.
I'm not kidding. This stuff is amazing. I'm already dreaming of variations. (I've attempted one, but it's not perfected yet. Once it is, you'll be the first to hear about it. Psst... it involves alcohol. Oh yeah.)
But let's get back to this bread first. This fragrant, sweet, flavorful, addictive bread. And this from a girl who claims not to like coconut. Well, not anymore folks.
One of the best things about this bread — and really, everything about it is fantastic — is the crust. Oh, the crust. I think it's so amazing because of the mixing technique you'll see below. The crust is crunchy and full of vanilla buttery flavored goodness.
The original recipe calls for melted butter. Since I was melting it anyway, I decided to take it a step further and make browned butter instead. If you've never browned butter before, don't worry. It's incredibly simple and transforms butter into something even more magical. The nutty aroma is one of my favorite baking smells. That and vanilla.
Speaking of vanilla, you'll need a vanilla bean for this recipe. I know, they're crazy expensive. Unless, like me, you get them from ebay. Yes, really. I talked about it here. They're probably not the best nor the freshest, but when I can get 1/4 pound for nearly the same price as 4 measly beans from the grocery store, I'm not going to complain!
Let's get to the recipe. ("FINALLY" I can hear you say.)
Browned Butter (and vanilla bean) Coconut Bread
Adapted from Seven Spoons
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned and cooled slightly (see notes below)
Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean (hang on to the pod!)
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups COCONUT milk (I originally wrote this as just regular milk but completely spaced that I'd used coconut milk (canned) - sorry!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
5 ounces flaked coconut* (about 1 1/2 cups)
*I used sweetened. My store didn't have unsweetened. I think you'll be fine using either.
To make browned butter:
Place butter in small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Melt, stirring periodically. Once it's melted, continue stirring. The butter will get foamy - keep stirring. Once the foam goes away, you'll notice that it's gotten very clear with some solids at the bottom. Keep stirring! You don't want those to burn. You want the butter to start to turn a very light brown color and you'll definitely start noticing the amazing, nutty aroma. Let the solids at the bottom turn light brown then remove from heat. Let cool about 5 minutes, then drop the cleaned out vanilla pot into the butter. Do this too soon and you'll have fried vanilla bean — trust me — so wait the 5 minutes. The hot butter will draw the rest of the vanilla goodness from the scraped bean. And, as an added bonus, your house will smell incredible. Best. Air freshener. Ever.
Let this cool about 15 minutes or so.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a loaf pan.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and scraped vanilla seeds (here's a great post from Zoe Francios at zoebakes about vanilla beans and how to use them).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and sugar. Stir in the coconut with a wooden spoon. Add the egg mixture and stir JUST until combined. You can leave some flour dry because you add the browned butter next.
Remove vanilla bean from butter, then pour over batter. Gently fold in the butter, incorporating all of it but don't over mix - be gentle!
**Here's where I think the magic happens in this recipe. Adding the butter LAST means that it's basically coating the batter, hence the crunchy, flavor-filled crust. At least, that's my theory.**
Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and bake on the middle rack about 1 hour. The top will be golden brown (as you see in the photos) and a toothpick will come out clean.
Let the bread sit on a cooling rack in the pan about 10 minutes then turn out on to the rack. Let cool a bit more before slicing.
This is wonderful warm, but is equally fantastic at room temperature. It doesn't need a thing to make it any better, but I suppose you could spread some butter or jam over the top. I didn't bother. It was far too good all on its own to cover up with anything else.
Make this. Now!