Monday, April 18, 2011

Browned Butter Coconut Bread

coconut bread-bite

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.

coconut bread-crumb

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.

coconut bread-crust

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.)

coconut bread

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!


  1. YUM! I want a piece! My husband claims that he doesn't like coconut too but maybe this would change his mind.

  2. OMG, this looks AMAZING! My only question is, does it travel well? ;)

  3. I love browned butter and whenever something calls for it to be melted, many times like you I brown it. This quick bread is wonderful! Will have to add it to my list to things to make. Are you thinking about adding rum? What about chocolate?

  4. Amanda- Try grinding the coconut in the food processor to break it up a bit. It'll help disguise the texture. That was always the issue for me. I like the flavor.

    DB- I bet it would. It could certainly make a plane ride... ;)

    Robin Sue- Yep! But not just any rum- Malibu :) I made a bundt "cake" with this recipe, poked it, and glazed it with a rum syrup but it just wasn't quite what I wanted (although it got rave reviews). I haven't had a chance to get back to testing, but I'm envisioning it as "the perfect adults only BBQ dessert." Summery, and full of booze. Heh.

    I hadn't thought about chocolate, but I bet it would be great in the standard recipe. Throw some chocolate chips in there and you'd be set.

  5. Mmm rum! Dude! That's Lady Dude to you with it being Royal Wedding week and all. Are you watching? Me and little Dae will be up with the birds to see it all!

    PS would a banana boozy glaze go with this bread? Or would banana be too strong of a flavor? You got me thinking...

  6. Robin Sue- I did end up watching quite a bit while getting ready this morning. I missed the vows though. I think I was showering. :)

    RE: boozy banana glaze: I made a boozy glas on the test loaf and it was very good. I'm not sure about banana, though, but that's because I don't care for banana flavoring. I like the real deal, but not the flavoring. If YOU like it, though, it would probably work great.

  7. Good heavens, you need to spread this recipe all over town...


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