I was having a rifle through my (slightly overflowing) cupboard of baking supplies and came across a packet of desiccated coconut that had been in there for goodness knows how long and was about to go out of date; so today’s recipe is borne out of a need to use it up. I dread to think what other packets of expired ingredients are lurking at the back of the cupboard…I really should have a clear-out before it gets stocked up with Christmas baking supplies…although it feels far too early to be thinking about Christmas!
Anyway, this Barbadian coconut sweet bread is the delicious result of my compulsion to WASTE NOTHING!! If it isn’t mouldy I will make something with it. I quite like having to come up with something to use up a specific ingredient, it forces me to be a bit creative.
The best way I can describe the texture of this cakey bread thing is as a cross between a scone, a pound cake and soda bread. It is dense, moist (urgh! I hate that word….and yet I use it all the time…what other word is there to describe a moist cake?) and crumbly with a delicious coconut flavour with hints of vanilla, spice and rum. It is not too sweet, which makes it great for breakfast or a snack and it is outstanding when toasted and spread with butter. It is a bit of a plain Jane on the outside, but it’s moreish flavour and appealing texture will have you hooked and coming back for seconds.
The cake doesn’t taste overtly of rum, there is just a subtle hint which is delicious with the coconut, and any alcohol will burn off when baked; but if you don’t want to use rum you can replace it with an equal quantity of any liquid you choose, amaretto or orange flower water might be nice, and if you don’t want to add any extra flavouring, just use milk.
The mixture for this is not a batter, it should have the consistency of a soft scone dough; and although the recipe states it makes one large loaf (a 2lb loaf tin) you can split it in half and make two small ones (1lb loaf tins) if you prefer. Bake at the same temperature but check for readiness after 45 minutes, a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. I also considered baking individual ones in a mini loaf pan as I thought they would be cute but gave up on the plan because I don’t actually own a mini loaf pan…give it a go, although I can’t give an accurate bake time – 25 minutes at a guess.
Barbadian Coconut Sweet Bread
(Please note: although I have provided a conversion from grams to US cup measurements I cannot guarantee the accuracy as I do not bake using cups, I thoroughly recommend investing in a digital metric scale, it is far more accurate.)
- 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 175g (2/3 cup plus 1tbsp) butter
- 225g (1 + 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) self-raising flour
- 200g (1 + 2/3 cups) plain flour
- 115g (2/3 cup) demerara sugar
- 115g (1 + 1/4 cups) desiccated (dry unsweetened shredded) coconut
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 150ml (scant 2/3 cup) milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp rum (or an equal quantity of liquid of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin. Blend the tablespoon of caster sugar with two tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl, set aside.
Place the butter and flours in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, you can do this in a food processor if you prefer. Stir in the sugar, coconut, mixed spice and ginger, in a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and rum. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well by hand until no dry flour remains, the mixture should resemble a soft scone dough. Shape into a log and place the dough into the prepared tin, press to fit.
Brush the dough with the reserved sugar water (don’t use it all) then bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean, cover loosely with tin foil about halfway through baking to prevent the top from browning too much. When the loaf is baked, leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack, brush with the remaining sugar water and leave to cool completely.
(recipe adapted from The Complete Mexican, South American and Caribbean Cookbook by Jane Milton, Jenni Fleetwood and Marina Filappelli)