I have reached the point, as I do every year, when the arrival of spring ceases to be a joy and becomes a damn nuisance. I am talking, of course, about the scourge of pollen; the enemy of allergy-sufferers. Hayfever season has bloody arrived. For a few months we walk around puffy-eyed, drowsy on antihistamine and wondering if we will ever stop sneezing, until mid-summer comes and we are back to normal once again. For the last few mornings, I have woken up with eyes so swollen it would be reasonable for people to assume that I had been in a fight.
Of course, I have ways to combat this: an antihistamine tablet and the dabbing of a cold flannel will usually bring it down in half an hour or so. Rather large sunglasses are also a great disguise if they do not, but it does mean getting up that little bit earlier to give it time to work. Always one to see the positives, I have used this time to rediscover the beauty of taking time over breakfast.
A leisurely breakfast is one of the joys of the weekend. With ample time, we will either languish in a cafe reading the papers, ordering coffee after coffee; or will cook something enormous and sit at the kitchen table, listening to the radio and gossiping about the night before. During the week there is no such bliss and breakfast is either a piece of toast eaten whilst trying to wrestle my hair into submission, or whatever delights my office canteen is offering up that day. Interpret ‘delights’ as you will. With my new-found time, I have rediscovered my love of perfectly-brewed leaf tea (something definitely not available from the office canteen) and breakfasts so substantial I seldom need much for lunch.
A while ago, I was perusing the Caravan breakfast menu online and fixated, perhaps a little too much, on their grilled coconut bread with strawberries and lemon curd cream cheese. Since then, I have not been able to get the idea of coconut bread out of my head. I bake rather a lot with coconut as its crunchy graininess gives an extra dimension to many a tried and tested recipe. My banana bread with rum and coconut is an old family favourite and, recently, I added it on a whim to some chocolate brownies with surprisingly good results. This recipe for coconut bread originally came from breakfast supremo Bill Grainger, with a few tweaks by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. It has also been given an extra tweak by me, swapping the ordinary milk for coconut milk. Yes, coconut milk is bloody expensive these days (the cheapest can still always be found in the World Foods aisle, if you have one), but it heightens the coconut flavour and adds a little extra moistness.
There is a fair bit of sugar in the bread, but it isn’t actually that sweet. I used ordinary unsweetened desiccated coconut and unsweetened coconut milk, but if you want a sweeter bread, you could seek out some of the sweetened stuff. Or add a sprinkle of Demerara sugar to the top of the bread before baking. Either way, you’re going to love this.
- 85g butter
- 325g plain flour
- Pinch salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 200g granulated sugar
- 150g desiccated coconut
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300ml coconut milk
Preheat the oven to 175°c / 350°f / gas 4. Grease a medium or large loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter until melted and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and coconut milk and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs vanilla extract and coconut milk until fully combined. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix together until fully incorporated. Stir in the melted butter but do not over mix.
Scrape the ingredients into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for around one hour, or until risen and brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Serve in slices.