This bread is my new favorite loaf to make. It surpassed all of my coconut expectations and is the perfect combination of soft sweet white bread and buttery coconut filling. It's delicious fresh from the oven, toasts up perfectly with a sugary coco-nutty crust, and stays soft and delicious for a few days afterwards as well.
I wanted to make sure there was as much coconut flavor packed into the loaf as possible so the regular milk was replaced with creamy coconut milk.
The bread is also enriched with eggs, butter, and sugar which make it soft, sweet, and rich. If you love coconut I really encourage you to try this loaf. I took extra step-by-step photos for forming the loaf because even though it looks impressive and difficult it's actually quite simple to make.
The first step is to combine some flour, coconut milk, sugar, and yeast to make a sponge. It might seem like extra work but for those people who are nervous about baking with yeast a sponge is a great way to assure yourself that your yeast is alive and kicking.
For some reason I made this sponge in a small bowl which was a ridiculous decision seeing as it doubles in volume. The best place to make it is in the big bowl of your mixer, not some tiny bowl that was just conveniently near by.
After the sponge has doubled the rest of the ingredients are added to the mixing bowl and stirred until combined. Then you knead the dough until it is soft and silky. You can do it by hand but I'd really suggest using a mixer. With the extra butter and eggs the dough needs to be kneaded very thoroughly to ensure a good rise in the oven. Basically you knead the bread.. then knead it some more.. then more kneading! Best let a mixer handle that work
I use that kneading time to play Words with Friends on my iPhone (which explains why my poor phone is crusted with bits of flour and butter).
Once the dough is soft and silky and thoroughly kneaded it gets put into a bowl to rise for about 1.5 hours.
While the dough is rising you make the coconut filling out of butter, sweetened coconut, sugar, and powdered milk. When the dough is ready it gets split into two pieces, rolled into two 25 x 35 cm rectangles and then spread with the coconut mixture.
Next the dough is tightly rolled up along the long side of the rectangle into a log.
Using a big knife or a dough scraper the log is cut down the middle. See the tasty layers of butter and coconut? Yum!
Gently turn the two pieces so that the layers are facing upwards. Then start at the top and cross the right piece over the left piece, then the left over the right...
..and repeat until you get to the bottom. Ta-da! A fancy shaped loaf that looks like it took some sort of crazy rolling/folding/braiding technique when really the layers are all from rolling it into a log.
Repeat with the remaining dough and then gently transfer the loaves to two greased 9x5 loaf pans to rise for 45-60 minutes.
The coconut on the top of the loaves toasts while baking which makes your house smell good enough to eat.
The crust on top is crunchy and coco-nutty and sweet..
I sumbitted this post to YeastSpotting
Coconut Swirl Bread
makes two 9x5 loaves
(slightly adapted from Coconut Babka)
1 Tbsp (7g) Instant Yeast
1 Tbsp (15g) Sugar
1 2/3 cups (375g) warm coconut milk
2 cups (300g) bread flour
1 1/2 tsp (9g) salt
2 1/2 cups (350g) bread flour
1/2 cup (125g) butter at room temp cut into pieces
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
6 Tbsp (77g) butter at room temp
1/2 cup desiccated sweetened coconut
2 Tbsp (23g) sugar
2 Tbsp powdered milk (optional, the filling still tastes great without it)
1 Tbsp milk
1: Make The Sponge
In the bowl of your mixer combine the sponge ingredients and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the sponge doubles in volume.
2: Make the Dough
Add the eggs, salt, sugar, and half of the flour to the sponge. Using the paddle attachment stir until combined. Switch to the dough hook and press a couple of pieces of butter into the dough. Knead until the butter has been worked into the dough completely. Press another few pieces of butter into the dough and repeat until all the butter has been incorporated. Knead in remaining flour until smooth and silky. Depending on how wet or dry your climate is you might not need to use all of the remaining flour. It should feel soft and satiny but not stiff. Knead throughly! You want the dough to be really smooth and elastic
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temp for about 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
Make the coconut filling while the dough rises by stirring together all the filling ingredients in a bowl until combined
3: Shape the Loaves
Once the dough has risen cut it into two equal pieces and roll them out into 25 x 35 cm rectangles. Spread half of the coconut mixture onto each rectangle and then roll the rectangle along the long side into a log.
Cut the log length-wise down the middle and gently turn the pieces so that the layers are facing the top. Starting at the top cross the right piece over the left piece, then the left piece over the right piece. Repeat for the length of the dough. Gently move the loaves into two greased 9 x 5 loaf pans. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes until they have almost doubled in size
4: Bake the Loaves
Preheat the oven to 350F
Brush both of the loaves with egg wash and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes. If the tops start getting too dark before the time is up tent with tinfoil.
The loaves should be golden and dark brown on top and golden on the sides. Remove from loaf pans and let cool completely before slicing. They are a little top heavy while still warm so it you try to slice them the loaves and slices will be pretty squished looking.