The cuisine of Mexico is built upon foods that originated in the New World: beans, corn, chile, tomatoes, avocados, squash, chocolate. These are some of the first foods of the first people of Mexico that still form the basis of the most common dishes of Mexico.
Coconut is thought to have been cultivated in Mexico when it was brought from the Philippines in the 16th. century. Even though it has been here for almost five hundred years, that is too recent for it to be ingrained in the Mexican food culture. This is a country whose civilization goes back to the Olmecs, who lived in Central Mexico as early as 200 B.C. Something that showed up only five hundred years ago does not rate as an established ingredient. It is too new.
For coconut bread to make an appearance in Mexico, wheat, another recent newcomer, had to be introduced. The final necessary element was the craft of baking, brought to Mexico by Spanish nuns. Coconut, wheat and baking. With all three present, coconut bread can happen in my kitchen in Mexico today. OK, I already knew how to bake, thanks to my European heritage and my American mom, but if I were a mexicana, I would be thanking the nuns right now.
Epicurious, a favorite recipe source, inspired my coconut bread, but I made a lot of changes: whole wheat flour, vanilla (another Mexican native), organic, unsweetened coconut instead of sweetened, coconut oil instead of butter. Epicurious describes this bread as being very crumbly and suggests waiting a day before slicing it. Right. Once the kitchen is bursting with the aroma of freshly baked coconut bread, we are going to wait twenty-four hours before we cut into it? There may be others stronger and more disciplined than we are. We went for warm coconut bread, crumbs and all.
Russ can always be counted on for a few interesting comments about whatever is set before him on our kitchen table. With an amazing palate and high culinary standards, he doesn’t mince words if something doesn’t measure up. When asked what he thought about the coconut bread, he said one word: good. And then he repeated it, mumbling because he had his mouth full. You get the idea. It is good. We spread warm slices with Walnutella, a new recipe still in development.
- 4 cups (10 oz./283 grams) organic, unsweetened dried coconut
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./113 grams) organic coconut oil, not melted
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz./100 grams) plus 1 teaspoon organic sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup (.24 liters) organic milk
- 2 cups (7 oz./200 grams) whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C.). Oil and flour a 9″ x 5″ (12.7 cm. x 23 cm.) bread pan.
- Grind 3 cups (7.5 oz./230 grams) of coconut into a fine meal in a food processor.
- Beat coconut oil and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
- Add milk and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, combine ground and unground coconut, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture until combined. Do not overmix.
- Spoon into loaf pan and smooth top.
- Sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar on top of batter, down the center of the loaf.
- Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center tests dry.
- Cool in pan for 15 minutes.
- Turn out of pan and set right-side-up on a rack to cool for 2 hours.
- Slice into 1″ (2.54 cm.) thick slices to minimize crumbling.
- Coconut Muffins (cookinginmexico.com)
- Coconut Bread (Epicurious)
- Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World (New York Times)