Welcome back! I hope that everyone had a really fantastic holiday season and New Year. I just got back from an eye-opening culinary adventure in Turkey – exploring everything from traditional bread baking in a tandoor to how to make luscious strained Turkish yogurt to watching a woman in a village create her signature bergamot and mandarin preserves. I’ll be posting more about Turkey in the coming weeks, but I did put a ton of pictures on Facebook if you want to check them out.
On to the usual…Sweet bread is one of those universal foods. A quick google will generate recipes anywhere from a Romanian version to Italian panettone to Portuguese sweet bread or even our all-American banana bread. Some include yeast and others are more of a quick bread, much like one I did a few months back.
This version is a West Indian tradition and is like a cross between a fruit cake and a bread loaf. I’ve also seen it called coconut bread, and, although it pops up a lot around the holidays, it’s an all-occasion treat. I love to make it for breakfast on a Sunday – a nice buttered slice of this loaf with hot coffee and fresh fruit is the perfect light meal.
Many versions of this bread I’ve seen include mixed peel, which are candied peels and fruits, a typical ingredient in fruitcake. I like to substitute good old lemon, lime or orange zest – the flavor is natural, more subtle, and less candy-like (which makes me feel better when I have it for breakfast…). This is a beautiful, not-too-sweet-loaf that works with afternoon coffee or even with a little vanilla sauce for dessert. Enjoy!
Yields 1 8½” x 4¼” x 2¾” loaf pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsps baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried currants
¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries
1 ½ cups grated fresh coconut
¼ tsp lemon, lime, or orange zest
½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
Preheat oven to 325° F.
In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk ingredients to combine thoroughly.
In another bowl, combine raisins, currants, cherries, coconut, and zest.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add in the extracts.
With the mixer on low, add 1/3rd of the flour mixture followed by ¼ cup of the milk. Scrape down and repeat process another two times. Add the dried fruit and coconut mixture, and make sure everything is fully incorporated.
Transfer to a greased loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
For the glaze, melt the sugar in the boiling water and brush onto sweet bread. Place back in the oven for another minute or two just to develop the sheen.
Cool before unmolding and serving.