June 10, 2007

Coconut Bread - Gluten Free

What's not to like about the coconut palm? It provides nuts, milk, fruit, sap, oil, fiber, wood, dye and medicine. A thousand and one uses can be found for the humble coconut palm, but the best thing is that it's gluten free.

I'm always game to try new foods, especially gluten free foods. So when I noticed that Bob's Red Mill carried coconut flour, I had to give it a try. I began pondering what kind of foods could I make with it...a quick bread, pie crust, or cookies. The ideas kept flying around my brain, although one of them stood out - the idea for a coconut quick bread that used the flour, milk, oil and meat of the coconut.

A coconut quick bread would be a healthy way to start the day as coconut meat contains a variety of B vitamins, minerals, fiber and some protein. Coconut oil is considered to be a healthy oil that doesn't effect cholesterol levels. Coconut milk has a wide variety of nutritional properties including calcium, iron, protein and fiber.

As I was working on my recipe, I wondered about how others had used coconut in bread recipes. There are a wide variety of modern recipes that blend coconut with flavors like orange or banana and pumpkin to exotic curry. Traditional recipes for coconut breads range from the Samoan Pagi Popo where the bread dough is cooked in a syrup of coconut milk and sugar to one full of fruit and a pound of coconut from Barbados. One of the best recipes I found was by Australian chef Bill Granger of bills food. His recipe for coconut bread can be found at the BBC or at Wednesday's Chef. With a variety of recipes in hand from Barbados to Bill, I began to work on my gluten free version of coconut bread.

Gluten free bread recipes need to have a replacement for gluten. Something that will bind all the ingredients together and not alter the flavor of the food. To go along with the tropical feel of the bread recipe, I chose to use quick cooking granulated tapioca as the binder. What is granulated tapioca? About the size of kosher salt grains, it can be used to make puddings or thicken soup. It has a soft gelling characteristic when blended with room temperature liquids.

So you can get an idea of what is a firm gel looks like and behaves, this is a picture of a natural hair gel. It's primary ingredients are water and aloe vera gel. It easily stands up on the end of my daughter's finger and holds it's shape.

Now that I had the binder chosen, I finished working on my recipe. Then it was time to start baking.



2 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cup + 2 Tb coconut milk
1/2 cup + 2 Tb agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour**
1/4 cup + 1 Tb sweet rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 Tb quick cooking granulated tapioca*


1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp coconut milk

Making the Bread

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8 x 4 loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl or cup, pour in the quick cooking tapioca and add the 2 Tb of coconut milk. Stir and allow the mixture to sit and thicken.

3. In a medium sized bowl pour in all the dry ingredients and stir.

4. In a mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil. Plop in the eggs and combine with the coconut oil. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk, agave syrup and tapioca gel. If using a mixer make sure to do this on low speed. Slowly add the dry ingredients.

5. Pour the batter in to the lined loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Return it to the oven and continue to bake for 20 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

6. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes before applying the coconut glaze.

Making the Glaze

1. In a medium sized bowl, pour in the coconut milk. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Break up any powdered sugar lumps that have formed by pressing the lump between the back of a spoon and the side of the bowl.

2. Pour over the top of the bread. Using a spatula or knife spread the glaze until it covers the top.

How did it turn out? My husband and I thought it was delicious. Our favorite way to eat it was warm as it gave the coconut a wonderful toasted flavor. My son thought that the bread turned out nicely, but he didn't care for the flavor of coconut. For my daughter, who likes the flavor of coconut, thought that the bread had too much coconut. She wanted more bread flavor and less coconut.

Did the tapioca work to hold the bread together? It did a great job of binding all the flours together. The bread was easily held in your hand and didn't break down into crumbs when you broke off a bite with a fork.

*The brand of quick cooking organic tapioca that I used was Let's Do...Organic by Edward & Sons. I purchased it at my local Whole Foods store. If you substitute tapioca pearls for the granulated tapioca, make sure to break down the pearls into small bits before measuring.

**You can make your own coconut flour by processing coconut flakes or shredded coconut in a food processor. I have made coconut flour this way in the past by using Let's Do...Organic Coconut Flakes.


celticjig said...

Yum, I love coconut! I will have to try this and maybe toast some coconut to include in the bread and the glaze.

Sheltie Girl said...

Celticjig - Toasted coconut sounds great! I'll have to try that too.

Sheltie Girl

Tracy said...

Coconut flour and almond flour work very well together in breads (some flax as well is nice), muffins, cakes...I use it for pretty much everything! Gluten free and low in carbs, what more do you want?

Sheltie Girl said...

Tracy - I agree with you...coconut flour has a wonderful texture and a delicate flavor. You can use it for sweet as well as savory recipes.

Sheltie Girl