This is my kind of banana bread. None of that ordinary stuff for me. The addition of toasted coconut makes it sublime.
I love toasted coconut! Not so much the untoasted. Stringy, bland… but when you toast it, and toast it well, the sweet caramelized pieces shatter in your mouth with such a different flavor and texture.
I almost added diced dried mango to this bread, but decided to save it for another time. I’ll probably also add dried pineapple then, too. How tropical!
Coconut. We have a coconut dysfunction at our house. Every year near the holidays, we buy a bag of Baker’s Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut to make that sweet ambrosia salad — you know the one: marshmallows, sour cream, mandarin oranges and pineapple? And coconut. We make this salad at Thanksgiving. We make this salad at Christmas along with a pan of Hello Dolly cookie bars and then the rest of the bag of coconut usually just sits there all year.
I wasn’t surprised then, when I went looking for coconut in the pantry, that I found TWO half-bags of coconut in my cabinet along with a fresh new bag. Definite coconut dysfunction! I decided to toast up both half bags. Toasted coconut on hand is a definite fix for this dysfunction. I can always find things to do with ready-to-go toasted coconut!
Directions — almost a recipe — for toasted coconut can be found below if you haven’t done this before. But I know you’re kitchen-crafty, so just count it as a refresher course ;)
I did begin this banana bread adventure with a source recipe, which can be found here, and then switched up a few things to make it my way. To make it “Just Right and Uniquely Mine” as my saying goes. Basically it means I can’t ever leave well enough alone ;) but I sure like how my adaptation of this recipe turned out!
Toasted Coconut Banana Bread
2 c. all-purpose flour (sub up to 1 c. blenderized oat flakes for extra nuttiness and fiber)
1/4 c. sugar (this makes it mildly sweet; using 2 Tbsp. is noticeably barely-sweet)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (of course, pre-ground works, too!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. well-toasted coconut
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large well-ripened bananas (brown spots and patches)
Toast coconut if needed. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease/butter and flour 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, preferably a light-colored aluminum one.
Measure dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spices, coconut) and whisk together. (Tip: Save a bowl — use a plastic bag!)
In large mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and salt until fluffy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla into milk; set aside.
Tap beaters to clean most of mixture off of them, and then prepare bananas: Peel bananas, break into pieces and place in bowl. Mash with beaters (mixer OFF) until small enough to beat (20 seconds?) then mix on low speed for about a minute until batter-like but chunky (about a minute.) Set aside. No need to clean off beaters.
Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, beat until mostly combined. Add 1/2 of the milk/vanilla, beat until mostly combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Repeat. Mix in the last portion of flour until almost combined. By hand, fold in the bananas and finish combining the flour.
Scrape into prepared pan. Bake at 350F for 1 hour 15 minutes or until loaf tests done: toothpick inserted into center should come out with moist crumbs. Let cool 15 minutes in pan; turn out of pan onto rack and let cool completely.
Change it up: glaze with any powdered sugar glaze. Top with nuts before baking, or add nuts to the batter. (Macadamias, maybe?) Top with untoasted coconut before baking. Add dried tropical fruit to the batter.
Serving ideas: slice thin, then make “sandwiches” using sweetened butter (soft butter, powdered sugar, vanilla) or using nut butter of choice. Make into french toast. Eat it any way you want!
Just so the bananas don’t feel left out of this coconut party… here’s how I mash my bananas (see recipe above)
How to Toast Coconut
Evenly, and without scorching any!
Preheat oven to 375F
Spread coconut in an even layer over foil-lined baking sheet. It should be 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick and at least 2″ from the edges of the baking sheet. Thinner, more open areas or gaps are OK in the center area. Keep the outside edges tidy and thick.
Bake for 5 minutes, or until the edges have turned light brown — the center area will still look all white.
Remove from oven and scoop all the coconut into the center. Lift and stir as you would to toss a salad, for 1 to 2 minutes. Spread back out, keeping coconut at least 2″ from edges of baking sheet, and making the oustide edges of coconut tidy and thick.
Bake 2-3 minutes, checking the color of the edges every one minute. When they are light brown, remove from oven and repeat heaping/stirring/re-spreading as before.
Things will go quickly now, as most of the moisture has evaporated from the coconut.
Bake 1 — 2 minutes at a time, watching carefully and repeating instructions for stirring until coconut has reached a rich golden brown throughout, anywhere from one to three more times.
Stir once or twice while it cools. Store in jar or zip-bag after it reaches room temperature.
MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! I love having this on hand!
Maybe next time there is a National (insert yummy food here) Day I’ll start playing with the recipe beforehand. I sure got hungry for banana bread starting on Saturday when I saw that Sunday was National Banana Bread Day. Who knew?