Coconut Raisin Bread

Soft and flavourful, this coconut raisin bread is the result of trying to recreate the coconut twists sold in many Asian bakeries. Like most Asian breads, this one is soft, tearing apart easily and only slightly sweet, with a high filling to bread ratio that really brings out the taste of the coconut. The scattering of raisins help to add a burst of tang to each bite, but if raisins are not your cup of tea, feel free to skip them.

This recipe is fairly easy to make – the only challenge comes from the initial kneading. Since the dough contains both eggs and butter, it can be quite sticky to work with, which is why I’ve allowed for an additional 20g of flour while kneading. Not mixing in this flour at the beginning makes it easier to adjust if you find the dough too wet (it’s a lot less work to knead in flour than milk!) and also prevents the dough from becoming too dry as it absorbs the flour on the work surface. Just remember that 20g is a rough upper limit and there’s no need to add all of it if your dough isn’t too sticky.

Ingredients (makes 12 rolls or 2 braided loaves)

Dough

  • 2 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 350g (+ 20g flour for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 40g sugar
  • 45g butter, melted and cooled
  • 175g whole milk
  • 1 large egg (~55g without shell)

Coconut filling

  • 30g coconut oil
  • 1 large egg (~55g without shell)
  • 100g shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 50g powdered sugar
  • 40g raisins

Directions

  1. Mix together water, 1 tsp sugar and instant yeast in a small bowl. Let sit for around 10 minutes to allow yeast to bloom.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 350g of flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Add the melted butter, whole milk, bloomed yeast, and egg to the flour and mix until incorporated into a sticky dough.
  4. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with more flour and knead until smooth, around 10 minutes. Add more flour (up to around 20g) as kneaded if the dough is too sticky.
  5. Form the dough into a round ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and let rise for around 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the coconut filling. Whisk together the coconut oil and egg until the oil is mostly dissolved in the egg.
  7. Combine the powdered sugar and shredded coconut. Add in the egg mixture and mix until it forms a thick paste.
  8. Transfer the risen dough onto a floured surface and gently knead a couple of times to deflate. Divide in two and set half aside.
  9. Roll the dough into a rectangular sheet, approximately 10 x 15 inches.
  10. Spread half of the coconut mixture over the rolled out dough, all the way to the edges, then sprinkle with raisins. Gently roll the dough lengthwise into a log shape.
  11. Cut into 6 equal sized pieces and place into a lightly greased 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pan. Cover with cling wrap and let rise for around an hour until the rolls have puffed up.
  12. Alternatively you can also shape into a braided loaf. After the dough is rolled, cut lengthwise into 3 strips, making sure to keep the top end attached. Gently braid the strips, arranging so that the open edge with the exposed filling faces upwards.
  13. Once dough is risen, bake at 375F for around 20 – 25 minutes until the top is golden in colour.

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