Battle of the Breads

Cruising in the Bahamas often finds one in a feast or famine condition.

No really "famine" just an urgent fridge defrosting on Christmas Eve.

Not really “famine” just an urgent fridge defrosting on Christmas Eve.

This may be a slight exaggeration but still it seems that we have either stocked up to the point of bursting or we’re down to our last carrot, sustained only by.. you guessed it- rum. I’m making a broad statement there, but usually we find that one or two food items end up in that feast or famine category. Coconut bread, especially the real deal (not a commercial one) was our first searched for foodstuff in the Bahamas. Hours, days would be more like it, of pouring through books, websites, cruising forums and the Explorer chart books, assured us that coconut bread paved roads awaited us. A feast I tell you.

Our first winter began in the Berrys where you’d be hard pressed to find a morsel of food let alone a baked good. Flo’s was once “the” place to get a meal and coconut bread. As it turned out we considered ourselves lucky to have scored a meal, calling ahead the day before to say we’d be there. (didn’t help that we were very early in the season) However, we did not give up and even stooped to buying a commercial loaf in Nassau just to make French toast. As we traveled down the Exuma chain, becoming more desperate with each passing island, our pot of coconut thankfully appeared at the yellow house in Staniel Cay. A fresh home-baked bread, a step up from a commercial loaf, but not quite what we’d hoped for. Our next stop, Black Point should have been where we found manna from heaven, but an ostrich could not have had its head in the sand any more than we did and we missed out on Mom’s bread. A small blessing at least was that we had no clue what we’d missed; until our next visit.

So then we arrive in George Town, home of Mom’s Bakery. More like Mom’s Bakery is further south but she’d drive up to GT in her van loaded with baked goods and of course, coconut bread. Surely, this would be the place. Our SSCA webinar, “First Timers Guide to the Exumas” promised Mom’s Bakery van in GT. You can guess what we found, or rather didn’t find when we arrived; yep, no Mom’s Bakery van. Mom’s age and health kept her away. One announcement was made on the Net that maybe she’d be coming up, but sadly that didn’t happen. The bakery is run, so we understand, by her daughter and on occasion Exuma Market will have Mom’s Bakery breads on the shelf.

By now you are thinking, “why don’t we just bake our own?” Not so easily done, plus we wanted to be authentic and use fresh grated coconut meat; not that sweet shredded stuff in a package. My compromise was to bake a sweet dessert-like coconut quick bread that used cream of coconut and then the sweet shredded stuff was acceptable. Tasty on its own; it was not French toast material.

Fast forward to the present and our third year in the Bahamas; we’ve finally enjoyed several loaves of what we believe to be the best coconut bread in the Bahamas. Lorraine’s mom at Black Point; perhaps you recall me raving about it more than once 🙂

Bread number one in the battle of the coconut breads in the Black Point corner: Black Point Mom.

Black Point Mom's coconut bread. Mom bakes other types, but this one rocks

Black Point Mom’s coconut bread. Mom bakes other types, but this one rocks

This year we zoomed to GT to be sure we arrived enough ahead of our son flying in for the holidays.  Not many cruising boats and not many vacationers or winter villa owners around. So we get to the market and there on the shelf is a loaf of Mom’s Bakery coconut bread. Halleluiah!  Grabbed that quick as a wink. Could we be so lucky to now have three loaves of coconut bread on board?  Yes- the feast has begun.

Bread number two in the battle, in the George Town corner: George Town Mom.

George Town Mom's coconut bread. Fresh grated coconut meat is throughout the loaf

George Town Mom’s coconut bread. Fresh grated coconut meat is throughout the loaf

On our trip to Long Island with Benj, we received a gift of two coconuts in addition to the one Benj dispatched himself. Russ, our on board bread baker, had already found a recipe online for Bahamian Coconut Bread and now that we had fresh coconut meat to grate we’d see how ours would compare.

Bread number three in the cruising corner: s/v Ortolan (you could think “Dad” for fun).

Here’s how we made ours.

Climb a tree and cut down a ripe one- or select one off the ground, like most do

Climb a tree and cut down a ripe one- or select one off the ground, like most do

We used our heavy duty large chef's knife to cut around the outer husk first

We used our heavy-duty large chef’s knife to cut around the outer husk first

Not a job for weaklings; rip open the outer husk after you cut all the way around

Not a job for weaklings; rip open the outer husk after you cut all the way around

We were surprised that the nut sits at the bottom not in the middle

We were surprised that the nut sits at the bottom not in the middle

Crack open the coconut and save the milk- or add gin and drink it, then nap

Crack open the coconut and save the milk- or add gin and drink it, then nap ‘cuz you must be pooped by now

Russ grated enough for the bread; the rest we cut into easy-to-snack-on morsels

Russ grated enough for the bread; the rest we cut into easy-to-snack-on morsels

Boil the milk from one coconut with water, then pour over shredded coconut and let steep

Boil the milk from one coconut with water, then pour over shredded coconut and let steep

Mix ingredients, stir in flour and divide dough into two bread loaf pans

Mix ingredients, stir in flour and divide dough into two bread loaf pans

If the dough looks a bit moist here, well it is. The recipe, unfortunately did not give an exact liquid quantity so we went with what we had and hoped the result would be OK.

The result. Extra baking time and a bit heavy but loaded with coconut

The result. Extra baking time and a bit heavy but loaded with coconut

Did our bread pass the french toast test? Yes- as long as you have plenty of egg batter. It soaks up a lot, but is tasty and so effortless. 🙂  Next time we’ll use less liquid and determine the exact quantity. We are down to our last slice; time to hunt down more coconuts and I know just where to find them now that we are back at Long Island.

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6 thoughts on “Battle of the Breads

    • Me too! Our french toast this morning was with a commercial loaf which is decent all things considered. Gotta hunt down a coconut and get baking again. You can bet we won’t leave Exumas without a stop at BlackPoint. This year we had to make it up to you since last time you didn’t get any!

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  1. That looks fantastic! I haven’t struggled with coconuts since I lived overseas. And even then there was usually a neighbor kid that would help me out and do the fetching and cracking 🙂

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    • Traci you are right- so much easier when you have someone with strength to help with the coconuts. We had such fun. Maybe you need to take a youngster on a coconut excursion… somewhere….

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