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Thursday, November 3

This Week for Dinner Podcast #46: Nicole Blades and Her Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread Recipe

This Week for Dinner Podcast #46: Interview with Author Nicole Blades + Her Favorite French Toast Recipe + A FABULOUS Recipe for Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread

The podcast is back! Yippee! We’re kicking off the second season with a really lovely interview with author Nicole Blades and her family’s beloved Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread recipe. Before we get to the recipe and shownotes, a few quick notes about Nicole! Nicole is a novelist and journalist who has been writing since third grade. She’s worked for magazines like Essence and written articles and essays for pretty much everyone, from NYTimes.com to WashingtonPost.com and more. She also has a blog (link below!) and her second novel “The Thunder Beneath Us” published last week (congratulations, Nicole! Woohoo!). Nicole and I could basically talk forever (we pretty much did) and in this episode we hit on all kinds of topics, everything from the virtues and vices of digital communication, vegetarianism, ancestral DNA tests and, of course, FOOD.

Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread from @janemaynard

Nicole shares two recipes in the podcast. One of them is for Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread, a recipe that really represents family for Nicole. I wanted to make the bread before the show went live so I would have good photos to include. I am so glad I did. This bread. It is dangerously delicious! Nicole also took photos of the actual recipes she uses. The French toast came from an old magazine and the sweet bread is in an old Caribbean cookbook. I am so happy to have those photos to share with you, too. Hard copy recipes are one of my favorite things in the world.

Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread from @janemaynard

I think it’s time we get down to business! First the shownotes, then the recipes, then the podcast itself! Enjoy!

Shownotes:

Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread from @janemaynardLeft: Loaves sprinkled with granulated sugar; Right: Loaves brushed with sugar water. Both techniques work beautifully.

Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread from @janemaynardPictured: The original recipe from the cookbook “Caribbean Cookbook” by Rita G Springer

Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread
 
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This recipe is adapted from the book "Caribbean Cookbook" by Rita G. Springer. Nicole shared the recipe with me along with a few notes about how she modifies it. I have written it up in my own words below!
Author:
Serves: 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 150 grams sugar (this is ¾ cup sugar minus 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ pound melted shortening or butter (Nicole and I use butter)
  • ¾ cups milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated unsweetened coconut (important to use grated unsweetened; Nicole said it's best if you buy a whole coconut, crack it open and grate it yourself, but store-bought grated unsweetened coconut works, too)
  • Sugar for sprinkling OR equal parts sugar-water mixture, for the top of the bread
  • Optional Stuffing: ⅓ cup unsweetened grated coconut + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + ½ tablespoon sugar mixed together
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl then stir in sugar. (I used my KitchenAid mixer, which I highly recommend if you have one.)
  3. Add melted shortening/butter, milk, egg and vanilla extract. Stir in coconut.
  4. Blend ingredients well (this is where the mixer comes in handy!).
  5. Knead slightly on lightly floured board or knead in your mixer with the dough hook for a couple of minutes.
  6. Divide dough into two, shape into loaves and place in greased bread pans, ensuring dough does not fill the pans more than ⅔ full. Optional: Stuff the optional "stuffing mixture" from the ingredients list above into the center of the loaves, opening the loaf and putting the mixture in the middle and then reshaping the loaf again before putting it in the pan.
  7. Score the top of the loaf (Nicole likes to make Xs, a long line down the middle is pretty, too!) and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Alternately, Nicole likes to brush the tops with a sugar-water mixture (use equal parts water and sugar, about ¼ cup each - mix together and let sit a few minutes to dissolve before using). About every 5 minutes or so during the cooking time brush the loaves with the sugar water. Either technique works beautifully.
  8. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.
Notes
The bread is quite crumbly but far from dry...the flavor and texture are wonderful! Just use a serrated knife when slicing!

Caribbean Coconut Sweet Bread from @janemaynard

Here is Nicole’s favorite breakfast recipe, a French toast recipe she tore out of a GQ magazine many years ago!

Nicole Blades' Favorite French Toast recipe

GQ French Toast
 
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Nicole Blades found this recipe in a GQ magazine many years ago.
Serves: 4 slices
Ingredients
  • 2 page eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 1 drop almond extract or dash of amaretto
  • 4 slices brioche or other high-quality white bread, cut 1 inch thick (Nicole uses a brioche bread made in France that is sold at Whole Foods - whatever bread you use, make sure it's good - that's the key!)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients except the bread. Cook in a skillet greased with unsalted butter on the stove over medium heat like you would any regular French toast!

 

It’s easy to listen to the show!

  • Via the web: Just click play below!
  • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the StitcherPodcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

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