Soft and Chewy Coconut Milk Bread
This bread is like a big, soft, fluffy pillow.
A pillow that smells very softly of coconut.
The past 6 months I’ve been going gangbusters with coconut oil in breads, muffins, and cookies. The flavor it imparts is subtle, yet it lends such a soft and moist texture to everything it touches.
For this bread, I paired coconut oil with rich, creamy coconut milk and am thrilled with the results. It’s adapted from Soft and Fluffy Sandwich Bread (vegan), which has been very popular with readers and is my husband’s all-time favorite bread.
And this one is my new favorite bread for toasting, making sandwiches with, or just nibbling on.
The good news and the bad news about this bread is that it doesn’t have much coconut flavor. If you’re a fan, you may wish for more intensity, and if you’re not into coconut, you’re totally safe. It’s usually shredded coconut, rather than coconut milk or oil, that has the pungent taste many people dislike. The bread is nothing like that.
The recipe makes one modest loaf, perfect for our family, and uses just two cups of flour for the entire loaf. When I read bread and roll recipes that begin with ‘Add 5 to 6 cups of flour’ I tune out.
Begin by warming the coconut milk, just until it begins to boil. Then, add the special ingredient that keeps the bread soft, chewy, and moist: oatmeal. You’d never know oatmeal was baked in and when mixing the dough, you’ll think there’s no way this whole cup of sloppy oatmeal is going to just disappear, but it magically does.
Let the oatmeal-coconut milk mixture cool to the proper temperature, about 15 minutes. I urge you to use a thermometer. You don’t want to add overly hot oatmeal to the yeast because you’ll kill it. Yet it has to be warm enough so the yeast activates. For me, this is in the 120 to 130F range because I use Red Star Platinum yeast. The brand of yeast used dictates the temperature.
Combine the oatmeal mixture with all-purpose flour, yeast, brown sugar, and coconut oil. My stand mixer kneaded for about 6 minutes, and if you’re kneading by hand, knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough comes together, adding as little additional flour as possible.
This is a fairly moist and sticky dough, but manageable. With bread-making, the less flour added, and the more you tolerate sticky dough, the lighter and fluffier the bread will be. Sure, I could have added another half-cup or more of flour, but refrained and dealt with the stickiness. And I have a light, fluffy loaf in return.
I used all-purpose flour because I wanted really soft and tender bread. Bread flour will produce a loaf that’s chewier. I don’t know how whole wheat flour would work. If you try it, I suggest not using more than 1 cup (50% of the total amount) for fear it won’t rise well, and will become very heavy and dense.
After kneading, place the dough into a greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Create a warm environment by preheating your oven for 1 to 2 minutes to 400F, then shutting it off. This creates a 90F-ish warm spot. Slide the bowl in and wait while the yeast works. Just make sure your oven is off.
After the dough has doubled, punch it down, turn it out onto a floured surface or Silpat and knead it for about 3 minutes.
This is my puffball after the first two-hour rise, before being punched down. You can see it’s glistening and loose, cues that the bread will turn out soft and fluffy.
With your fingers or a rolling pin, shape it into a 10-inch by 6-inch rectangle, just eyeball it. It’s being baked in an 8-inch pan and you want the long side slightly longer than the pan, so about 10 inches.
Starting with a long side, roll up the dough to form a tight cylinder. Tuck the ends in and place the cylinder in the pan. Cover it, and allow it to rise until doubled, 60 to 75 minutes. Optionally, when rolling it, sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, raisins, or dried fruit.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until domed, golden, and puffy. When tapped, it should sound hollow. Technically, the internal temperature should reach 210F, but I despise spearing pretty bread with the dagger-like thermometer probe, so I rarely do this unless I’m very uncertain. I usually rely on visual cues and tapping.
It’s so soft and fluffy, even without eggs and butter, and a great little vegan loaf. There’s a very slight chewiness, thanks to the oatmeal. But you definitely don’t think, oh there’s oatmeal in this. It’s a stealth operator.
The bread is moist and there’s a richness to the crumb that I attribute to the coconut milk and coconut oil. It’s slightly denser than this version of Sandwich Bread, which was made with water and canola oil.
It’s wonderful to eat plain, or with butter, jam, or a smear of Homemade Peanut Butter. Toast it, make French toast with it, make PB&Js for lunches with it, or put a basket of it on the dinner table and watch it disappear.
If you’ve not gotten on the coconut milk or oil train, please, hop on board.
This loaf lasted precisely 1 day.
Soft and Chewy Coconut Milk Bread
For anyone who doesn’t love coconut, there’s almost no discernible coconut scent or taste. There’s a very mild, overall sweet flavor, along with a slight nuttiness and chewiness from the oats. There’s a richness and density to the crumb that I adore, making it one of my favorite breads. It’s so soft, fluffy, tender, and moist, thanks to the coconut milk, coconut oil, and oatmeal that’s kneaded right into the dough. Total time from start to finish is about 4 hours, most of which is downtime.
- 1 cup coconut milk (I used Trader Joe’s Light)
- 1 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
- 1/4 cup water (from the tap, not hot and not cold)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour may be used and will create a heartier, chewier bread)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (canola or vegetable oil may be substitued)
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- In a 2-cup microwave-safe glass measuring cup or small bowl, heat the coconut milk until it just begins to boil; likely just over 2 minutes.
- Add oatmeal to the milk and stir to combine. Set aside and let cool until temperature reaches about 120 to 130F, about 15 minutes. (I use Red Star Platinum Yeast which necessitates this temperature; allow mixture to cool to the ~100F range for other types of instant dry yeast, or to package directions). Stir in 1/4 cup tap water.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or a large mixing bowl and knead by hand for about 10 minutes), combine flour, oil, brown sugar, instant dry yeast, and oatmeal mixture. Knead for 5 to 7 minutes on low speed, or until a moist, shaggy dough forms. The dough is quite moist and sticky, but resist the temptation to add additional flour, unless it’s so moist that it won’t combine. Conversely, if it’s too dry, add up to one-quarter cup water. Erring on the side of too moist is always preferable to too dry in bread-making.
- After kneading, turn the dough out into a large, greased bowl, cover with plasticwrap, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Create a warm environment by preheating your oven for 1 to 2 minutes to 400F, then shutting it off. This creates a 90F-ish warm spot. Slide the bowl in and wait while the yeast works. Just make sure your oven is off.
- Spray an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with (coconut) cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- After the dough has doubled, punch it down, turn it out onto a floured surface or Silpat and knead it for about 3 minutes.
- With your fingers or a rolling pin, shape dough into a 10-inch by 6-inch rectangle, just eyeball it. The long side should be slightly longer than the baking pan, which is 8 inches. Starting with a long edge, roll to form a tight cylinder. There’s not much to roll, about 3 turns. Tuck ends in and under, and place cylinder in prepared pan, seam side down. Optionally, when rolling, sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, raisins, or diced dried fruit.
- Cover pan with plasticwrap, and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 60 to 75 minutes. I use the oven trick to 400F for 1 minute trick again.
- In the last minutes of rising, preheat oven to 350F. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until lightly golden, domed, and puffy. Rotate pan midway through baking if desired. When tapped, bread should sound hollow. The internal temperature should reach 210F.
- Allow bread to cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The cooling process is important and although it’s tempting, don’t slice into warm bread. I store bread by wrapping a fully cooled loaf in plasticwrap, and place it inside a gallon-size Ziplock, where it stays fresh for about 5 days. Bread freezes very well and can be made from start to finish, cooled, and placed in a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziplock for up to 3 months. I like this bread plain, or with butter, jam, or with homemade peanut butter. It’s great toasted with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar or Cinnamon-Sugar Butter. It makes great sandwiches and French toast.
Adapted from Soft and Fluffy Sandwich Bread (vegan)
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I’m linking this bread up to Lora the Cake Duchess’ #TwelveLoaves group
Do you have a favorite bread recipe? Do you like coconut milk or coconut oil? Do you cook or bake with it?
Please share recipe links to your favorites.