Vegan Monday: Pumpkin Coconut Bread

Just in time for Vegan Monday and Thanksgiving, I accidentally made this amazingly good quick bread. It was an accident because I didn't even know it was vegan.

Another of the things I have come to count on in my life, is that when I go to visit my Parents, there is usually a quick bread involved. It's ready when I come in, hungry with travel. It's ready when I need a little something sweet after dinner and before dessert. It's ready with the coffee when my early rising Mom quietly hits the kitchen long before I awake - she slices it in fat slices and cuts them in half, arranging them on a platter for quick grabbing when the rest of the household joins her in the kitchen.

There are numerous breads we enjoy, certainly banana bread and it's variations run a common thread throughout the year, taking care of any sad members that ripen too quickly on our counters. I was just thinking that it was about time to make Ina's Date Nut Spice Bread, a Fall favorite of mine, when I visited last weekend and found this tender pumpkin coconut bread waiting on the counter. My Mom found the recipe in her October co-op newsletter, and had it earmarked for awhile.

It's not a quick bread to me, if it doesn't have the hallmark cracked middle...

One reason my family may love quick breads is that so often, the recipes are written to make two loaves. When you don't know how many people will be dropping by, or if you wish to gift a loaf and eat one yourself, baking two loaves instead of just one is just plain economical. Hiding it in your freezer makes for an instant short notice treat, and giving one as a gift makes you just plain popular. This one was so good, I snapped a picture of the recipe with the iPhone, enhanced it in mobile Photoshop for easier reading, and planned my baking week around making it for Friday. I knew I had a taker for one of my two loaves, and wanted to wait for the end of the workweek, so it was fortunate that my Mom had baked two loaves. I had a half loaf gift to tide me over until I could bake it myself. It wasn't until I was actually mixing it up, that I noticed is was totally vegan.

Vegan baking can be tricky, since sometimes there isn't a whole lot of rise and the results can be too dense. Usually, a "healthy" tasting bread emerges, edible, but not fully enjoyed. This is not that bread. In fact, it is so moist and tender you would swear it was laden with butter. It probably helps that it is packed with sugar, but, c'mon... it's Thanksgiving! If you can pick one good time to indulge during the year, this is it. You could make half the recipe, but you may as well make two and give one to someone you love.

I think quick breads taste best at room temperature, but for longer storage, you can refrigerate it. If you slice them cold, the slices will be neater. The slices come back to room temperature fairly quickly, which is good for me since I do store it in the fridge. If I leave something like this sitting around on my counter, I tend to eat a bit every time I walk past it. I've got to "straighten those rows", you know.

Pumpkin Coconut Bread (originally called Coconut Pumpkin Nut Bread from the People's Food Co-Op newsletter)
makes 2 loaves, easily halved
  • 3 1/2 c. ap flour
  • 2 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (scant 2 cups)
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. flaked coconut, I use unsweetened shredded Let's Do Organic!)
  • 1 c. toasted chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans, I used a spray with flour.

Combine flour, sugars, pumpkin, oil, coconut milk, baking soda salt and spices. Mix well until blended. Fold in coconut and nuts. Spread gently into prepared pans.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking after an hour. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, remove from pans, and cool completely on a cooling rack.

If you are savvy (and I was not, but will remember to be next time...), you can make sure to cut the two pieces of foil large enough to wrap the finished breads in. I saved my steaming pieces for another use, but if you were short on foil, you could kill two birds with the one stone. I have never used this steaming technique before, but the bread is nice and moist, so I'm keeping it as a trick up my sleeve.

I like wrapping things in foil, and usually keep a roll of "heavy duty" on hand to use for the demands of opening and closing sometimes many times a day. I try to be neat about it, and usually use a wrapping that I learned from folding origami. There's something about a fresh shiny brick gracing my counter top, and it's even more exciting to know that something delicious is preserved from the elements beneath something as utilitarian as aluminum foil.

It also makes a good package for dropping off. So, weather you need a Thanksgiving morning treat or a little something to bring to a get-together, this is the bread for you. Vegan, or not, I promise you won't know the difference!

UPDATE 10/2011:

These also make great muffins, a whole batch makes 2 1/2 - 3 dozen, depending on how full you fill the tins. I have also made them easily with half the amount of sugar, and replaced the coconut milk with yogurt or milk in a pinch with fine results (though dairy milks will render them non-vegan).