I've been doing some thinking lately about what my purpose is with all this blog writing business. It's something that I thought about doing for quite a long time before I actually started. But that's not unlike me. Usually when I'm having a conversations with a purpose, I tend to beat around the bush a few times before saying what I really mean. It's a Southern thing, really, and I find it pretty charming as an idea. On me, though, it's not the best look and I find myself moving slower about getting what I want because of it. These days I'm attempting to be more direct and just do shit. Not thinking *so* so hard about it, and just going after what I want. And in some ways it's working. I genuinely don’t feel the need to explain myself the way that I used to, nor to excuse myself for pursuing my desires with gusto, no matter how atypical or perhaps even distracted they might seem at first glance. I’m doing me, because that’s what I should be doing.
And I feel that sort of way about most things, except for writing. Writing is a separate matter. Despite the fact that I have always enjoyed keeping a personal journal of my thoughts and observations on life (hi Joan Didion), not to mention that I spend roughly 50% of my time at my day job writing as banking compliance attorney, I still continue to have a distinct to desire to both call myself, and avoid calling myself, a writer. If my love for cooking was my reason to start this blog, then my ambivalence over what it means “to write” and my fear over whether I’m able to do that, was my reason not to.
Luckily, though, writing recipes is a craft in an of itself; one that I'd like to master. Because while I find it hard to even contemplate that I would have something meaningful to contribute on, let’s say, what it means to know that inscrutable love/hate feeling for the Deep South one forever feels after expatriating to a more liberal state, I am, on the other hand, confident about saying things like “this chicken would have been way better with more acid,” or talking about how eliminating a step could save a dirtied dish. It's working for me right now and so that's where I'm at. Just putting that out there into the universe, I guess.
Well, if I'm going to writing about liking writing recipes (so meta), then I should probably get on with the recipes. It’s baked in a loaf pan and called a quick bread by those who baked it before me, so you could actually pretend that it’s a little more earnest than it is. And let me just say, if that’s something you need to do to justify having it for breakfast then by all means, you must! Call it whatever gets you to eating it the fastest, because your mornings, evenings, and afternoons will most certainly be better with this in it.
This cake/loaf/beauty bakes up into a beaming crown of carby goodness, with a crust that will have you back in the kitchen sneaking bites before you’ve even finished the piece in your hand. It’s insanely, like surprisingly insanely, good when sliced and toasted too, as the buttery inside takes on the most perfect crisp when cut and lightly broiled. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find the tangy, creamy lime curd that you can and should whip up quickly while the loaf is in the oven (promise me you will, ok?) to be the ideal compliment because it cuts the richness while still being rich itself, and you can slather on as much as you like. Me personally, I do enjoy a little coconut loaf with my lime curd.
This recipe has been passed around by many of the bloggers I have followed for years and have come to trust for their tastes in good food, all with glowing reviews. I spied this version, with the addition of the lime curd, on Food52, and when I realized I already had everything I needed to make it, suddenly everything else on my “to cook” list, including dinner, became secondary. I’m excited to add my praise to the pile. Thank you so much for reading, now let’s eat!
Coconut Quick Bread with Lime Curd, via Food52, adapted from Wednesday Chef (who clipped it from the New York Times)
Makes 1 standard loaf
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon (or if you’re me, one splash) vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unsweetened, shredded coconut
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Heat oven to 350° F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: eggs, milk and vanilla.In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, lime zest, and salt. Add sugar and coconut, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently and gradually mix until just combined. Add melted butter, and stir until smooth. Do not over-mix.
Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper. (Food52 says 8 1/2- by 4-inch, mine was 10- by 5-inch.)
Pour batter into pan, making sure it isn't filled more than 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 60 to 80 minutes, but start checking after 45 minutes.
Cool in pan 5 minutes, turn loaf onto a rack to finish cooling.To serve thick slices and toast if you desire (highly recommend). Serve them spread with lime curd.
[Note: Want to know how forgiving this recipe is? In a moment where my mental state could only be described as “D’oh!” I forgot to add the melted butter. The batter looked appropriately like pancake batter even without it! I added the butter-less batter to the lined pan and popped that bad boy in the oven, letting it cook for almost FIVE minutes before I realized my mistake. As soon as I did, I ripped it back out of the oven and scooped it mostly back into a bowl, losing a little as it stuck to the parchment that I was forced to toss. At that point I added in the melted butter, stirring as lightly as possible since it was now already over-mixed. Then I relined the pan, poured the batter in again, put it back into the oven with the timer restarted, and prayed. Everything turned out just fine! The crumb was perhaps a leeeettle denser than it would’ve been without the screw up, but pffffttt!!! Not a single slice went uneaten.]
Lime Curd, adapted from Food52
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice, Key limes preferred but I used regular ones
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 to 1 cup butterPour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.Combine the lime juice, eggs, sugar, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of a saucepan over, but not touching, the water. (Never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring; the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular.)Place the bowl over the saucepan, double boiler style, and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180° F on a thermometer. Original recipe says that this will take 10 to 12 minutes, however, I used a meat thermometer that occasionally acts up on me, and it never quite reached 18o° F. It only ever made it to about 172° F, and that took about 15 minutes. That said, it did thicken to the point that it began to look more like custard than liquid, and the whisk left a trail through the curd, as noted in the original. Don’t worry if you don’t have a thermometer, go by look and feel. You want it to be like warm pudding would be, not fully set up, but certainly no longer liquid.
Remove the bowl from over the water and let cool to 140° F, stirring from time to time to release the heat.
Meanwhile, cut butter into chunks that are 1 tablespoon each. When the lime mixture has cooled a bit, pour it into a blender or food processor. (I tried, as the original suggested I could, to do this with a hand blender, but curd. went. EVERYWHERE. and I ended up transferring it to a blender. Do not recommend using a hand blender here.) With the blender running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until incorporated. Taste the curd after you have added 1/2 cup of the butter. If you like the taste, stop adding butter. If you think it needs more, continue adding butter by the tablespoon until it tastes right. (I used about 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons, but in retrospect it would’ve set up just fine without the last 2 tablespoons.) The curd should be pale yellow, opaque and quite thick.Pour it into a storage container, and let it set up a bit as it cools. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. It should last at least a couple of weeks in the fridge.