trinidadian coconut sweet bread

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When I was a kid, and my family would go visit my grandparents, more often than not that visit would include Trinidadian Coconut Sweet Bread — or just “Sweet Bread,” as we Trinis call it. It’s a pretty traditional bread, kind of like banana bread, but less banana-y and way more coconutty. You could eat it for dessert, I suppose, but more often it’s eaten with mug of tea for breakfast, or any time in the day.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I’d try to make it. So I did. And it was … not good. I mean the flavour was fine, but the texture was completely off. It was really demoralizing.

But this weekend, I screwed up my courage and decided to try again, this time making a few modifications to the recipe. And, not to sound conceited, but I nailed it. So I thought I’d share it here, partly so I don’t forget what I did, but mostly because everyone should have sweet bread with their hot tea at some point in their lives.

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trinidadian coconut sweet bread

(adapted liberally from Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago)

makes 2 loaves


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
2-1/2 cups grated, dried, unsweetened coconut
1 13-1/2 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

In one bowl, mix the dried coconut with the coconut milk thoroughly. Set aside for about 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Add in the butter, coconut mixture, raisins and dried cranberries.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, and mix well. You will have a heavy batter. Divide the batter equally between the prepared loaf pans, and sprinkle with sugar on top. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove the breads from the oven and let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Enjoy a slice with a cup of tea. Or coffee. Or, you know, a shot of rum. Whatever makes you feel most Trini.

(This bread freezes well, and keeps for about a month in the freezer, and 2 weeks, refrigerated.)