Jamaican Coco Bread is a tender and soft sandwich bread that’s typically paired with Jamaican patties. The bread is shaped with a pocket for fillings and can be filled with callaloo, cheese, patties or practically anything of your choice.
Coco bread is typically buttery, soft and mildly sweet, much like Hawaiian dinner rolls. It’s made from simple ingredients of flour, coconut milk, butter and a small amount of sugar. The process of making the bread will require some waiting time for the yeast to work just as with other breads. However, the end results are worth every second of the wait.
For this recipe I used active dry yeast. When working with yeast, it’s best to activate it to make sure it isn’t too old or dead BEFORE adding it to the flour. The worst way to find out that yeast does not work is after the dough is already made. I warm the liquid used in the dough (milk or water) and add the yeast and allow it to foam for 5 minutes. If the yeast becomes foamy, then it is alive and good for use in the bread. If the yeast never foams, then it is dead and you will need to start over. It is super important that the temperature of the liquid is correct. It should be anywhere between 80-90 degrees which should feel like bath water if tested with your fingers. If there is any discomfort from dipping your finger into the liquid, then it is too hot. If it feels slightly cool, then it is too cold.
The salt should be the LAST ingredient added so it does not interfere with the yeast.
Bread flour can be used for this recipe but it’s also perfectly okay to use all-purpose flour.
Coco bread uses coconut milk probably because it was so readily available on the island. If you can’t get your hands on full fat coconut milk, you can use regular whole milk.
You will need to allow the dough to rise twice. After kneading the dough for 10 minutes, it will need to rest and rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. The second rise will be after forming the breads. They will rest and rise for 30-40 minutes and then bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown.
What’s the warmest place in your kitchen?
You can use your oven to proof the dough. A really cool trick is to place the covered dough on the top shelf of the oven. Then place a cake tin on the lowest shelf of the oven and pour boiling hot water into it. Close the oven door and allow the dough to rise. If your kitchen is cold, this is the easiest way to create a warm place for dough to rise.
Tools you will need:
- Baking tray
- Parchment Paper
- Large Mixing Bowl or Stand Mixer
- Tea saucer
- Sharp knife
- 1 ¼ cups coconut milk
- 2 ¼ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast, or 1 packet
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, divided use
- 1 egg
- 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small microwavable bowl, heat coconut milk in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Test the temperature of the milk to make sure it is lukewarm, about 80-90 degrees fahrenheit. If using your finger, the milk should feel like bath water. If there is any discomfort from dipping your finger into the milk, it may be too hot. Allow it to sit and cool down until it is warm.
- To the milk, add the entire packet of yeast and white sugar. Gently stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes. The yeast should get foamy after 5 minutes. If it is not foamy, the yeast is dead and you will need to repeat step 1.
- In a large bowl, add 4 tablespoons of the melted butter, the yeast mixture, 1 egg and 2 cups of flour. Mix slowly until smooth with the dough hook attachment for your stand mixer. If you do not have a stand mixer, complete this step with a wooden spoon by hand. Add the remaining 2 and ¼ cups flour to the bowl and continue to mix gently until a dough forms. Add salt and keep the mixer running to knead the dough for 8 minutes.
If you are NOT using a mixer, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes until smooth. Skip to step 6.
5. After kneading with the dough hook for 8 minutes, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for an additional 2 minutes.
6. Oil a large bowl (you can use the same one the dough was kneaded in) and place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp cloth and let it rise for an hour in the warmest part of your kitchen. (See notes above about proofing dough)
7. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle flour on the top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll it to about ½ inch thickness.
8. Use a tea saucer or a 5 inch round to cut out circles in the dough. Fold the dough over and press down on the rounded edges to seal. Place coco breads on a lined baking tray and cover with cling wrap. Allow the bread to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
9. Bake the breads in a 350 degree preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.
Do not add these to a cold oven.
10. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush the tops of the breads. You may also add some butter to the inside of the breads while they are still hot. Serve warm with your favorite fillings.