I first made this on a dismal October morning after a long, uncharacteristically hot summer that had beamed in from mid-May until that particular drizzly day. My normally bright home was grey and miserable, and I yearned for the weather of the weeks and months before. Looking to inject some sunshine into my mood, I surveyed my tin collection and plucked out pineapples and coconut milk, and the Pina Colada bread was born. This recipe makes a rather large loaf; leftovers make for a phenomenal bread and butter pudding.
Makes 1 enormous loaf or 2 smaller ones, to serve approx 10 from 15p each.
2 tsp dried active yeast
400g of pineapple chunks
500ml coconut milk (I make this with 400ml full fat coconut milk and 100ml water)
750g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
First activate your yeast; give it a little warm bath to encourage it into life. Don’t make it too hot, though; the optimum temperature is somewhere around 40°C, or just comfortably warm. Too hot and you’ll kill off the yeast, which means your bread will sulk and refuse to rise. So pop it into a small cup with 50ml warm water, and leave it for a few minutes, to start to bubble and grow.
In the meantime, blitz the pineapple chunks – drained of the juice, you can keep it for something else – and coconut milk in a blender to make a kind of pineapple smoothie. This step is not strictly essential; if you don’t have a blender you can use the pineapple chunks whole, which makes for a different result but still a deliciously pleasant one. However you use it, tip the coconut milk and pineapple into a large mixing bowl. Add half the flour, and the warm yeast mixture, and mix swiftly but firmly to form a batter.
Gradually incorporate the remaining flour, a large heaped spoon at a time, until a dough is formed. I have made many loaves of bread over the years and have found that a non-serrated butter knife is the best implement to bring a dough together, as it doesn’t stick awkwardly to any edges. If you don’t have one, the well-oiled handle of a clean wooden spoon works just as well. It will feel a little odd at first, but it works!
When you have a soft, squashy dough, heavily flour your worktop and tip the dough carefully onto it. Knead it for around 5 minutes, pushing it away from you with the palm of your hand, then folding it in half, giving it a quarter turn, and repeating, getting faster as you gain a little confidence with it. You should feel a change in the texture of the dough as you need it; it will become springy and slightly buoyant to touch – this is when you stop and leave it alone! Scoop it back into the mixing bowl and cover with cling film or – as I often do these days – a loosely plonked plastic bag with the handles tucked beneath the bowl so no air can escape and dry out the dough.
Leave it to rise for 2 hours in a warm place, or 3 in a not-so-warm one. If your kitchen is generally cold, wrap the base of the bowl in a thick towel or fluffy dressing gown to snuggle it and get it going.
When risen, the dough should be doubled in size. Shape it into a round or a log, pop it on a baking tray or into a large cake tin. Leave it for another hour to prove – that’s a second rise.
Preheat your oven to 170°C (fan 150℃/gas mark 3) about 10 minutes before the proving hour is up, and make sure there is a shelf positioned just below the middle of the oven.
Pop the bread in for 1 hour, until risen and golden. Tip out of the tin and enjoy warm, or cool, and store leftovers in an airtight bag or container for 3 days, or in the freezer in slices for up to 6 months.