Cuckoo for Coco Bread
The best cure for a wintery mix—weather-speak for wet, cold, sloppy misery from the sky and DC’s current forecast—is a tropical diversion. If I could get on a plane headed south this second, I would. Alas, my accursed responsibility gene is keeping me from the sun-delivered Vitamin D, ridiculously sweet cocktails and tropical-fruit-laden foods of the Caribbean that I so obsessively crave. Recreating my favorites at home, then, seems to be my best, current option.
When I was in Roatán, Honduras, a century ago (read: 1.5 years), we greeted morning every day at one of the many laid-back food joints lining the turquoise water at Half Moon Bay. The breakfasts themselves were unspectacular—except for a delicious, toasted bread that came with every meal. We raved about it to our unimpressed wait staff. They told us, “It’s just bread.” The look on their face said, “Ridiculous gringas.”
But it wasn’t just bread. It was airy, cakey, with a large crumb and, while not sweet, definitely had something more going on than water, flour and yeast. We asked and asked for a recipe or at least the secret ingredient. Finally, some poor woman took pity on us and let on that it was made of coconut.
Honduran pan de coco is a staple on the Bay Islands and, if my research holds, the brainchild of the Garífuna people who inhabit the area. It is bread, not pound cake, with flour and yeast transformed by unsweetened shredded coconut and/or coconut milk. (The recipe, like any staple handed down over time, varies on this and other points.) The coconut neither overwhelms nor weighs down what is definitely a white bread—a slice of which will make the best toast you’ll ever eat. Slathered with butter, it has changed my latitude.
Meanwhile, speaking of tropical drinks, the poison of choice on Roatán is the Monkey La La. Sweet enough to crack your teeth, it is the house specialty at the Sundowner, despite frequent island power outages. (The La La allegedly contains ice cream.) Try at your own risk and plan on a hearty breakfast–with pan de coco!–to soak up your sins and bring your glucose down to a more reasonable level.