I’m back from vacation and back to baking! My friend, Julia, and I just took a little vacation to Miami and Bimini. While we enjoyed Miami and had some great food there (at Versaille, the Bazaar, Yardbird, and Puetro Sagua), we really fell in love with Bimini. Bimini is a small island chain of the Bahamas, about 50 miles from Miami, with a population of about 1600. Bimini was at one point home to Ernest Hemmingway and currently contains the world famous shark lab. We stayed at a little bed and breakfast owned, by Doug, a US citizen who has lived in Bimini for the past 25 years and is friends with all the local Bahamians. Doug was our tour guide, boat captain and chef. He took us out snorkeling and taught us how to free dive for conch. He made delicious meals of freshly caught lobster, hog fish and conch (including conch chowder and cracked conch).
However, one of our favorite things that he introduced us to was Bimini bread and coconut rolls. Bimini bread looks like regular white bread but is much sweeter and has a slightly denser texture- perfect for toasting with butter or making french toast. We bought our Bimini bread from Nathle Thompson who, now in her 70s, has been making the bread for decades, making 96 loafs a day. She also makes delicious little coconut rolls. These little rolls are made out of a sweet yeast bread similar to Bimini bread and are stuffed with freshly grated coconut and sugar. With the sweet bread, it reminded me a little bit of a coconut filled brioche roll. And from this, inspiration hit, and I decided to experiment with Flour’s brioche dough recipe and a coconut filling. The result was a sweet, but softer version of Bimini’s coconut rolls: layers of brioche folder over sweetened, creamy coconut. And with each bite, I could almost imagine myself back in the sweet paradise of Bimini, relaxing under the hot sun and listening to the soft, blue waves against the beach.
Recipe for Coconut Brioche Rolls
Yields 10 rolls
Flour Brioche Dough (from the Flour cookbook)
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce (28 grams) fresh cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl.
Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.
Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 dash of cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on low-medium heat until a thick/creamy coconut paste forms, about 3-5 minutes.
1 egg, beaten
sugar for dusting on top
Roll out brioche dough on a lightly floured surface into a 20″ x 10″ rectangle. With the rectangle placed horizontally in front of you, spoon the coconut filling over the top 2/3 of the dough (you may have some unused filling leftover). Fold the bottom 1/3 of the dough over half of the coconut filling and then fold the top of the dough down, like an envelope (see pictures), creating a 20″ by 3″ log. Cut the log into 2″ pieces with a chef’s knife or bench scraper (you should have 10 pieces). Place them on a cookie sheet lines with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to proof for about 2 hours.
Once proofed, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool on a cooking rack for about 20 minutes before eating. Enjoy!