A Spoonful of Adventure: Sweet paradise and coconut rolls in Bimini

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.

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