Coconut, pineapple, and bananas make for a taste of old Hawaii in this quick bread recreated from memory, of an island journey taken long ago. Pineapple Coconut Banana Bread is often breakfast, in the most Hawaiian of ways.
A Good Gift Goes Both Ways
True confession time, I developed this recipe in 2017. Part of a quest to re-create a coconut and pineapple-laden banana bread I fell in love with many moons ago on a trip to Molokai, one of the lesser touristic islands of Hawaii. It was a gift from a local diving instructor who took me on my first night-dive. I was so overwhelmed by the experience I tipped him fifty bucks. (It was well worth it, trust me!) The next day he arrived early in the morning with warm banana bread, fresh from his mother’s oven, caulk full of island flavour.
The Scent of Island Paradise
If I close my eyes I can still smell its sunny aroma wafting upon the breeze, as I stood there, warm banana bread in hand, trying to tell him that it was a wonderful gesture but not at all necessary. He smiled and told me his mother insisted – and – would I join his family for a traditional Hawaiian dinner, please?
Of course I did, it would be rude not to. It was an intimate meal, replete with kindness. Tales of culture and history that only a native islander could tell. It framed my experience of Molokai and, looking back on it now, lit a fire to understand the depth of the link between culture, history, and food.
It Took 25 Years To Get This Recipe JUST Right
I know, right?! Crazy. Here’s the deal, pineapple can be a tricky partner in the kitchen. Why? Because fresh pineapple contains an enzyme, called bromelain, that can make certain applications difficult. Bromelain, while excellent for health, as a natural anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, and healing agent, can make for poor results in the kitchen. Bromelain prevents gelatin from setting and, when combined with pineapple’s natural acidity, can curdle butter-based batters because it breaks down proteins. Cooking fresh pineapple destroys this enzyme, so it’s essential to use canned pineapple in this recipe.
Usually, I’m big on butter. But, no matter how hard I tried I could not get the flavour and texture to where I wanted it in this recipe until I switched the fat to coconut oil.
And last but not least, coconut. Absolutely MUST be unsweetened coconut or your Banana Bread will burn like the dickens!
Pre-heat oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C). Prep two – 9 x 4 loaf pans with non-stick spray or smear liberally with butter. As an added measure to protect the bottom from burning, line with parchment paper.
In a bowl cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
In separate bowl combine dry ingredients; flour, salt and baking soda. Measure and mash bananas separately and reserve.
Add dry ingredients to creamed sugar mixture – one third at a time – alternately with mashed bananas. Fold gently to mix.
Scoop into prepared bread pans, to approximately ¾ full. Sprinkle with course sugar if using. Bake at 350⁰F (175⁰C) for 40 – 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan. Once cool enough to handle remove to wire rack to cool completely before cutting. If you can wait that long!
If you like big, ballsy domed banana bread by all means use just one pan (preferably 9 x 5). Be sure to include the parchment paper on the bottom and place it to bake on a cookie sheet to further protect the bottom from scorching. Tent the pan with aluminum foil at the 40 minute mark, then return to the oven for another 20 – 25 minutes, to protect the top and sides from browning too quickly. Burnt crust will make your banana bread bitter on the outside and distract from your amazing baking skills. Bake well!
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.