Friday, May 1

Lemon Coconut Quick Bread Recipe: A Little Slice of Toasted Heaven

Moist and flavorful, this hearty lemon coconut bread is my new favorite breakfast, snack, and dessert.

I love taking pictures, and whether I'm feeding the animals, working in the kitchen garden, picking up hay in the field, or walking on the ridge above the farm, my beloved little camera is strapped around my neck. The few times I don't have it with me, I usually miss some great shot.

Like the other day when my favorite 5-year-old cowboy, decked out in his kid-sized hat and boots, was holding one of the new baby chicks to his chest and nuzzling it with his chin. Or when he said, "Susan, look! I got the cat!" and I turned to find his skinny little arms wrapped around the upper half of a very patient Topaz, her tortie belly displayed to the world, bottom legs dangling nearly to the ground. Talk about a daily dose of cute.

I don't, however, have a whole lot of enthusiasm for food photography. When my friend Beth sent me an e-mail message yesterday that said, Have to figure out how to get a decent photo of my pomegranate limoncello sorbet... ugh, I knew exactly what she meant.

But the truth is, I don't have enough patience for all the technical aspects involved, not to mention the whole lighting and tripod thing. Confession: I've never actually used my tripod, and my lighting comes from two four-foot-long bare fluorescent bulbs on the kitchen ceiling.

I have no tolerance for positioning minced chives with tweezers and will never be able to fold kitchen towels in that perfect, magazine spread way. I'm a point-and-shoot girl at heart and would rather be outside finding farm art, snapping away at sunrises, or capturing cuteness than trying to make a delicious but murky bowl of soup or batch of brown bran muffins look appealing.

I also have a kitchen counter space availability situation—as in, I never have any available kitchen counter space on which to conduct a photo shoot. Sometimes I take stuff outside. Usually I just procrastinate.

Consequently, I know of at least two bowls of soup that went straight from the photo shoots to the compost bin because they still looked fine but were inedible. And the All-Purpose Arugula Cottage Cheese Dip/Spread/Sauce I've become addicted to lately was photographed in an itty bitty dish because I'd already eaten most of it—as well as the two previous batches.

This probably isn't the sort of stuff I should be admitting on a food blog.

When it came to taking pictures of this lemon coconut bread, the real challenge lay in the fact that I was unable to stop devouring it long enough to clear a space on the counter. When I finally did, I decided it was far too late at night to begin styling, so I had another slice and put the photo shoot off until morning.

Lemon Coconut Quick Bread
Makes one 8½-inch or 9½-inch loaf—Adapted from bills restaurant via Baking Bites

**Click here to print this recipe**

This easy recipe (no mixer required!) is Nic at Baking Bites' new lemony version of the coconut bread served at bills restaurant in Sydney, Australia. What first caught my attention was how much coconut is packed into one loaf—a full two cups.

Nic makes hers with sweetened coconut, but I strongly suggest you try the unsweetened kind. If you've never tasted natural, unsweetened coconut, you're in for a real treat. The coconut flavor really comes through, and unlike the sweetened stuff, it doesn't contain preservatives like propylene glycol and sodium metabisulfite. Look for it in the bulk section at natural foods stores, or you can order it online. I buy Bob's Red Mill brand from amazon; it's only about $4 a pound, and you get quite a few cups per pound.

While I find that most quick breads are really cake in disguise, this is more like bread, which means you can eat a slice or two for breakfast with nary a twinge of guilt. Not that I've ever had a problem eating cake for breakfast. It's sweet but not too sweet, heavy and dense but not too dense (this is not a light and fluffy cake!), nicely moist, and altogether scrumptious any time of day.

Unlike last year's popular Orange Yogurt Cake, this lemon coconut bread doesn't cry out to be served up with fresh berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, though I think a dollop of lemon curd spread on a slice would be dreamy. Next I'm going to try replacing the lemon with orange.

A slice is very nice all by itself, but something heavenly happens when you toast it and slather it with butter, which is how they serve it at bills. If you do your toasting in a toaster oven, try dotting the toasted slice with butter and then popping it back into the oven for a minute or two so the butter melts into the warm bread. Mmmmm.

I made a few small changes to Nic's recipe: rounded the butter up to an even stick, added a little more sugar to make up for the unsweetened coconut, and baked it in a smaller pan because I prefer a taller loaf. You'll need to reduce the baking time by a few minutes if you use a 9-inch pan. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference.

A note about loaf pans: Sizes vary! In the U.S., loaf pans are generally referred to as 8-inch and 9-inch, but the actual dimensions (measured across the top) of my Chicago Metallic 8-inch loaf pans (which they simply call 1-pound loaf pans) are 8½" x 4½" and they're 2¾" tall. (I love these pans for baking both quick breads and sandwich loaves like Farmhouse White.) If your pan is smaller than this, use a larger size for this recipe or the batter may overflow. (My Chicago Metallic 1½-pound loaf pans measure 10"x5"x3".)

2½ cups organic all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
2 large real farm eggs
¾ cup organic milk
½ cup fresh organic lemon juice
1 Tablespoon organic lemon zest (or more if you want a bigger kick of lemon)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick or ¼ pound) organic butter, melted

1. Heat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8½x4½x2¾ inch or 9x5 inch loaf pan (see note above regarding loaf pan sizes).

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt using a rubber spatula, then stir in the sugar and coconut.

3. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture, stirring just until combined.

5. Add the melted butter and stir just until smooth; do not over mix.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Ovens vary, so start checking to see if it's done after about 60 minutes (50 minutes if you're using a 9x5 inch pan). If the top of the loaf is getting very brown and the center isn't cooked yet, cover it lightly with a piece of aluminum foil.

7. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes and then carefully remove it from the pan. Try not to slice into the loaf until it's completely cool, but that probably won't be possible. Store in an airtight container for 3 days or wrap in plastic and/or aluminum foil, pop in a plastic zipper bag, and freeze.

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the gladly going coconuts foodie farm blog where it's probably a good thing I didn't try toasting a slice of this bread until the loaf was already halfway gone.


  1. Ooh, sounds delicious - I'll definitely be making a loaf this weekend!

  2. That sounds scrum-diddlee-iscious! And it also sounds like something that could be made any time of the year. I have this habit of buying citrus now and then, just for the zest. (I need zest to keep us in scones.) I juice the fruits, freeze the juice in ice cube trays, throw the cubes in the chest freezer, and forget about them. This sounds like just the thing for baking on a dreary day. Thanks!

  3. Bah. Food photography. Can't be bothered. I'd rather eat. One of the many, many reasons I don't have a food blog.

  4. Oh, this sounds scrumptious!! I, too am surprised at the amount of coconut, but I love the stuff and can chew on it just as is.
    I always love visiting you(r) and your blog. So much fun stuff, pics and yes, food! I shamefully admit to wondering, "when will she stop nattering on & give me the recipe!"
    heehee!! Thanks for always making me smile,
    Heather in Montreal

  5. This sounds delicious, but no one in my family (except me) likes coconut. Is there an alternate ingredient?

  6. Oh, gosh that bread looks go! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oooh, I've got all those ingredients and I'm raring for something just like this for breakfast tomorrow! Thanks.

  8. Oh my yum!!! This looks divine, sounds heavenly and I can't wait to give it a try! Thank you. And thanks for the tip about coconut at Whole Foods. I'm gonna give that a try too.

  9. This recipe sounds wonderful. I know a man who will go crazy for it. I plan on making it on my day off. I can't wait.

  10. The "quick" bit in the title wins me over. Will have to give it a go.

  11. Just saved this recipe to make when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and friends are coming to tea.
    I feel your photo styling pain, Susan. Personally, I think point and shoot photography is woefully underrated.

  12. Hi Everybody,Thanks for the comments. I think you'll really enjoy this cake - and it really does come together quickly. Of course it disappears almost as quickly, too, LOL.

    Hi Kate,Freezing fresh citrus juice when you only need the zest is a great idea!

    Hi Daisy,The coconut is pretty much the star of this bread, but if you like the sound of this particular recipe because it isn't overly sweet and has that nice dense and toastable texture, you might try simply leaving out the coconut. I would reduce the baking time since you won't have as much batter. If you try it, I hope you'll let us know how it comes out.

    Otherwise, if you're just looking for a simple citrus loaf bread/cake recipe, I would try my Easy Orange Yogurt Cake instead.

    Hi Christine,I think this would be the perfect thing to serve at teatime!

  13. I made this yesterday & love the bread. Thank you so much for posting this recipe.


  14. I was with you until I got to the part where there is a whole stick of butter in one loaf. Is there any way to replace some of that butter with a more healthy fat?

  15. Hi Cinnamonda,I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for taking the time to let us know. : )

    Hi Katiedid,Personally I don't think real butter (which really has no flavor equal) is unhealthy when enjoyed in moderation, though I do highly recommend buying organic butter.

    One half cup of butter (one stick) for this size loaf is actually on the low side compared to many recipes, but since the original version from bills restaurant called for 1/3 cup, you could start by trying that, which would cut out about 2½ Tablespoons.

    Other options would be to try substituting an all natural, trans fat free vegetable oil stick such as Earth Balance (I use it successfully in some of my baked goods). Or you could try half butter and half yogurt cheese.

    If you do make this bread with butter substitutions, I hope you'll let us know how it comes out. : )

  16. What a relief! I just started my food blog a few months ago, and the picture taking drives me nuts! I have a dark house to start with, and Portland, OR isn't exactly sunshine central, argh. I love your blog! And now I feel so much better about hating the food pic thing.

  17. That's a girl! I love the massive butter-to-bread ratio! My sista!

  18. Thanks for the substitution ideas! I will give it a whirl and come back and post how it goes.

  19. Susan,

    I made this and while the taste is great I think I made a few mistakes. It did not rise well. I use milk straight from a cow and I was wondering if you need to allow the lemon juice to sit in the milk for a few minutes to sour it or keep it seperated? I know the directions say to mix it together but I wasnt sure that it would work. Then I had to use sweetened coconut. So I only used a half a cup of sugar. Should I have used more? The taste is great. The slices toasted are great with home made cream cheese. But I do want a nice fluffy quick bread.

  20. That bread looks wonderful! Perfect for munching while I scroll through Farmgirl Fare yet again, looking at all those too-cute baby lambs ( and the donkey girls)!

  21. Hi Jonica,I'm glad you liked the recipe. Cream cheese on a slice sounds great!

    As for your questions - if your loaf didn't rise much, my first thought is that your baking powder might not be fresh enough. It doesn't last all that long once opened, so if it's been open more than a few months, toss it out and buy a new container. (I like Rumford brand because it works well for me and doesn't contain aluminum like many brands do.) If you live in a humid place (like Missouri!), it literally may go bad within a month or two of being opened, especially in summer.

    That said, this isn't a light and fluffy bread, and it doesn't rise all that much (though it definitely does rise some). It's fairly dense and heavy, especially with all that coconut, but in a good way - and I think that's why it toasts so well. If you want a lighter cake, I'd try my Easy Orange Yogurt Cake recipe and maybe add some coconut.

    Using only 1/2 cup sugar probably changed things a little, too, though I've reduced the sugar on other baked goods without it making much, if any, difference. Nic's original version called for 1 cup of sugar, and she used sweetened coconut.

    I used milk straight from a cow, too, and I did mix the lemon juice and milk together, though I didn't specifically let them sit together once combined.

    I hope this helps. And I hope if you try the recipe again, you'll let us know how it comes out. Happy baking! : )

  22. Yum! I'll definitely try this :)

  23. ohhhh.

    trying this over the weekend.

  24. Thank you for your help! I went and tried to find out by my grocery book when I last brought baking powder and gasp I couldnt find it! So since I live in a nice hot humid area Maryland near the inner harbor. I think I will buy a few cans and store them in the freezer like I do with everything else to keep the humidity away. That way I can open a can a month. Planting the summer garden this weekend if the rain ever lets up. It has been rainging for a solid week and a half so far.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog. Wish I could keep a few more animals on my property but zoning laws and the county are not too happy with me for the cow and chickens and dogs.....etc.....


  25. The secret to quick breads is not to bake them at 350!

    If you bake them at 300, they don't have that too brown, dry outer crust. It takes about 10 minutes longer, but it is so worth it.

  26. A couple of years ago I got cute and had a child's birthday party where we potted up calamondin orange seedlings. And now, I have "sort of" oranges in north Alabama...and three of them came off a plant yesterday! THIS IS MY RECIPE. Thanks.

  27. I'm on my way to the store now! I can't wait! I also have no idea how to say "baking powder" in Spanish, but they do bake here, so they must have it!

  28. Hey, Susan! Just thought I'd let you know I made a triple batch of this recipe and it came out great. Completely independent of your suggestion, my decadent dh hit upon the idea of toasting this stuff and slathering it with butter. Great minds think alike I suppose.

    Blogged it here:

  29. I made this bread over the weekend ... OH.MY.GOSH! It is amazingly wonderful, and, sadly, almost gone! So good! I've had to run extra just to keep the slices I've eaten off the hips. You were right ... so easy to make as well. I've passed the recipe on to three others just in the last two days. YAY for Lemon Coconut Quick Bread. :)

  30. nancy from mass5/19/2009 2:40 PM

    This bread is fantastic! I will have to make sure I always have coconut on hand to make this.

  31. ¡¡Hello!!! My name is Eugenia. I live in Argentina. Meanwhile I was enjoying the sunday morning I found your blog and I have been reading your articules and looking to your photos for at least two hours!!!. You have published wonderfull recipes that I will prove sooner at home!!! Besides I have sit Karen (my little niece) by me side. She is only one and a half years old and she is learning the animals I have shown her plenty ou photos that both enjoy a lot!!!. We had a wonderfull time!!!
    Your blog is really beautifull.
    I will go on visiting you!!!
    All the best from Argentina!!!

  32. I made this dish last week and it was amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe, it is one we will be enjoying again and again!

  33. Dolmenhunter@hotmail.com9/05/2009 3:55 AM

    Dear Farmgirl, I'm from Budapest, Hungary a bit of a way away from your place. I love to eat, cook and experiment and your lemon-coconut bread sounded so delicious that now it's in the owen.
    It looks like you are not familiar with Hungarian farm and shepherd food. If you like and want to experiment I can suggest some ideas.
    And thx for the recipes and links$

  34. Didn't manage to find finely-shredded coconut, only coarsely shredded, so the bread turned out with a lumpy sort of "rustic" texture (which I happen to like.) It is a bit difficult to eat without getting crumbs all over yourself, though, which is not a problem, except in front of company :) Will try it with the other stuff next time. Great recipe!

  35. Made this bread over the weekend. I should've used more lemon zest. Otherwise --- DELISH! The toasting and butter is perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  36. This looks very good but did sneak a peak at you Emergency Chocolate Cake. Needless to say I quite often have emergencies and loved your quote "one loses all ability to think clearly. Actually, one loses all ability to think of absolutely anything except getting one's hands on some chocolate cake...
    All I can say to that is AMEN SISTA!~! I knew there was a really good reason I love your blogs!!!

  37. This is a great recipe. I love coconut and lemon separately, as well as combined, made the loaf today and love the density and flavor.

    The only substitution I made, and I recommend it, was to use coconut milk instead of cow milk. It made a stronger flavor, without overpowering the lemon at all.

    I'm looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  38. To DAISY

    You could try substituting finely chopped walnuts for the coconut. I've made lemon loaves quite often with the lemon-walnut combo. As Farmgirl suggests, you may have to tweak the recipe.

  39. This just came out of the oven! It only took 50 minutes in my 9x5 pan, next time I will try the suggestion to bake at 300, as it did get a little too dark around the edges for my taste. My grocer carries raw coconut that looks like shavings, so I just put it through the grater on my food processor.

    yum! Thanks for a fantastic recipe! Going to make some rhubarb cherry jam later that I think will go well with it!

    1. Hi Cheri,
      I'm so glad you liked it! Rhubarb cherry jam on top sounds great. :)

      Thanks for the 9x5 pan baking info. Baking times can really vary - the loaf I made the other day in an 8x4 inch pan took 75 minutes to bake. It did get pretty brown on the edges, but it tasted great - and Joe assured me it looked fine. ;)

      I was intrigued by the commenter above who said they baked all their quick breads at 300 degrees instead of 350, but I've never tried it. I'm afraid in the 8x4 inch pan this bread would take forever. ;)

  40. Thank you for sharing this recipe. The bread looks so delicious and it makes me hungry. I have to try soon. I am a huge fan of anything coconut and i like to share this date almond coconut truffle recipe :-)

  41. HELP! This recipe looks so good; had to try it. I followed the recipe exactly, even used my 8x4 pan since that seemed to be the one you used. Granted, I'm not the most experienced baker in the world, but the batter seemed to be way too much for the pan. I proceeded anyway after double-checking (three times!) and put it in the 8x4 pan. Really filled it up. Anyway, it's baking and overflowing the pan. Can you imagine what in the world I did wrong? Honestly, I can't see what I did wrong. I looked at all the Comments and nobody else seemed to have this problem!

    HELP? Thanks. I really like your blog, by the way.


    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I'm really sorry about your overflowing batter. This recipe does push the limits of an 8-inch pan, filling it up more than most. I've just added this note to the recipe, which I hope will help:

      A note about loaf pans: Sizes vary! In the U.S., loaf pans are generally referred to as 8-inch and 9-inch, but the actual dimensions (measured across the top) of my Chicago Metallic 8-inch loaf pans (which they simply call 1-pound loaf pans) are 8½" x 4½" and they're 2¾" tall. If your pan is smaller than this, use a larger size for this recipe or the batter may overflow. (My Chicago Metallic 1½-pound loaf pans measure 10"x5"x3".)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know what happened. Hopefully now we can keep it from happening to anybody else! :)

  42. Ok, even after several changes this bread was amazing! Recently found out I was allergic to milk and eggs so I used coconut oil for butter, almond milk for milk and energ egg replacer. Also, I used evaporated cane sugar. It was still the most amazing bread.....ever. I can't imagine it being any better but would give anything to try the original recipe! Thank you so much. Finding yummy recipes that handle ingredient replacements well is difficult. This bread will be a staple at my house!

  43. Just made this during a blizzard. Delicious! The only change I would make is even MORE lemon next time. I'm going to try toasting it with some raspberry jam.

  44. I was looking for something to use up a lot of unsweetened coconut, and found this....How perfect for this snowy day! I used orange instead of lemon, and added poppy seeds because hey why not!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

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I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

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