Coco Bread Recipe

These buttery, tender, and lightly sweet Jamaican breads are the perfect vehicle for a beef patty, fried fish fillet, or just a slathering of sweet butter.

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Photograph: Daniel Gritzer

Why It Works

  • Brushing the rounds with melted butter during the folding steps and (optionally) after baking enriches the coco breads and keeps the layers distinct for easy stuffing later on.
  • Warming the milk helps get the proofing stage off to a quicker start.

Coco bread is, simply put, special. Satisfyingly dense and moist, with a slightly sweet, buttery bite, Jamaican coco bread is universally loved on the island. A “patty and coco bread”—a piping hot beef patty stuffed inside a moist coco breadbag—from one of our best known local bakeries (Tastee or Juici Beef) is standard fare for school children, and a popular on-the-go lunch for grownups, at its best when enjoyed straight out of a brown paper bag. It’s cheap, filling, and ridiculously delicious. If you want the full Jamaican experience, throw in a D&G Kola Champagne or D&G Ginger Beer on the side.

Homemade coco bread starts with a sweet, yeasted enriched dough that's mixed by hand and briefly kneaded until it's soft and elastic. After proofing, we portion the dough into balls, and roll the balls into rounds. Brushing them with melted butter and folding them into quarters* makes a sort of pocket that, when baked, is a perfect vessel for stuffing or making sandwiches. Aside from the aforementioned beef patty, we recommend filling coco bread with a battered, fried fish fillet and top with pickled onions, scotch bonnet pepper, and tartar sauce. Or try warmed coco bread slathered with herb butter and dipped in rich and creamy Jamaican red pea or pumpkin soup. On its own, coco bread also makes a wonderful addition to a bread basket. Any way you take it, homemade coco bread is definitely worth the work.

*If desired, you can also just fold them in half for larger coco breads.

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
Makes: 10 to 25 coco breads

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Ingredients

  • 625g (1 pound 6 ounces; 5 cups) low protein all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal Blue Label, plus more for dusting
  • 85g (3 ounces; 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 14g (.5 ounces; 4 teaspoons) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • 12g (.4 ounces; 1 rounded tablespoon) instant dry yeast, such as SAF; not RapidRise or active dry (more info here)
  • 56g (2 ounces; 4 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter, plus more for brushing and greasing
  • 355g (12.5 ounces; 1 1/2 cups) whole milk, warmed to about 100°F (38°C)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.

  2. Add melted butter to dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add warmed milk and stir until dry ingredients are fully incorporated and a slightly sticky dough begins to form.

  3. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, dusting lightly with additional flour as needed to prevent sticking, until a soft, elastic dough forms, 5 to 10 minutes.

  4. Wash, dry, and then grease the mixing bowl. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic, and let proof at warm room temperature until puffy, light, and roughly doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. In a chilly kitchen, the dough will need more time to rise, and in a warmer kitchen, it will move faster.

  5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. To make small coco breads, divide dough into 45g (1 1/2-ounce) portions; to make larger ones, divide into 115g (4-ounce) portions. This recipe yields either 25 small or 10 large portions.

  6. Working with one portion of dough a a time, gently roll each portion into a ball, then, using a rolling pin and dusting very lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking, roll out into 1/8-inch-thick (3mm) rounds. Brush top side of round with melted butter, then fold in half to form a half-moon shape. Brush top surface of half-moon with additional melted butter, then fold once more to form a quarter-circle. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough portions; leave about 1 1/2 inches of space between each portion of dough on the baking sheet.

  7. Working with one baking sheet at a time, bake coco breads until puffed and lightly golden on top, about 15 minutes for smaller coco breads and 20 minutes for larger ones. Repeat with remaining baking sheet of coco breads. Brush baked coco breads with additional melted butter, if desired. Serve.

Special equipment

Digital scale, rimmed baking sheets (see note)

Notes

While more efficient with two baking sheets, this recipe can be made with just one: Simply portion, roll, and form half the dough into coco breads and bake; cover unused dough to prevent drying out. Transfer baked coco breads to a wire rack to cool slightly, and allow baking sheet to cool before arranging next batch of coco breads on it. You can reuse the same piece of parchment paper for the second batch.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The coco breads are best eaten fresh, but can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 hours before serving; rewarm before serving.