Thursday, April 30, 2020

Sweet Pineapple Yeast Bread

Tender, sweet and slightly tangy from pineapple juice, these loaves are a real treat any time of day, and are even better with a tropical trail mix kneaded in.

Sweet Pineapple Yeast Bread

As the days begin to get warmer, I start craving the sun and relaxed atmosphere of the summer. This year it's even more of a craving, since the topical adventure N and I were slated to go on was postponed as a result of the big bad nasty COVID. While I'm disappointed (of course), I am also fully aware that safety and security are paramount - and when I can travel in my kitchen, it isn't too bad of a tradeoff (plus, I can bake in PJs!).

Funny enough, I never really got into eating pineapple (aside from the fruit trays at parties) until I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis on top of my digestion woes. One of my coworkers had a sibling with it as well, and being from the tropics she had started eating large quantities of the fruit for the bromelain it contains (which is supposed to help break down inflammation). Now, this enzyme is only active in the fresh fruit (which explains why you can't put fresh pineapple in Jell-O but canned works) but canned pineapple (and it's juice) are still full of nutrients, especially vitamin C. I'm all for staying as healthy as I can (working in a school is petri dish-esque) so it was a tasty way to get it daily!

That said, I am really not a "juice drinker", so when Dole sent me a large can of it, I knew it would become something culinary. I had seen multiple postings of Hawaiian bread floating around the web back in 2017 when I got their care package, and decided a hefty batch of that would fit the bill. The pineapple juice helps soften the "grittiness" of the whole wheat flour and adds almost a honey note to the dough, playing off the handful of tropical trail mix I added to one of the three loaves on a whim. Keeping with the Hawaiian theme, I also opted for coconut milk and oil for it's richness and flavour. That said, if I was to make this again, I would shy away from the coconut products simply because kneading and shaping bread with gloves on is horrendous (I'm allergic to coconut so must avoid contact).

In the end, these loaves made for perfect toast and when you leave them out overnight to get stale, the best French toast ever! I actually used one loaf to make a version of Disney's Tonga Toast as a special Sunday treat for mom, and think bread pudding would be an excellent foil for this as well.

Even when we're stuck at home, why not escape to the tropics for a while? Dole (who sent me the pineapple juice I used in these loaves back when I made them in 2017!!) claims #SunshineForAll in 2020, and I'm telling you, we have all earned it!

Sweet Pineapple Yeast Bread
Adapted from Erica's Recipes
Makes 3 loaves
3 ½ cups pineapple juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
⅓ cup coconut oil
¾ cup warm unsweetened canned coconut milk
2 tbsp instant yeast
5 ½ cups whole wheat bread flour
5 cups all purpose flour
½ cup potato flour (not potato starch)
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
optional: ½ cup tropical trail mix per loaf (chopped if large chunks)
  1. Heat the pineapple juice, sugar, salt, oil and coconut milk, stirring well, until oil melts and sugar and salt dissolve. Let cool to lukewarm.
  2. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, flours and flax.
  3. Add the juice mixture and knead 10 minutes on low speed, until the dough is elastic and barely tacky.
  4. Put the dough in a warm place and let rise 1 hour, until doubled.
  5. Deflate the dough and if desired knead in the trail mix. Divide dough into 3 potions.
  6. Shape each into a loaf and place in a well greased loaf pan.
  7. Cover and let the dough rise again for 1 hour, until the dough just crests the top of the pans.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes at 350F, until loaf tests 200F in the centre.

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