This summer, while my parents were visiting from America, I found myself opening Bills Sydney Food (Bill Granger's first and best cookbook) again and again.
For all overseas visitors to our house, it is required eating.
There are several reasons for this:
1. That book epitomizes every-day Australian cooking at its best - fresh, flavourful, not overly teased or done-up.
2. A pan-toasted sandwich with tomato and fontina, or a bowl of banana maple porridge with buttered stone fruit, is the best kind of short-hand for "Welcome To Australia."
3. When it comes to breakfast, Bill is king.
Last night, I whipped up a loaf of his Coconut Bread.
It is famously marked "never to be replaced" on the menu at bills (the restaurant), so you know it's good.
Serve it in thick toasted slices, with a dusting of icing/confectioner's sugar, butter, lime marmalade - this is key - and a pot of strong coffee.
p.s. I will be taking Bill's advice and stashing a few slices in the freezer, for chilly mornings when I'd rather be in the Caribbean.
Coconut Bread from Bill's Sydney Food
makes 8-10 slices
300 ml (10 fl oz) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2.5 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
150 g (5 oz) shredded coconut
75 g (2.5 oz) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together.
Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add sugar and coconut, and stir to combine. (Note: I always use self-raising flour and skip the addition of baking powder and it works just as well, if not better.) Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture is just smooth, being careful not to over-mix.
Pour into a greased and floured 21 x 10 cm (8.5 x 4 inch) loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, and remove to cool further on a wire rack.