Food for the Fam: Anna Jones's Coconut Vanilla Loaf from 'A Modern Way to Eat' (Slightly Adapted)

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I exaggerate not that during the Easter school holidays I baked this cake four times – three of those times was within one week, two of those times was at either end of one day. Each time it lasted less than 24 hours.

It is an all-round winner and we have dubbed it ‘picnic cake’ because it travels well and everyone – EVERYONE, adult or child – likes it. Because of the way I’ve adapted it, it’s not too sweet – and you can de-gluten it I’m pretty sure, as it already has ground almonds in its base. If you’re a gluten-free eater, by all means play around with the flour element. I avoid gluten, but am not intolerant to spelt, as mentioned in my hack of Gwyneth Paltrow’s muffins.

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The way I have adapted this cake is to remove the 200g of sugar in the original recipe, because this is another ingredient I try to avoid. I’ve used honey instead – and less of it. It makes the cake moist and a little stodgy in totally the right way. It could be why, after a lovely puffed up top when it comes out the oven, it deflates and sinks a bit. I don’t think it’s bad for it – it’s dense and sticky – but you be the judge.

Also I should add, instead of scraping teeny black seeds from vanilla pods (can’t be bothered) I’ve invested instead in some vanilla bean paste. You use a teaspoon in place of a vanilla pod and I think that’s just great. It’s not cheap, but lord have you seen the price of vanilla pods?

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As Anna Jones, who is my new food crush, says in her recipe in ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘, this gets its delicious coconutty flavour from coconut milk (the drinking kind, not the tinned variety – and she favours Koko, as do I, as it’s long life); desiccated coconut (Waitrose have stopped selling this, but Landsdown Health in Lewes does it, and it’s from Infinity Foods, so you know where to go Brighton people); and coconut oil – which you of course have to melt to add it at the last minute. It’s totally glorious.

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Oh and dairy- and egg-free peeps (always thinking of my friend S breastfeeding her poor itchy baby), you can replace the two eggs with chia seeds. Google will tell you how and what to do with them ratio-wise. Landsdown/Inifinity for those as well.

I have to say that ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘ is my favourite ever cook book. We are almost entirely veggie now because of it – unintentionally so – because it’s just so good. The second book comes out this summer and I cannot wait!

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RECIPE

MAKES

1 good-sized loaf

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INGREDIENTS

2 organic or free-range eggs (or use chia seeds in place of)
200ml coconut milk or milk of your choice (the drinking, cartoned kind – such as Koko – rather than the tinned cooking variety)
seeds of 1 vanilla pod (or if you’re lazy like me, a teaspoon of vanilla paste
150g light spelt or coconut flour
200g light brown or coconut sugar (or if you want to do honey like me, 150g of a good quality one)
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g desiccated coconut
50g ground almonds
50g coconut oil or butter, melted and cooled

HOW-TO

1) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C/fan 160 degrees C/gas 5 and butter a 450g (22 x 8cm) loaf tin. Take a sheet of baking paper just as long as the tin and lay it along the base of the tin and over the sides – the ends of the tin will remain unlined but this is OK, you just want the paper there to help pull the bread out. [I am too lazy for this, I just scruffily line the whole tin with a piece of baking paper far too big for it and let it all stand up round the sides].

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2) Whisk together the eggs/chia seeds, milk and vanilla seeds in a jug. [I just do this in a bowl!].

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3) Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, desiccated coconut and ground almonds into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually stir in the egg mixture, then the melted coconut oil or butter, and mix until smooth. [I don’t bother with the well and gradual stirring, I just pour it in and stir it all together until it’s basically lump-free].

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4) Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes [I always need to do an additional 5 minutes to get it golden], until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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5) Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn on to a rack and leave to cool.

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The slightly sunken look the loaf takes a few a few minutes cooling time…

6) [Wrap in foil and transport to the beach. Don’t forget to take a knife!].

Disclosure: This recipe is the intellectual property of Anna Jones, author of ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘. It has been adapted in line with my experience of cooking the recipe and to take into account certain things I like to not eat! There are a couple of affiliate links in this post, placed after I wrote it. No compensation, financial the otherwise, was offered or exchanged for the writing of this post. I’m sharing it because it’s a healthy cake that always goes down well in my house. 

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

6 thoughts on “Food for the Fam: Anna Jones's Coconut Vanilla Loaf from 'A Modern Way to Eat' (Slightly Adapted)

  1. Hi
    i have made this twice now and the mixture is really dry. When baked, it just crumbled. Did you change any of the measurements? I don’t understand as i made it with the quantities the recipe said. It looked like your pic in step 3, but the pic in step 4 is much more liquidy. Any ideas why??
    Thanks!
    I adore this cookbook too 🙂

    1. Hi Kylie, the wet ingredients are egg, the milk (make sure you’re using drinking coconut milk rather than the cooking stuff in a tin) and coconut oil. The mixture gets really wet at the end from the coconut oil – it’s like a drinkable liquid once that’s added… I wonder if one of those might have been left out by accident? Let me know how you get on! Did you know she brought out another cookbook last week – I’m definitely getting it! Good luck. Kate x

  2. Hi Kate, I’m afraid like Kylie I have baked thisand I am really disappointed with the results! The mixture was incredibly dry, even after adding the coconut oil and the cake did not rise and fell apart once out of the tin. Looking at your comment from 19th July it looks like this could be because I didn’t use the coconut milk you can drink, but the stuff you cook with. Obviously my fault for not realising, but it might be worth amending your recipe slightly to prevent others from making the same mistake? I have so many cook books that I really shouldn’t buy another, but I follow Anna Jones on Instagram and do love her food, so night have to purchase! Hope you’re having an amazing holiday! Cara xxx

    1. Hi Cara, so sorry I only just saw this as I’m away on holiday and for some reason it wasn’t emailed to me as usual. I will make that amend within the ingredients, as although it says it’s the drinking kind in the intro to the recipe, I guess this is an easy part to skip if you just want to access the how-to. It reads as follows: As Anna Jones, who is my new food crush, says in her recipe in ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘, this gets its delicious coconutty flavour from coconut milk (the drinking kind, not the tinned variety – and she favours Koko, as do I, as it’s long life); desiccated coconut (Waitrose have stopped selling this, but Landsdown Health in Lewes does it, and it’s from Infinity Foods, so you know where to go Brighton people); and coconut oil – which you of course have to melt to add it at the last minute. It’s totally glorious.

      I’ll amend it now – and hope you manage to make the cake and have the gooey result rather than the dry one 😉 x

      1. Thanks for your reply, Kate! I’ve been away too and so missed this earlier, but I will definitely be having another go and remembering to use the drinking kind next time!! Hope that you had a lovely holiday xxxx

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