banana, strawberry and coconut bread


Those who are regular readers of the Mess would be quite familiar with my occasional (okay, regular) complaints surrounding my lack of a digital SLR camera, tripod, light-box and everything else that’s required to take quality photographs at night. It might therefore come as a surprise to see a low light photograph as the header for this recipe post.


Let me explain. It’s 11.30pm, Friday night. I’m sitting in my living room, watching a candle flicker on the coffee table after catching up with my beautiful friend Elissa (from Ethical is Easy) over a bottle of Taylors white, homemade tapas and salted caramel ice-cream. I’m feeling relaxed, energised in the best way possible. I start putting some leftovers away and all of a sudden, my eyes rest upon the image of a few over-ripe bananas that have been sitting, neglected, in the far corner of my fridge for the past six days. Yes. Let’s bake.


You can probably imagine the rest. Out comes my mixing bowl, some leftover ripe strawberries, dry goods and coconut oil. I pull out our trusty camera and some spare batteries to experiment with candlelight photography, sans any of the equipment stated above. Over the next two hours, my ingredients gently fused with the speckled bananas to create a fragrant, brown-sugar-and-coconut-encrusted vision of baked happiness, whilst pictures were snapped, erased, then snapped again.


Whilst the bread was baking, I sipped on a glass of leftover wine, cleaning the kitchen to the ethereal soundtrack of Emma Louise. The gentle, soaring sounds of her debut album, vs. Head vs. Heart, sweep you into an intricate, thoughtful narrative that is a perfect accompaniment to the inky blackness of the night sky. Now, whilst this is not in any way a full music review, I’d definitely recommend Emma Louise if you like London Grammar or any other band that combines gentle, thoughtful and honest acoustic guitar with elements of electronic syncopation. Check out more polished reviews of the album here and here.


Now, back to the baking: this fruity loaf is based on my favourite banana bread recipe, stolen from my mother’s copy of Marks & SpencerGood Home Baking’ by Mary Cadogan (1983). I featured a loose variation of the recipe in one of my very first blog posts, Banana Bread: Two Ways as ‘Recipe 1’. Today’s version swaps raisins and walnuts for fresh strawberries, coconut oil and dessicated coconut. It’s topped with a crunchy, toasted coconut and brown sugar crust which, when cut, unearths a beautifully moist, fragrant interior studded with chunks of intense strawberry.


This recipe is simple, delicious, and achievable for anyone with a mixing bowl, an oven and a loaf tin (actually, you could even bake it in a round tin if required!). It’s adaptable, even if you’re missing a few ingredients, and forgives many common errors that haunt novice cooks (eg. when to combine wet and dry ingredients, how much to beat an egg, whether to sift the flour etc). As this loaf was consumed in the daytime, there are also some natural daylight shots of the finished bread below… thank goodness! It’s so difficult to make brown look attractive by candlelight.


Banana, Strawberry and Coconut Bread

Makes 1 x 1kg loaf

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp organic, virgin coconut oil
  • 175g soft dark brown sugar
  • 200g washed and quartered ripe strawberries
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut + 1 tbsp (for crust)
  • 3 large or 4 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp natural yoghurt (optional, replace with 1 extra tbsp milk if preferred)
  • 2 tbsp milk (dairy, almond, soy etc)
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar (for crust)

Grease the bottom of a 1kg (minimum) loaf tin with butter, then line with greaseproof paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (325 degrees f).

Place the flour and salt into a bowl. Add in the butter, cut into small pieces, then rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sifted brown sugar, dessicated coconut and strawberries.


Add the vanilla, milk and yoghurt to the mashed bananas with the beaten egg. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, then mix until well combined. Turn your mixture into your lined pan then smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and your 1 tbsp extra coconut.

Place the tin into the preheated oven and bake for 90 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool in the tin on a wire rack. Serve sliced and buttered if desired, or (my favourite) toasted, spread with mascarpone cheese and topped with toasted almonds.


  • This loaf tastes amazing with the addition of 100g coarsely chopped white chocolate (reduce your strawberries to 150g). You can also substitute the strawberries for blueberries, raspberries or another berry of your choice.
  • Don’t like coconut? Just omit it, and add in 1/4 cup of rolled oats, nuts of your choice or flaxseeds.
  • If you don’t have any (or don’t like) coconut oil, just increase your butter to 100g.
  • To substitute plain flour with raising agents for self-raising flour, the general ratio per cup of flour is 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Sift together and use as required.

48 responses

    • Thanks so much Kari. Haha, I definitely agree… I love traditional banana bread (and chocolate versions, yum!) but it was a nice change from the norm. I also found that the fresh strawberries and coconut oil made the loaf beautifully moist :)

    • So true, yum… I love fruity cocktails :) Coconut oil is such a gorgeous ingredient, I’m just in the early stages of learning how to bake with it but it’s been fun so far! Have you got many coconut oil recipes on your blog? I don’t think I’ve mastered the art yet so any tips you can offer will be gladly welcomed! x

      • I suppose I have got quite a few coconut oil recipes because I always tend to use at least some. All my cakes contain coconut oil (works really well for chocolate cake, for example) and I also use it in soups, Indian food (curries), I usually cook pancakes in it… Coconut oil, olive oil and butter are really the only fats I ever use. Oh, and I also slather it over my face – makes an unbeatable moisturiser. Can you tell that I love coconut oil? ;-)

      • I definitely, definitely can my dear! With good reason too! :) I haven’t tried it in chocolate cake yet… mostly just fruit-based cakes and loaves. Will have to put that on my baking list. I tried frying some salmon in it last night as an experiment and I still can’t decide whether I liked the mild coconut flavour with oily fish. The high smoking point was fantastic though… great for crispy skin!

    • You are way too kind J! Thanks heaps… it’s a really, really easy recipe. By the way, I just took a look at your most recent soup updates (looks so delicious, I can’t wait for ‘soup weather’ to hit here in Aus!) and I’m dying to know what that Cheddar-type cheese is that you’ve got in the photos. Yum. I am such a sucker for strong, bitey, creamy cheeses!

      • Sounds delicious! I doubt that I’d be able to buy it over here though. Sad face. I’ll just have to make do with the vintage smoked Cheddar I have in my fridge (first world problems!)

  1. This is a MUST try for me … coconut oil will be a problem for me to find. This is what I want to indulge myself with every breakfast …. lunch and dinner.

    • Thanks lovely, yep it was one of the most relaxing nights I’ve had in a while :) The strawberries worked beautifully, especially in combination with the coconut and brown sugar. I love banana bread. It’s so easy to adapt and change according to your mood (and pantry!).

    • It’s a really, really easy recipe so I’m sure it’ll work well for you! I’d definitely recommend the addition of white chocolate chips if you like a bit of chocolate goodness :) Thanks for the feedback x

  2. Laura..It already sounds incredible to me that you are baking at 1130pm? Where did you get all that energy. I love this recipe. Adding strawberries is such a clever thinking to transform the usual into a unique loaf. Not forgetting the coconut oil which will just give that extra layer of flavor. I like your photos in low light. They calm my senses down after a rough day….. this is a lovely post. I like it so much.

    • Haha, I am a bit of a night-owl by nature Danny… but on this particular night, I think it was partly the sugar I’d just consumed! You’re definitely right… there is something beautifully calm about low light, candles and music. I was a little tired the next day but it was completely worth it :)

  3. Hi there, I just love 40 min north of Malmo with train, in Landskrona, made a post the other day about my town, – I didn’t get your last comment … Sweden is a very beautiful country.
    Only want to tell you that I found coconut oil … they sell it in Health shops. So that means that this cake will soon be made – maybe not before Easter, but … will come back to you with my experience.

    • Wow, your town is absolutely beautiful. I can’t believe it’s 600 years old! The entire COUNTRY of Australia is only 325 years old (in terms of European settlement being in 1788… the Indigenous people lived here way before that). I’d love to visit Landskrona one day. My husband and I might be traveling to Sweden later this year so I’ll let you know if we head near you! Glad that you found some coconut oil. The link for the site I mentioned is here. Sorry you didn’t get it before… it will likely be much cheaper than buying it at the Health Shop. Let me know if you have any difficulties xx

      • Thanks a million, I would love if you contacted if you’re coming to Sweden, doesn’t matter if you are not just nearby.
        You will love it … the world call us “Club Sweden” – because we are like an exclusive country club *laughing.

        The oil was not expensive .. bought a small jar – and it still has it coconut flavor. So looking forward to do your cake.

        It’s one of the longest flights you can do … is to Scandinavia from down under. 22 hours or something like that I did to New Zealand. Welcome! I will let you know how I got along with your cake.

      • Wow. That’s a pretty long flight. I’ve been on some long journeys before; probably the worst flight time was when I traveled from Australia to Los Angeles via New Zealand. When I last visited Malmo the flight path went via London to Copenhagen, then I drove with family over the border to Sweden. Thanks for your lovely suggestion re ‘Club Sweden’! I’ll have a look into how to get there and I’ll let you know! I would love to hear how you go with the cake… I find that each coconut oil I try is slightly different, so hopefully you’ve got one that will work well. Hugs x

      • No, you got that wrong, sorry if I confused you …. the world call Sweden – as a country … club Sweden. There is no club Sweden .. in Sweden.
        I’m sure the oil will be fine …
        Great with the bridge over to Denmark .. fantastic – the world just moved closer with Copenhagen Airport only 50 min away. Love it ..

      • Ah, sorry I knew you were joking with the ‘Club Sweden’ thing, I just thought you were referring to your home town rather than the entire country! I hadn’t heard of that phrase before but it makes sense. Haha :)

    • Thanks beautiful, I appreciate your feedback – it means a lot! And yes, I definitely agree – the three ingredients worked really well together, especially with the brown sugar. Just read your Costa Rica post… you’re such an honest, thoughtful writer. Was a privilege to read xx

  4. Who would have thought candlelight photos would be so good! They are very romantic. I love the flavor combo in this bread, it sounds perfect!

    • Thanks lovely. I was a bit surprised they turned out myself, I might try another night-time bake-off soon!! (whilst I continue to await the purchase of a DSLR, sigh!) x

    • Thanks Candy. Our strawberry season is almost over now, which is pretty sad! The weather is cooling down in the evenings and I’m gradually seeing more apples and pears on the supermarket shelves. I’ll have to console myself with frozen berries instead :) x

  5. I love banana bread and strawberries… what a great idea to combine the two! Enjoying your blog… your photos are gorgeous and I would never have known that you were not using a DSLR!

  6. Wow, this recipe sounds like something I’d just love. I’m a fan of pretty much all fruity quick breads, and this one sounds great! For my blog, my BF made a DIY light source (I’m not sure what he calls it.. a soft box?). It cost about $10 to make and I think it significantly improved the photography — I don’t remember offhand where he found how to make it, if you’re actually looking for something like that, send me an email and I’ll have him find the link.

    • Hello lovely Kelly. A light/soft box is a fantastic idea. I have read through a few tutorials on how to make them but if your bf has successfully constructed one from a particular website it’d be great to know the link! I get so frustrated with the limited daylight hours that I’m home each week. It’d be wonderful to be able to photograph recipes at night… I cook almost every day so I think I’d quadruple my post rate if I had a light box! Thanks so much for the comment x

  7. Pingback: Banana, Raspberry and Coconut Cake | La Petite Gourmande Anglaise

    • Your cake looks absolutely delicious, well done with the adaptation Fiona! I feel really flattered that you’d try my recipe… you’re a great cook in your own right and there are so many things that I’d love to try from your blog. Actually, pretty much everything (I have a love affair with French food). Thanks for linking back. Glad that the recipe was kind to you, yay! x

  8. Thanks for the comment left on my blog :D The crumb on this loaf/bread/cake looks absolutely to die for! I definitely have to try this recipe out – love the addition of coconut because who says there’s ever too much of coconut? ;)

    • Thanks Sherrie :) It’s definitely an easy, yummy recipe and the coconut topping adds an extra dimension of deliciousness! Love your blog by the way. I still haven’t worked out how to properly ‘follow’ blogspot blogs though, other than by subscription email. I’ll add you! x

    • Haha, aw… thanks Maya! It’s got a few meanings… ‘mess’ to me is supposed to be a positive term, both in reference to a ship’s galley (the ‘mess hall’) and the fact that I’m creating something beautiful out of a creative mess! I appreciate your feedback hugely… looking forward to reading more on your amazing blog! x

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  10. Pingback: sisterhood of the world bloggers award! | eat sweet. by carla sue

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