A cooking exhibit highlighting traditional Tahitian Coconut Bread has been demonstrated in the Tahiti Village at the Polynesian Cultural Center for decades. The ingredients and presentation are simple, the taste is simply amazing.
We’ve shared the recipe with our guests, but we wanted to give our readers a bit more. We reached out Regina (Gina) Mo’o Pasi, a Polynesian Cultural Center employee since 1968, who has worked as a dancer in our evening show, and a cultural specialist and a demo guide from in our night show to the Tahitian Village. Many mornings she would come in early and prepare the sample loaves for the day.
Gina is from the island of Hikueru which is situated in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Tahiti, which is just one of the island chains in this former French colony). She fondly remembers her grandmother preparing coconut bread, which she would deep fry, or sometimes make into dumplings an how hard it was “not to eat” those amazing treats filled delicious and the magical “touch of love” from her grandmother.
Recently Gina came by to personally demonstrate how to make the perfect Tahitian Coconut Bread. I am so pleased to be able to pass it on to you!
DISCLAIMER: This Tahitian coconut bread recipe utilizes measurements for a smaller quantity.
Click to see a video of this recipe
3 tablespoons baking powder
3 cups sugar
1 ½ cup water
4 ½ cups flour
2 cups fresh coconut, grated and toasted in the oven at 175o (if not available, we suggest unsweetened coconut from the store. If you use sweetened shredded coconut, we suggest that you reduce the sugar to 2 ½ cups).
- Preheat oven to 350o degrees.
- In a large bowl mix flour, sugar and baking powder and stir until completely mixed.
- Fold in the coconut and mix carefully. Use as much or as little as you like to suit your taste.
- Add water.
- Mix all ingredients to a doughy texture, adding flour as needed so that the dough is not too sticky (hint: use some coconut oil on your hands to prevent them from getting sticky). Now knead the dough until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with your hands periodically to incorporate all the flour.
- Divide the dough into 10 pieces of equal size – roll each piece into a log and wrap in aluminum foil squares, folding and pinching the edges on each end.
- Place the logs directly on the racks in a diagonal direction.
- Bake in the oven for 1 – 1 1/5 hours depending on your oven. You are looking to make sure that the bread is not doughy.
TRADITIONAL WRAPPING METHOD:
Using coconut fronds instead of aluminum foil for a more authentic version.
Go traditional by wrapping your dough in coconut fronds by following these steps:
- Select 10 fronds approximately 2-3 inches wide and just under 2 feet long. Make sure that they are green and pliable.
- Wash thoroughly and dry.
NOTE: Roll bread dough into shorter logs, approximately 8 inches long.
- Place one coconut bread dough log in a frond, making sure that it lines up exactly at the bottom (wider end) of the coconut frond. Take another frond and place it next to the other, slightly overlapping so that the dough is now cradled in both fronds.
- Fold one of the fronds over and up the dough towards the opposite end so that it now completely covers the dough. It should exceed the length of the dough by several inches.
- Fold the end diagonally across the end of the dough and begin to wrap it backwards around the dough, heading back towards the beginning. Leave about 2 inches unwrapped.
- Take the other frond (which is already placed in position against the first frond) and fold it diagonally across the bottom edge of the dough log. Wrap it slowly towards the middle so that it will meet the other wrapped frond.
- Tie off in the middle. It should basically now cover the entire log of dough.
Bio of Nina S. Jones, Blogger for the Polynesian Cultural Center
Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 45+ years, she has been thrilled to live in the beautiful village of Laʻie for the padt 9 years. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.
I’m trying to make the bread. It won’t hold together. What am I doing wrong? Help!!
Thanks for writing! It sounds like its not got enough substance to stick together. Try cutting down on the coconut a little (which will make it less crumbly) and adding water 1 tablespoon at a time.
I have made this bread in the Tahiti village for years. The key is to mix together all the dry ingredients flour, sugar, and baking powder really well by hand. Then, fold in your shredded coconut, you can add as much as you want. Finally, slowly add the water and continuously FOLD it into the Mixture. (*Do not kneed the mixture or it will get too dense and hard just keep folding it.) You will want to keep folding it and adding water until the mixture barely starts to get sticky. You will have a good consistency when the dough is soft like bread dough and just barely starting to stick to your hand. If you happen to add too much water just add a little more flour to regain that consistency.
Break off chunks little larger than your fist. Spread some flower on the table and roll them into hotdog shapes, then you can individually roll it up into the aluminum tinfoil squares , pinch the ends and bake for one hour. Enjoy!
Thank you for your expert input! This will be very helpful to us all.
I am so excited to see Polynesian recipes! I have a hard finding them especially in central New York.
Thank you for your comment. We love sharing the and will be coming out with some new ones soon! Also, we are developing a system where you will be able to sign up for notifications every time we post a recipe. Keep an eye out, hope to have that in place within 2 months!
Wonderful! Can’t wait!
My family and I visited the Polynesian Cultural Center this past summer and we enjoyed this coconut bread so much I wanted to make it. So thankful to have found this and I LOVED Kelii’s suggestion on how to mix the ingredients. Best tip ever. I added a little more of the sweetened flakes above the 2 cups and it is just as tasty. Thank you ALL!
So happy to hear that you enjoy the recipe. It’s easy, right? I am also a big fan!
Nina, The baking time in this recipe is listed as 1 to 1 1/5 hours. So are you saying bake for 60 to 72 minutes? That seems like a long time. What is the usual baking time?
This is a very dense bread. Make sure to give it at least 1 hour.