This bread truly represents what I'm all about as a baker, as its simplicity goes unnoticed due to the complexities of aroma and flavor.
Technique tip: Make sure you knead the dough until it has a smooth surface before letting it ferment!
For the levain:
In a tall jar or medium bowl, mix the starter, flour and water until incorporated. Cover and leave in a warm place (about 75 F) for 3 to 4 hours, or until doubled in size. You can use your levain immediately or refrigerate it up to 12 hours (or overnight) to use the next day.
For the dough:1.
In a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, combine the coconut milk and water and heat to lukewarm, around 105 F.2.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk/water with the levain (note that you won't be using all the levain you built). Add the remaining dough ingredients, squeezing everything together to make a rough, sticky dough.3.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and somewhat elastic. This is a stiff dough, so it's OK to rip it with the palm of your hand as you're kneading to help develop the structure.4.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover and let the dough rest (ferment) at room temperature for 4 to 5 hours; the dough will have risen and look puffy. Refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours.5.
Coat a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with coconut oil or butter. Set aside.6.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into six pieces. Shape the pieces into balls by patting them down, folding the corners into the middle, then flipping the dough over and moving your hand in a circular motion to create a little tension, which will yield a smooth surface.7.
Place the balls of dough into the prepared pan in two rows of three. They'll be quite snug in the pan, which is OK.8.
Cover the dough and let it rest (proof) until it rises even with the rim of the pan. This should take 4 to 6 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.9.
Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375 F.
For the toppings:
Brush the top of the loaf with the melted coconut oil or butter and lightly press on the shredded coconut.
To bake the bread:
Bake the bread until it's golden-brown on top and a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads 190 F, 45 to 55 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven. Tip it out of the pan as soon as you're comfortable doing so and transfer it to a rack to cool. Store the bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.