Sweet buns with a creamy coconut sauce perfect for any occasion, including Easter.
Coconut buns or Panipopo are one of the most delicious little treats to come out of Samoa. A sweet bun is baked with a sweet coconut cream sauce so that once cooked, the bottoms of the buns are soaked in this lovely creamy sauce. They are totally addictive and believe me when I say that one bun is not enough. So with Easter coming up in a few weeks and after seeing plenty of hot cross buns at my local supermarket, I’ve found a great excuse to make these delicious buns as my answer to your traditional hot cross buns.
To make the buns is simple and if you’ve never made yeast based buns before, there are a few tricks that I’ve learnt which will hopefully help you get a good result. The first one is that when you are measuring the flour, there is a difference if you pour the flour into your measuring cup to if you scoop the flour out of the bag into your cup. When you pour it into your cup you will get a more aerated amount and if you scoop it, it will be more dense and consequently contain more. The most accurate way is to weigh it but if you’re using cup measurements keep this in mind and add most of the flour into the bowl and see how you go before adding the balance if you need to. The dough should be fairly dry but still feel soft to knead. Avoid adding too much flour in the kneading stage as this can affect the texture of the buns into more of a ‘scone’ texture rather than a bread one.
The second tip about making coconut buns is to use only 2/3 of the coconut cream mix when baking the buns, reserving the balance for topping it up immediately after they are cooked and leaving it in the hot oven for an extra 5 minutes to heat up. This will ensure that the buns cook through and are not ‘soggy’ from too much liquid at the start. It also means you will have a good amount of cream at the end to dip into.
And lastly, working with yeast does require a bit of forward planning because you need to allow the buns to proof for at least an hour in the first stage and then another 30 minutes before baking, so my suggestion is if you need fresh buns the next morning, get it started on a warm afternoon up until they are shaped into buns in a pan, then refrigerate them for cooking the next day. Simply remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, add the cream and bake.
To make the ‘crosses’ for your Coconut Cross Buns, simply make a paste of 1/4 cup of flour with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and 1/4 cup of water, place in a small ziplock bag, snip the corner off and pipe the crosses onto the buns after the cream is added. Delicious and a great treat for Easter or anytime.
- 3-3 & 1/2 cups of bread flour (poured into measuring cup) sifted (about 400g)
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 sachet instant yeast (7g)
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil + extra
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 400mls of Kara coconut milk
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of plain flour
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Combine warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and allow to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
- Add egg and oil to mixture.
- Add 3 cups of flour & 1/4 cup of sugar to yeast mixture and carefully combine with a metal spoon until a dough forms. If mixture is fairly wet, add additional flour if required. The dough should be fairly dry and you can knead it together in the bowl to help it form into a dough ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until soft and elastic. (Try to avoid adding too much flour at the kneading stage as this can give the buns more of a scone texture rather than a 'bread' one.)
- Then place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, roll dough to coat in oil, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Once doubled, punch dough down and transfer to a board and knead for about 1-2 minutes. Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces, form into balls and place in a pan spaced evenly apart. Cover and leave to double in size (about 40minutes).
- Meanwhile make coconut sauce by mixing coconut milk, water and sugar well until sugar is dissolved.
- Once buns have doubled, pour 2/3 of the cream mixture evenly over the buns. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the sauce over the tops of the buns.
- To make the paste,for the crosses, mix flour, sugar and water well and place into a ziplock bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and pipe crosses over the buns.
- Bake in a preheated oven on 200 degrees Celcius for 25 minutes or until buns are golden and a skewer inserted into the middle bun returns clean. Pour over rest of the coconut cream and return to oven for 5 mins.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit (15 minutes). Best served warm.
- Plain flour can be substituted for bread flour however I find that bread flour gives the best texture for these buns.