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Chinese Coconut Buns

Chinese Coconut Buns


Soft, coconut-filled cocktail buns with a crunchy sesame-seed topping.MORE+LESS-

3

tablespoons lukewarm water

2 1/4

teaspoons active dry yeast

6

tablespoons unsalted melted butter

3 1/2

cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1

cup coconut flakes (for the filling)

3

tablespoons unsalted melted butter (for the filling)

5

tablespoons honey (for the filling)

1

egg wash tbsp water + 1 egg whisked together

Sesame seeds for sprinkling

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  • 1

    In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 tbsp of the sugar and water and whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let sit 5 minutes until mixture is foamy.

  • 2

    Meanwhile, melt 6 tbsp butter in a small saucepan, add milk and heat until lukewarm. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.

  • 3

    Add in yeast mixture, remaining sugar, 2 cups flour and salt. Mix with the paddle attachment until just combined.

  • 4

    Gradually add in remaining flour until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Knead dough by hand or in stand mixer with dough hook attachment about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.

  • 5

    Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  • 6

    Meanwhile, make coconut filling: In a medium bowl, combine coconut flakes, 3 tbsp melted butter, honey and egg.

  • 7

    Divide risen dough into 10 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a 5 x 3-inch rectangle. Place about 1 1/2 tbsp filling in the center of each piece, fold in long sides and roll up from the short end, pinching the seam closed with your fingertips. Place buns seam-side down on a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet about a 1/2-inch apart (to get that pull-apart effect). Let buns rest about 20 minutes.

  • 8

    Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.

  • 9

    Once buns have rested, brush the tops with a light coating of egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

No nutrition information available for this recipe

More About This Recipe

  • Today is the start of Chinese New Year. To be honest, I don’t know much about this holiday, but I do know two things about it now (thanks to Wikipedia) that I’m a big fan of.The first is the tradition of cleaning one’s house from floor to ceiling to rid the home of ill fortune. I’m quite the clean freak, so I’m all for this one.The second tradition I like most is making yummy food, like these delicious Chinese Coconut Buns, or cocktail buns, as they’re called in some circles.Okay, making cocktail buns isn’t necessarily a tradition for Chinese New Year, but if you plan on celebrating with food, this is a perfect way to do it. Despite how complicated they may seem to make, these soft, sweet, coconut-filled buns are really very easy to make – and all it takes is a couple of hours (most of which is spent lounging around waiting for the dough to rise).Placing filling in bread can be a daunting process, but over time I’ve learned that even if the outcome isn’t perfect (i.e. half the filling spills out onto the baking sheet in an unavoidable gooey mess), the result will still be delicious. Plus, many recipes call for extra filling anyway to account for the losses.So don’t be afraid to make this recipe just because there’s coconut filling inside the bun. Trust me – it’s worth the effort. With a light, buttery pillow of bread surrounding a creamy coconut center, all topped off with crunchy sesame seeds, these buns are a tasty way to ring in the New Year – er, Chinese New Year, that is.

  • Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough:
  • 375 g bread flour
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 35 g milk powder
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150 ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
  • 40 g butter, cubed
  • Water-Roux Paste:
  • 25 g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • Water-Roux is basically 1 part bread flour to 5 parts water.
  • Bun Filling:
  • 100 g softened butter
  • 45 g plain flour, sifted
  • 50 g milk powder, sifted
  • 45 g caster sugar, sifted
  • 20 g desiccated coconut
  • Mexican Topping:
  • 30 g softened butter
  • 10 g caster sugar, sifted
  • 20 g plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
  • White sesame seeds

Step 1

To prepare the Bun Filling: Mix everything together. Divide into 8 equal portions.

To prepare the Mexican Topping: Cream softened butter and sugar until pale. Fold in flour. Transfer into a small freezer/snack bag with a tiny cut at one corner for piping (or use a piping bag fixed with a 1/2cm or smaller round nozzle).

Preoare tge Water-Roux:
Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling film over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook as before until it starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.) This water roux can be kept in an airtight container after cooling in the refrigerator for 1 day if not used immediately. However DO NOT USE if it turns grey in colour, that means it has gone bad.
Prepare the Sweet Bun Dough.

For the Bun Dough:
Sift bread flour, plain flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well.

Add lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in.

Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough.

Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)

Knead in butter until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading. I usually stop kneading when the dough sticks to the work surface and stretches like chewing gum when pulled!)

Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.

Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 8 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into
2 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Form each into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.

Take one of the 8 small divided balls and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle. Place one portion of the Bun Filling in the centre of dough circle.

Gather the outer edges of the dough circle and wrap up the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. Roll the sealed dough with your palm on the work surface lightly up and down to shape the dough into a cylindrical shape. Repeat with the other 7 dough balls.

Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size on a lightly greased tray. When ready, brush with eggwash. Then sprinkle a little sesame seeds onto the buns and pipe 2 lines of the Mexican Topping on top of each bun.

Bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Inside Out Coconut Buns: Recipe Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add ingredients in the following order: heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt.

Turn the mixer on to the lowest setting to bring the dough together. Knead on low speed for 15 minutes. If needed, turn off the mixer to bring the dough together with a rubber spatula.

The dough should not stick to the sides of the mixer, but it may look a little bit sticky (sticking to the bottom of the mixer is ok).

If you’re in a humid climate, and the dough is sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together.

Alternatively, you can stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl, and then knead by hand for 20 minutes.

After 15 minutes of kneading, scrape the dough from the dough hook. Cover the bowl with an overturned plate or damp towel, and place in a warm spot to proof for 75-90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.

(A good proofing environment is a closed microwave, with a mug of hot boiled water next to the bowl.)

After the first proof, put the dough back in the mixer, and stir for another 5 minutes to punch the air out of it.

While that’s happening, mix the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, milk powder, sugar, salt, melted butter, egg yolks, and milk.

The texture of the filling should be moist enough to hold together, but shouldn’t be overly wet/paste-like.

After the mixer has punched the air out of the dough (you can also do this by hand), dump it onto a lightly floured surface.

Shape it into a ball, and cut it in half. Cut each half of dough into 6 pieces, so you get 12 total pieces of dough.

To shape the buns, knead and roll piece of dough into an even ball, and flatten.

Roll the piece of dough out into a long rectangle, about 5吆 inches.

Spread a layer of filling onto the rectangle, pressing the filling into the dough and leaving about a half inch of margin all around.

Roll the dough lengthwise into a cigar.

Cut the cigar in half lengthwise, leaving it attached at the top end, so it kind of looks like a long pair of pants.

Twist the two pieces together…

And then roll into a snail shape, tucking the ends underneath the bun. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

You’ll need two baking sheets, six buns per baking sheet.

Cover with a damp towel, and proof the buns for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Brush the risen buns with beaten egg.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven, and while the buns are still warm, brush with sugar solution.

Enjoy your Inside Out Hong Kong Coconut Buns warm, with a nice cup of Hong Kong Milk Tea, Yuanyang Tea, or coffee!

These buns are best enjoyed fresh and warm out of the oven. However, you can continue to enjoy them for 4-5 days.

Store these buns in an airtight container on the counter for 1-2 days, and then store in the refrigerator. Microwave for 30 seconds to soften/warm them up before enjoying.

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For the dough, start with a tangzhong, which is simply a cooked paste of flour and water.

Tangzhong helps to keep the dough nice and soft for a few days (without the addition of dough conditioners or additives).

Next, the tangzhong is mixed into the rest of the dough ingredients and left to rise.

Once the dough has risen and shaped, it’s baked.

After baking, brush sugar glaze onto the buns and dip them in coconut flakes.

Cut the tops of the buns (and remove some of the bread if you wish) and fill with coconut cream.


HOW TO MAKE COCONUT COCKTAIL BUNS

There are 4 components to the cocktail buns:

FIRST, MAKE THE COCONUT FILLING

My coconut cocktail buns have the perfect ratio of filling to bun. I find that many recipes have a stingy amount of filling. You won’t have that problem with my recipe. Every bite will have the perfect amount of coconut goodness.

I personally use the thin dried coconut flakes, but you can use the larger flakes. It won’t matter too much since we’ll blitz them slightly in a coffee grinder.

Note: If you use sweetened coconut flakes, be sure to decrease the amount of sugar by a bit.

Once the coconut flakes are ground up (not too finely), add that to a bowl, along with the beaten egg, sugar, butter, coconut and vanilla extract.

For a matcha version: Add matcha powder to the coconut flakes, egg, sugar, butter, coconut and vanilla extract.

Give the mixture a stir to combine, and then cover with a lid.

Place into the fridge to firm up, about 20-30 minutes.

Divide the filling into 12 equal portions.

MAKE THE BUN DOUGH

Make the tangzhong first by combining bread flour and water in a small saucepan. (If you don’t have bread flour, all-purpose will work).

Bring a low simmer and constantly whisk until the mixture becomes gluey and paste-like.

Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, combine the warm coconut milk with the active dry yeast and let it foam up and become bubbly.

In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the flour, sugar, salt, egg, oil, tangzhong and the yeast mixture and knead until the dough becomes shiny and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it double in size.

MAKE THE BUTTER TOPPING

For the topping, combine the butter, cake flour, and powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Transfer the mixture into a small piping bag, fitted with a round tip.

Place it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes if the butter mixture oozes a bit and is too warm.

Note: If you don’t have salted butter, you can use unsalted butter, just add a little pinch of salt.

ASSEMBLE THE BUNS

Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 12 equal portions.

Roll the dough out into a long oval about 6″ in length and 2″ wide.

Place a portion of coconut filling along the centre of the dough, leaving a small border on each side.

Pinch the long edge seam together and tuck in the ends.

Place the buns seam-side down on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Repeat with the remainder.

Cover the buns with a slightly damp cloth and let them rise in a warm location, until slightly puffy.

BAKE THE BUNS

Once the buns have risen, make an egg wash by beating 1 egg in a small bowl.

Lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Squeeze two “lines” of butter topping (about 1″ from both the top and bottom edges) on the buns.

Bake the buns at 350F for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden in colour.

MAKE THE SUGAR GLAZE

Combine 1 Tbsp of water with 1 Tbsp of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove the buns from the oven and use a clean pastry brush to brush the top of each bun with the sugar glaze.

Turn off the oven and pop the buns back into the oven for 1-2 minutes to set the sugar glaze.

Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack to cool.


Reader Interactions

Comments

Hi Suzanne, I’m so thrilled to have you here and thank you for your encouraging feedback! I’m glad these recipes could be part of your meals at home. I haven’t tried these coconut buns with freshly grated coconut so I can’t say from experience. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it as it has moisture so the insides of your buns might get a bit soggy, in combination with the steam released by the butter. Plus there’s no way of telling how the moisture will interact with the milk powder and corm starch when heated during baking – it could drastically alter the intended texture of the filling. Hope this helps!

ive been a silent reader & a new homecook and seriously LOVING the few dishes (namely, claypot chicken, mushroom chicken, oyster sauce chicken) that i’ve tried from your wonderful easy to read & follow blog, not forgetting the word “tasty”!
im wanting to make these coconut filled bread, may i know if i were to use freshly grated coconut, what are the ingredients that i can omit or add versus using dried desicated coconut?
Please advise, thanks!

Hi Doris, thanks for letting me know! No worries, here are the recipe suggestions for the fillings. For red bean paste, this is my favourite recipe. It makes quite a lot, so you can freeze the extra and use for steamed bao or for Chinese fried red bean paste pancakes. Red bean filling: 250 g red beans 2 pandan leaves, knotted 4 cups water 140 g oil 300 g sugar. Wash red beans and pandan leaves and put in a pressure cooker with water. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes until beans are soft but not mushy (or for 50 – 75 mins, if using a normal pot over low heat if you don’t use a pressure cooker). Blend the beans until you get a fine paste. Heat up oil in a wok, pour in the bean paste and sugar. Cook, stirring continuously, until the bean paste is quite dry and sticky. Cool completely and chill overnight before using to fill buns. Tip: I think the sweetness is just right, but if you want to reduce the sugar and oil, don’t reduce too much otherwise the bean filling won’t be so smooth and won’t have that glossy shine. For yam filling: 300 g yam cubes, steamed until soft 200 g sugar 60 g butter. Mash the cooked yam with sugar while still hot until well blended. Cook the mashed yam with butter in a wok until it thickens, and does not stick to the wok. Cool completely before using.

Hi Celia. I didnt receive yr reply.
By the way I made the coconut buns for the 4th time?. Yr recipe is heavenly delicious and thanks to your guidance, bread making isnt so scary anymore.

Hi Doris, not sure if you received my reply because my site crashed for a while and I had to revert to an earlier backup copy. But just in case it didn’t get delivered, let me know and I will get the red bean and yam filling recipe to you again. Let me know, ya?

Hi Celia, thank you so much for your coconut buns recipe. It is the best coconut bread and the coconut filling recipe you gave was Fantastic! and the flavor was out of this world. May I check if you have a yam filling or red bean filling ingredient, please? Thank you once again for your kindness. You are a gem.

Hi Cynthia! Thank you so much. So glad you’re pleased with how these turned out. Feel free to leave a review and star rating, that would be awesome! Have a great week ahead.

Hi Doris, I know you’ll love these buns! Use regular white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Have fun and happy baking!

Hi Celia. Its about coconut for me this month. Can you kindly advise what type of vinegar (7 g vinegar)? The chinese white vinegar or the western vinegar (white or black). Thank you so much.

Thank you for the very detailed instructions and a great recipe! Everyone raved about it.

Hi Kerry, thank you for sharing! You’re right, it’s the moisture pushing against the dough as the filling gets heated, unlike steamed buns which doesn’t quite get to an oven’s high temperature. May I suggest wrapping the dough with frozen or semi-frozen char siu filling. I’m not sure if this would work as intended, but I hope it helps!

Hi Celia, I made this bun but using char siew filling. When I broke one apart to eat, there was a big gap between the bun and the filling. I think it’s due to gases causing the dough to rise up away from the filling. Is there a way to prevent it? Thanks!

Hi Aaswinntha, I haven’t used all plain flour before. You could do so, but I would expect the texture to be a bit different.

Hi Celia,
Can I substitute all purpose flour for bread flour ?

Hi,
Love to make this bread, just have one question.
What is bread improver and where can I get them?
Thanks a bunch.

Hi Fay, sorry for missing your email! Thank you so much for sharing and for trying out these buns. I’m so glad they turned out to your liking! It usually comes down to what is the desired texture and flavour. Normally, the first rise is enough for soft buns, but some bread loaf recipes may need 2 rises. Punching down gently after the first rise helps distribute the yeast around the dough to where there is more sugar. The second rise then allows the yeast to use up whatever sugar that’s available, and the rise is usually less dramatic. But it may be desired if you want a fluffier and hardier texture, as in sandwich bread, because we need the extra lift to help loaves reach a certain height in the pan, or to reach a beautiful rounded top for example. Also, the flavour will be slightly different with 2 rises, compared to just one. Hope this helps!

Hi Celia,
Made this yesterday, delicious thank you. Was at first unsure bcoz of the only one rise. I’ve only just started baking and even more recent baking yeasted bread and this is the first recipe ive tried with only one rise. So glad they turned out great and soft despite the 1st 3 shaped rolls might be slightly overproofed they tasted a little bit yeasty. (London was hot yesterday hence I baked as soon as last shaped rolls doubled in size). I’m curious with the only one rise. Would you be able to explain why some Soft rolls Recipes have 2 rises and others only 1 despite all used instant yeast? I tried googling but couldn’t find an answer I could understand. Thank you for this recipe again.

Hi Josephine, thank you! And I’m sure you will succeed! You are a talented cook and baker and can work magic with your skilled hands! Thank you for your kind heart and for looking in on my Mom. She raves about your butter cookies! She enjoyed them so much! Take care, and stay safe!

Hi Celia, with Janie so successful making your coconut buns. I have an urge to make it some time today. I have a digital weighing scale and I think I ve to use that for your liquid measurement . I hope I can succeed and can share some with your mum. If I am succeeding . Than I can ask victor to bring to Aunty. Have a wanderful week yourself . God bless.

Hi Janie, thank you so much for writing in! I’m thrilled you found me too! I truly appreciate the compliments and am glad that you find the content helpful and informative. So happy to hear the butter coconut buns turned out well, it’s my Mom’s favourite Chinese bun. Josephine is such a talented cook and baker herself, and I’ve so much to learn from her. I hope we’ll have the opportunity to meet up the next time I visit family in Canada. I hope you and your family stay healthy, and stay safe! Have a wonderful week ahead, Janie!

Hi Celia, one of our mutual friends, Josephine from Edmonton recommended me to your blog, and I am so glad she did. I love how you lay out your ingredients, the step by step instructions, and the clarification on what certain ingredient does and what effect it has on the breads, cakes, etc. I also appreciate the details and options you provided in your recipes. I tried this coconut bun recipe today, and I must say I am impressed with the result. The buns are soft, the filling is like store bought. Thank you so much for sharing.
Janie M. (Sherwood Park, Canada – PS: I have met your family here in Canada.)

Thanks Celia. I’m not sure why but I tried the recipe today and the dough was very sticky even after kneading for quite long and it didn’t detach from the bowl. Also I couldn’t get it to reach window pane :S I tried to let it rest a few minutes then continue kneading by hand but still couldn’t.

Hi Aretha, I use unsalted butter for almost all my baking as I can adjust the salt directly according to preference. Do add a pinch of salt for the butter coconut filling (though it’s not stated in the recipe) if you’re using unsalted. It will enhance the flavour a notch!

Do you uSe salted or unsalted butter for the filling ?

Can you please email the recipes in cups and teaspoons

Sorry, forgot to add, this dough bun is already a sweet bun dough but if you really want to add, not more than 20%.

Hi Jamie, I haven’t added more sugar to the dough before. But sugar feeds yeast so you may find that the dough will rise or proof in a shorter time than specified. If it overproofs, you may have more ‘holes’ in the texture but the softness will not be affected. So I think you’ll just need to watch the proofing.

Hi Celia
Can I add more sugar to make the bun sweeter? If so what is the max to add? Will it affect the texture of the bread?

Hi Anne, I hope I’m not too late. I don’t know what might have happened but yes, add just a little. It is a sticky dough so add enough, bit by bit,just for you to be able to work with it. Another way is to grease your hands with some oil. Do tell me how it worked out if you can.?

Hi Celia, I am in the midst of trying this recipe. I’ve found the dough incredibly sticky. I cannot shape it at all. Do you think I just need to add more flour (or a lot more flour…)? I followed the measurements exactly and no one else seems to have this problem so I don’t quite know what I did wrong

Hi Joanna, I didn’t need to grease the baking paper when I bake these buns as they usually come off the paper clean and easy.

Hello! Do you need to oil the baking paper?

Hi Umairah! That’s awesome to hear, congratulations! Glad you were happy with the texture of these buns. Yes, if the buns tasted just a little yeasty, it’s likely they were slightly overproofed. One sure way of knowing that your bread or bun dough is ready for baking, when you press your index finger gently on the side of the bread/bun near the base, it leaves an indent without springing back. But this will also be the case if it’s overproofed. You’ll learn to recognise when it’s proofed enough, it’ll feel pillowy.

I’ve tried it again. This is my 5th time trying to be honest haha and it turned out to be soft and fluffy! However, it taste kinda yeasty. Do you think I proofed it for too long. I live in Melbour e so weather is pretty unpredictable. Can the dough be overproofed? I left it out for a while after shaping as some times the weather is abit cold.

Hi Umairah, I’m afraid this recipe is not intended for making the dough in a breadmaker, recipes for breadmaker can be quite different. Try adding a little more flour, just enough until it doesn’t quite stick to your hand. Hope it works out, but not sure how the texture will turn out. Please do share, ya?

Hi Celia! Its me again. I tried ur recipe using breadmaker using the dough setting however the dough became very sticky and hard to make into shapes. Tried using abit of flour too but as you said use sparringly and it was still sticky. Is it normal? Or it probably doesn’t work with breadmaker?

Hi Umairah, yes you can use margarine in place of butter, just check if your margarine can be used for baking purposes, and not for spreading only. In my humble opinion, butter adds better flavour and it contains at least 80% fat, which would yield a moist and tender texture. But certainly, margarine will work out well too. Hope this helps!

Hi is it possible for me to swap butter for margarine? Will it make any difference in the bread texture?

Hello Gia! Thank you! Here in Asia, corn flour and corn starch are the same. So I would say, if you have corn starch, use that. Happy baking!

Hello! This recipe looks amazing! I wanted to ask you if corn flour is cornstarch in the U.S. or is it really cornflour which is finely ground cornmeal that we have here? Thank you!

Hi Jenny, thank you so much for writing in! I’m thrilled that your banana cupcakes were a hit with your friends, congratulations! I’m not sure what could have caused the cake to break up easily when baked in a cake pan, as I have done this without problems. Once you pour out the batter into the cake pan, try giving the cake pan a few taps on the counter, to remove trapped air bubbles. Also, you will need to adjust baking temperature slightly as cupcakes usually bake at higher temperature, with shorter time. For batter in round cake pan, try 170 deg C, for 30 to 35 minutes. Hope this works!

hi celia
i have tried your banana cup cakes with very good feedback from friends. recently i bought an 8 inch cake oan and use it to bake this recipe. the cake comes out beaitiful but when i cut the cake. the cake beaks into snall pieces.

Hello Tam Dang, thank you for your concern. I am fine, hope all is well with you too. I have been super busy these few months, I hope to get back to posting more recipes soon!

Hello! How are you? Longtime no hear from you? Hope all fine with you.

Hello there! I’d love to address you by your first name, but the comment shows SYB. So glad you found these buns delicious too! These buns are great when filled with sweet as well as savoury fillings too. Chocolate creme pat sounds so yummy, I’d love to hear how that tasted! Thank you for sharing!

Hi Celia, I made these buns today and they are delicious. Thank you for the precise recipe! I filled a few with leftover chocolate creme pat but will wait to try those tomorrow!

Hi Celia, I made these today and they are delicious. Thank you for the precise recipe!

Hello Adelene, thank you so much for sharing and your wonderful feedback!? I was so bowled over, and you really made my day that much happier! I’m honestly so thrilled that the recipes you’ve been having a go at, have all turned out so successfully for you. I think this shows how incredibly talented you are at this too.

I definitely agree with the banana spongecakes being a tad sweet, so I’ve adjusted the sugar in the recipe to 200 gm, sort of a middle point between 150 gm that you went with, and 250 gm. Thank you so much for the feedback, and definitely, streusel topping is like the icing on a cake! Brilliant of you to up the ooomph factor on these cupcakes! I can’t wait to try that myself!?

Hope you’ll keep your stories and feedback coming, I’d really love to hear ALL of it!! Take care and have a wonderful week ahead!

Hi Celia, thanks for your wonderful recipes! I halved this recipe and achieved soft and moist butter coconut buns like the title of your post suggests. The results for the buns were very similar to the tang zhong method which I use to make whole loaf breads. I also like that the butter coconut filling was not too sweet, and I added a pinch of salt to the filling for good measure – which worked out very well! I wanted to let you know that I have tried a number of your recipes and achieved great success with them, in particular, the banana sponge cupcakes [I only used 150g of sugar for that one, after reading reviews that 250g of sugar might be a tad too sweet. And I added a streusel topping, cos who doesn’t like streusel right? ? The results were amazing, my colleagues had nothing but praise for the sponge cakes!], pandan chiffon cake, char siew, black bean with pork rib soup. I hope that you can continue to share your awesome recipes, clear and detailed instructions and beautiful pictorial aids. ?

Hi Catherine, thank you for writing!? You can omit the milk powder, however the buns may be less flavourful.

Thank you for sharing the bread recipe. I prefer sandwich loaf and will,try to make one. However, I don’t have milk powder and winder if it can be omitted.

Hello Florence dear! Of course, I remember you..lots of great memories of my youth were the times we spent together on the BSRC courts! So glad you found me through my blog! Thank you for trying out the recipes I share here, hope you and your family enjoy! Please share whenever you have time on the recipes you cook and bake, ya, I’d love to hear from you! Take care of yourself too, and have a wonderful weekend!

Thanks Celia I’ll let you know if I try it

Hi dear Celia, I am Florence boon fm Brunei and good friend with Meng Fong. Hope U still remember me as we have been playing basketball at BSRC court in the early 20ths…love yr baking and cooking and will use yr receipe to bake the lovely buns this weekend. Take good care.

Hi Elaine, thank you for writing in ? I’ve never tried the tang zhong method, so I can’t speak from personal experience how these soft buns would compare. I’m hoping you could try this recipe and share with me ?. In a way that is similar to the aim of the tang zhong method, the custard powder contains modified starch which increases and enhances the ability of the dough to absorb and retain moisture, which helps it stay moist. The use of a good quality bread improver would help improve dough rise, enhance the texture of the bun and improve shelf life. My buns stayed soft and moist, when stored in an air-tight container, for up to 5 days to a week, in our humid weather in Singapore. I’m hoping you’ll find this direct method dough an easier and less laborious way to enjoy soft textured buns. Hope you’ll give it a go!

Hi ms Celia,
I’ve been making Asian style breads with tang Zhong, how does this recipe compare in terms of softness, moisture and shelf life? Ive not had luck with direct method for soft breads that stay moist, but I’ve never tried a recipe like this one that includes vinegar and custard powder. Thanks in advance

Hi Josephine, yes, it would be highly recommended?I’ve included a tip in the recipe instruction how you do this. And you’ll still need the remaining egg for the egg wash, so absolutely no waste!?

I wanted to try this recipee out
Do I ve to measure the eggs 38 gms?

Hi Gina, you can omit custard powder. Personally, in my own experience using soft bun dough recipes with, and without custard powder, I often find that the buns turn out more moist and tender with custard powder included.? You could try without, and see if you like how the buns turn out. Hope you can share!?

Hi Celia,
Like to check are we able to omit custard powder or replace it with something else?

Hi Ms Tam Dang, thank you so much for sharing your bake with me!? You did such a wonderful job with your buns, they look wonderful. I’m so happy you loved how it turned out! Enjoy!?

I’m so happy to share with you my bread just baked. The coconut filling not have nice color as same as your bread (i dont know why, maybe due to the quality of butter @@). However the bread so delicious, soft, moist and filling so tasty of butter, coconut. I do a little brush with whipped cream for shining.

Thank you so much for your reply. I will try it this afternoon and hope can share with you my successful bread.

Hi Ms Tam Dang, thank you so much for writing in!? Glad to have found another coconut lover in you! Vinegar, when added to a bread recipe in the right proportion, can help dough rise, and improves the overall texture of the bread, making it softer and more ‘springy’, generally speaking?. Too much vinegar can retard the function of yeast, so it is important to add the right amount.

Thanks so much fir the wonderful recipe, I love all recipes with coconut :). Could you please kindly help me a little knowledge in this recipe that what the purpose or function of vinegar in dough? Normally I only see the wet ingredients such as milk/water/whip cream/egg however this is he first time I see vinegar in bread dough.

Thank you so much and wish you all the best.
Regards,

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Recipe Summary

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter, and cut in using a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Add coconut, and mix just enough to blend. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.


Step 1.

Make the medium – grown dough first.Mix all the medium – grown dough ingredients together and knead to make a smooth dough.Place the dough in a stainless steel bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 17 hours.

Make the medium – grown dough first.Mix all the medium – grown dough ingredients together and knead to make a smooth dough.

Step 2.

Tear medium seeds into small pieces. Add in other ingredients except butter to form a ball. Add in butter and stir until smooth and thin.Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Tear medium seeds into small pieces. Add in other ingredients except butter to form a ball.

Step 3.

Make coconut filling: Pour all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.

Make coconut filling: Pour all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.

Step 4.

Divide the slack dough into 6 equal parts.Roll them round, cover with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Divide the slack dough into 6 equal parts.Roll them round, cover with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Step 5.

Take the rest of the dough out and roll it into an oval shape.

Take the rest of the dough out and roll it into an oval shape.

Step 6.

After turning, spread the coconut filling evenly in the middle and use a spoon to press down.

After turning, spread the coconut filling evenly in the middle and use a spoon to press down.

Step 7.

The left and right ends are folded in half toward the middle.

The left and right ends are folded in half toward the middle.

Step 8.

Then the upper and lower ends to the middle of the roll until meet, turn can.

Then the upper and lower ends to the middle of the roll until meet, turn can.

Step 9.

Arrange the dough in a baking pan.Place a bowl of hot water in the oven for final fermentation.Fermentation takes about 30 minutes.

Arrange the dough in a baking pan.Place a bowl of hot water in the oven for final fermentation.Fermentation takes about 30 minutes.

Step 10.

When the fermentation is over, cross the surface with a razor blade and brush the egg mixture.

When the fermentation is over, cross the surface with a razor blade and brush the egg mixture.

Step 11.

Put it into the preheated oven at 170℃. In the middle layer, put the heat on for about 17 minutes until it is colored.

Put it into the preheated oven at 170℃. In the middle layer, put the heat on for about 17 minutes until it is colored.


Steamed Buns (Baozi)

They may not be the prettiest buns you've ever seen, but don't let looks deceive you&mdashthese rank high on my list of all the steamed buns I've ever eaten. Making steamed buns that look like beauty queens might take some practice but it's really what's on the inside that matters here: The dough is soft but not too cakey, tender with a slight chew, with a barely sweetened taste that pairs well with, well, almost anything.

There are endless variations on the steamed bun across different cultures and regions: different dough recipes, different fillings, different cooking methods. Below, I've given three separate filling options, all of which can be made a day in advance: a meaty cabbage-pork combo, a flexible miso-carrot mix that can be vegan or pescatarian, and a sweet red bean paste version that can be served as dessert. Let these be mere suggestions: Once you have the dough made, you can play around with creating your own filling variations. Known as 包子 (baozi) in Chinese , the steamed bun literally translates to "a little package"&mdash at its core, it's a humble bread house that welcomes whatever your heart desires to stuff into it and can be eaten at any time of day, on any day of the year.

On yeast and flour

Once upon a time in the olden days, like most traditional bread recipes, Chinese steamed buns were made with sourdough preferments. To keep the flavor consistent and the process a little more convenient for our modern-day lifestyles, I've chosen to use commercial dry yeast in this version. You can use active dry or instant yeast interchangeably for this recipe.

Many Chinese steamed buns use a specific type of low-protein all-purpose flour that can be hard to find in many parts of the U.S. To approximate the texture that kind of flour achieves, we will be using two techniques. First, to keep the bun texture fluffy but not dry and powdery, take a minute to make a water roux with cornstarch. Similar to a tangzhong starter that's commonly used in milk bread recipes, this lightly-heated gelatinized mix will add a light bounce and desirable tackiness to your bun.

The second technique is to use boiling liquid in the dough to create a more tender steamed bun with just the right amount of chew. Heat a portion of milk to a simmer (microwave or stovetop are both fine) and stir it into the flour before adding in the remaining milk and bloomed yeast mixture&mdashthe hot milk will partially set and tame the gluten network in the dough to limit toughness.

Hand-mixed vs. stand-mixer dough

If working by hand, to avoid burning out your arms and worsening your carpal tunnel syndrome, bring the dough together and knead just until it forms a cohesive dough with no dry pockets. It might not be smooth right away&mdashthat's okay. Cover the bowl and return to it 30 minutes later, and you'll find that it has relaxed and become easier to knead. From here, work the dough by gently folding the edges into the center, similar to the stretch and fold technique used in our sourdough bread and whole wheat bread recipes. Return to the dough and repeat this quick fold two more times and your dough should be ready to go.

While I prefer to observe and feel the dough change underneath my hands during the kneading process (it's quite meditative and therapeutic!), you can also use a stand-mixer to get the job done. If you don't feel like returning to the dough periodically over 2 hours, let the mixer go until the dough is pretty smooth&mdashanywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on your mixer speed&mdashthen cover the bowl, step away, and let the dough rise until it's nearly doubled in size.

To pleat or not to pleat

For a classic savory steamed bun look, you're going to want to pleat these buns. Truth be told, it's a bit difficult to get the hang of it as a beginner! As with all things, practice makes perfect. The key is to roll out your portion dough so that the center of each round is thicker than the edges: Thinner edges are easier to fold and pinch. Use one hand to fold and hold the pleats in place while the other supports the bottom of the bun and continuously pushes the filling into the dough to ensure enclosure.

But there's absolutely no rule that states you have to pleat your steamed buns! If the idea of messily pleated buns give you the kind of anxiety I experienced while making these, you can forgo the pleat attempt and simply cinch the edges together, flip the bun upside down so that the seams are on the bottom. Give the bun a gentle tuck and roll on your work surface to seal completely.

How to steam your buns

You can use a metal steamer basket that fits inside a deep pot, or traditional bamboo steamers. To ensure a non-stick release, place your buns on top of 3" squares of parchment paper before setting them inside your steamer. They will double in size during proofing and cooking, so make sure there's at least 2" of space between each bun.

There are a few things to keep in mind to adjust the bun's texture to your liking. To develop a shiny, chewy skin on your bun, let the buns proof uncovered. This exposure to air will let the surface dough dry out and harden slightly, giving it that characteristic texture. For a fluffier bun, let the dough proof longer, about 1 hour. For a chewier, denser bun, shorten the proof time to about 30 minutes.

Gradual heating and cooling will yield a smoother surface on your buns and ensure a more evenly cooked bun. Start the steaming process with cold water: Fill your pot with about 2 cups of cold water, ensuring that the surface of the water has at least 2" clearance from the bottom of the steamer basket. Cover your steamer, then turn the heat on, and once the water is up to a boil, lower your heat to a medium-low. Steam for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat&mdashbut keep the lid on for 5 more minutes! Uncovering right away will shock the buns with cold air, which will make them shrink and wrinkle the skin.

These buns can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen in an airtight bag once cool for longer storage. To reheat, re-steam in a steamer basket, or in the microwave alongside a separate bowl of hot water (to simulate a steam environment).

If you've made these buns, please drop us a line down below, leave a rating, let us know how you liked 'em, and if you've made any other kinds of fillings!


Chinese Coconut Buns

The bread dough:
⅔ cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon milk (at room temperature)
1 large egg (at room temperature)
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup cake flour
3½ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1½ teaspoons salt

The filling:
6 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons caster sugar or superfine sugar
3 tablespoons cake flour
¼ cup dry milk powder
½ cup desiccated coconut

The toppings:
⅓ cup cake flour
3 tablespoons softened butter
4 ½ teaspoons caster sugar or superfine sugar
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

Start by making the bread dough, and be sure your ingredients are at room temperature. In the bowl of a mixer, add the heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt (in that order). Using the dough hook attachment, turn on the mixer at its lowest setting.
Let it go for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together. (Note: if you’re in a humid climate, and the dough is too sticky, add more flour ¼ cup at a time until the dough comes together). After 15 minutes, the dough is ready for proofing. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for 1 hour. The dough will grow to about 1.5X its original size.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling by thoroughly combining all the filling ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
After the bread dough has proofed for an hour, put the dough back in the mixer and knead slowly for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles. Dump the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces.
Flatten each piece of dough with your hands into a rough oval shape, about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. Spread about a tablespoon of filling onto the middle of the dough, and roll it into a cigar, tucking the ends under the bun to completely seal the filling in. We like this method because it evenly distributes the filling throughout the bun.
Transfer the buns to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise for another 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. For the topping, mix together ⅓ cup cake flour, 3 tablespoons softened butter, and 4 ½ teaspoons caster sugar, and transfer to a piping bag or small zip top bag with a small corner cut off. Set aside.
Once the buns have risen, brush with egg wash. Pipe two stripes of your topping mixture onto each bun, and sprinkle each with sesame seeds. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and brush with the sugar syrup.


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