This August, it was my turn to choose a bread for the Bread Baking Babes to make. I picked Inside Out Coconut Buns. I had a couple of other breads in mind, but went with these instead for a couple of reasons. Of course they’re really good to eat and pretty to look at! They’re also quite easy to make.
Traditionally, Chinese or Hong Kong Cocktail Buns are soft milk buns with a moist and sweet shredded or desiccated coconut based filling. They’re sort of oval/ oblong shaped with dough stripes on them. These sweet buns are filled with a buttery, milky sweet coconut paste. They were supposedly created some time in the 1950s in Hong Kong. The owners of a local bakery were left with quite a few unsold but perfectly good buns. The enterprising owners apparently ground them up with sugar making a filling which was put into freshly baked buns the next day. With time, more creative bakers added more flavour by adding coconut, butter and milk to the filling.
These Inside Out Coconut Buns, adapted from here, are another version of them. They’re pretty much the same but shaped such that the filling shows on the outside in layers or stripes. These buns make for a great snack. There’s something addictive about the buttery coconut filling.
The coconut filling for these buns can be flavoured with cardamom or vanilla. My preference is for cardamom as coconut ad cardamom go so very well together. Though not done generally, you can choose to lightly colour your filling so that shows up beautifully in contrast. I used a pinch of turmeric powder to colour my coconut filling.
These Inside Out Coconut Buns can be shaped in different ways, all showing the filling in a very attractive manner. The easiest shapes to make are plain snail buns, much like for Cinnamon Rolls. Other popular shapes include twisted round buns, heart shaped buns and twists.
Inside Out Coconut Buns
For the Dough :
- 3/4 cup coconut milk or regular milk
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp powdered milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50 gm unsalted butter melted
- 1 large egg
For the Coconut Filling :
- 2/3 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/16 tsp turmeric powder optional
- 45 gm unsalted butter melted
- 1 tsp lime zest optional
- 1 tsp crushed cardamom or vanilla extract
- For Brushing :
- Egg Wash or milk
To Make the Dough :
- Combine the milk, a little sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes till foamy.
- Put this and all other ingredients for the dough in a large bowl or bowl of your dough kneading machine. Knead until you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough. Adjust liquid and flour, in small increments, as required to each this consistency. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a surface and knead a few times. Ideally, your dough should pass the “window pane” test.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp towel (or a silicone lid) and let it rise for about 1 hour, until the dough doubles in size.
Make the Filling while the dough rises.
- Using a spoon, mix together in a bowl all the ingredients for the filling, till combined.
- Cover and refrigerate the filling for about 20 to 30 minutes to chill. The filling should still be of a spreading consistency when you take it out. Do not let it harden.
To Shape the Buns :
- Gently knead the risen dough to degas it. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Work with one portion at a time keeping the others covered. Shape the dough into an oval. Cover 5 pieces of dough with a towel while you shape the first bun.
- Take the chilled filling out of the refrigerator and divide it into 6 portions as well. Each portion should be equal to about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of filling worth. Roll each portion into a ball. The directions below are to shape twisted round buns.
- Degas and slightly flatten each ball of dough. Put each ball of filling in the centre of the dough and bring the sides of the dough circle up, pinching together to completely enclose the filling in the dough. You will now have a ball of dough with filling inside it.
- Roll out one piece of dough until you get a reasonable thin rectangle of about 10 x 4 inches. You don’t need to flour your work surface. If you feel you do, dust lightly with flour.
- Using a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 equidistant long cuts along the length inside the rectangle, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch at the short edges intact. Holding the short edges with your hands, pull very gently to stretch the dough, then twist the dough a few times. Fold into a knot. Tuck both ends under. The filling should show up in layers on the shaped dough. The videos will give you an idea how to do this.
- Place the shaped buns on a lightly greased or parchment lined tray. Transfer the knotted dough onto the lined baking sheet. Cover them loosely and allow them to rise till almost in size. When ready, brush the tops with egg wash or milk.
- Bake them in a pre-heated oven at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes till they’re done and a beautiful light golden brown in colour. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. These buns are best eaten while they’re still a little warm.
- They will keep for 2 or 3 days, but it is best to refrigerate them if you live in warmer climates. Warm them up before eating.
The Bread Baking Babes are –