Simple Coconut Buns from my Fijian Recipe Book
Last weekend I took these freshly baked Coconut Buns to a Tiki-themed potluck party. They are fairly plain and slightly heavy so I wasn't sure if I really was that crazy about them, but my friend Jeanne (whose new 615Project website you have to check out) insisted she loved them and made me promise I would post her the recipe on my blog. Jeanne is certain they would make a great breakfast dish and maybe she is right?
I found the recipe in my Unforgettable Coconut Cookbook, purchased in Fiji a year ago but until now, never used. This book is colourful and packed with beautiful, mouthwatering pictures which belie the simplicity of the recipes. The book backs up what I have mentioned in passing before, there is nothing too sophisticated about Fijian cooking. But that doesn't mean it isn't fun. A note from the authors just about sums it up:
"Please note: We attempted to bring all the recipes to life as accurately as possible... And ok, so some are a wee bit rough around the edges, some are even a wee bit overdone, but that's reality... and it shows that we are a WEE BIT HUMAN!"In Fiji, where undoubtedly all of the ingredients are going to be at a fairly warm temperature to start with, the book's method pretty much calls for throwing all the ingredients in together, using dry yeast. Since San Francisco is a lot colder, I decided to use fresh yeast and warm my milk and so I adapted the recipe accordingly.
4 cups plain flour
3 tsp fresh yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz melted butter
1 beaten egg
1.5 cups of milk warmed to tepid (105F)
2 cups of quality coconut milk at room temperature*
- Heat oven to 350F.
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast in the warmed milk.
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl or Kitchen Aid bowl and stir in the sugar.
- Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg, melted butter and the milk/yeast mixture.
- Mix the ingredients to form a dough that no longer sticks to the bowl.
- Knead by hand on a lightly floured board, or using the dough attachment on the Kitchen Aid, until the dough is smooth and shiny.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic film.
- Leave in a warm place for an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
- Return the dough to the floured board and punch down using your fists.
- Divide the dough into 32 equal pieces and roll each into a ball shape.
- Oil a 10" round cake tin with sides at least 2" high.
- Pack the dough balls into the tin and leave in a warm place for a second rising.
- Again, the dough should double in size.
- Pour the coconut milk over the buns until it reaches the top of the buns.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
- Best served warm.
*Pim kindly took the time to give me advice on the best coconut milks available in the US: Mae Ploy or Chao Koh. I found these in San Francisco at Battambang Market, in the Tenderloin, as recommended to me on Chowhound.
"He who plants a coconut tree, plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a habitation for himself and a heritage for his children."
South Seas Proverb