Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Simple Coconut Buns from my Fijian Recipe Book

photograph picture how to make recipe for coconut buns from Fiji

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

Archive | 2004: Labor Day Dinner

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Simple Coconut Buns from my Fijian Recipe Book


  • At 6/9/06 09:33, Blogger Unknown said…

    Lord that sounds tasty!

  • At 6/9/06 11:36, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    so you forgot about your "Unforgettable" cookbook?? :) Looks like a great recipe!

  • At 6/9/06 16:07, Blogger Catherine said…

    yummy! these are very appealing and I have some coconut milk to use up. dare I try a yeast bread again?

  • At 6/9/06 16:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sounds delicious! I love coconut...

  • At 6/9/06 19:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i had to feed the leftovers to the birds!

    wmm- ha! - it wasnt so much I forgot it - but since i am a seasonal eater i 'shy' away from coconuts. ha ha ha I am so funny.

    mary - my friend jeanne is going to make it this weekend for her mum who is staying and I think she plans on serving it at breakfast. so I'll see how she gets on. trouble with making it for breakfast is you have to get up a couple of hours earlier!

    catherine - yes - yeast is very forgiving if you treat it carefully.

    jennifer - buying these authentic milks is definitely a huge change from the awful Thai Kitchen stuff I picked up at wholefoods. It's really rich and creamy.

  • At 7/9/06 03:09, Blogger lobstersquad said…

    oh, Fidji! I´m obsessed with the South Pacific, but it´s just too far away. Lucky you.

  • At 7/9/06 05:16, Blogger Belinda said…

    I really felt like something with coconut milk before. This may be it! Wow!

  • At 8/9/06 07:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There must be something in the air. I've been carrying around a coconut bread recipe for a week now. The buns look amazing!

  • At 9/9/06 20:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just to be sure to actually buy Chaokoh, and not some other look-alike chao-something-or-other. There are lots of labels that deliberately look just like it, and are spelled similarly. Some are quite terrible. I always remember which is the good one by remembering that "Chaokoh" has an "OK" in it.

    BTW - Mae Ploy is quite nice too - Pim is correct. I also like Bangkok when I can find it. It's good and doesn't have preseravtives. It's sometimes available at Ranch 99. But Chaokoh is my standby.

  • At 15/9/06 01:13, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with Pim on Chao Koh. Not only it is creamy and delicious - it is also very consistent when you thin it with water as you do when you make curries and some of the sweet recipes.

  • At 9/5/07 13:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hmm i dont know what to say but that looks y-u-m-m-y!!

  • At 4/10/07 08:30, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    were making this for our school project. Thx 4 the gr8 recipe !!!

  • At 17/10/07 04:52, Anonymous Anonymous said…


  • At 6/8/08 01:57, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    do yu hve to prepare the coconut milk befor using it

  • At 6/8/08 09:07, Blogger Sam said…

    I used canned coconut milk.
    I didn't do anything to it - just straight from the can.

  • At 6/9/08 21:40, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    my cousin makes it all the time and it reminds me a little of bit of my childhood growing up in Fiji.

    its like 9:39pm and we're making it right now.

  • At 13/12/08 18:55, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey well im from new zealand and i am part cook island. i stayed in the cook islands for a year and while i was there i had these really delicious coconut buns and well i was only 10 years old at the time so i didnt really think of getting the recipe.i woke up the other morning thinking about coconut buns and bad i wanted to eat them again after 6 years of having them the last time so i looked it up on google for the recipe and found your page!!!im definetly gonna give it a shot

  • At 2/2/09 17:22, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thanks very much for these great recipe,i'm fijian and had forgotten how to make the lolo(coconut milk) bun.thanks alot this is my favorite and haven't had it for years.
    i use chaokoh milk.


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