Soft & Moist Bakery-Style Butter Coconut Buns

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These soft and sweet butter coconut buns are super easy to make with my step-by-step pictorial to guide you! This is the only sweet bun dough recipe you’ll need. Fill with your favourite sweet and savoury fillings. Double or triple to make a large batch for any picnic or tea party!

soft and moist butter coconut buns (cocktail buns)

Last weekend, I posted these butter coconut buns on Instagram, and as promised, I’m following up with the recipe.  These are truly delicious, pillow-soft, sweet bread buns with melt-in-your-mouth butter coconut filling!

I’m super excited to share this master bun dough recipe because it’s the exact one I worked with in my culinary course. In culinary school, we were trained to process large batches of dough for commercial production.

I’ve scaled down the recipe here to yield the typical quantities home bakers are likely to work with. Yay for you, and for me too. Because I’m a home baker at heart and we’re a family of two, so there’s only so much the hubby and I can eat.

As it is, we live in Singapore where it’s warm and humid. Bread can go stale very quickly, so I like to make just enough for two to three days, tops. But most of all, because this is so easy to make.

There’s really no need to bake ahead and freeze, though you could always do so. These buns can be enjoyed fresh out of the oven in just a couple of hours!

soft and moist butter coconut buns (cocktail buns)

The best soft bun dough for all your favourite fillings

You can use this master soft bun dough to wrap just about any sweet or savoury filling that can hold its shape or form at room temperature. I’ve used this with my favourite bun fillings.

These include red bean paste, coconut jam (kaya), cranberry cream cheese , egg tuna mayo, curry potato chicken, spiced chilli sardines, and char siu (roast pork).

This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled to make large batches for a large picnic party, for instance.

I’ve made these as pull-apart buns. What can I say, I get a little high from the thrill of teasing apart these golden puffy pillows of deliciousness! But you can always make these as individual buns, and in any shape you like.

Just be sure to space each bun at least 3 to 4 inches apart from each other.  This will give them ample room to rise and expand.

soft and moist butter coconut buns (cocktail buns)

So, let’s get through this process together, easy-peasy – I promise!

Step-by-step: How to make butter coconut buns

This method of bread making is known as direct method. Basically, it’s a shorter and quicker process, which is what we busy home bakers can really appreciate, right?

Really, all it means is that the dough comes together in one step. We knead all the dry and wet ingredients together (except the salt, more on that in a bit), until it forms a rough dough.

Fats (butter, margarine, shortening, etc.) are incorporated last until we get a smooth, elastic and perfectly developed dough that’s ready for shaping, filling, proofing, and finally, baking.

As I mentioned earlier, adding the salt later is also known as the delayed salt method or autolyse (you can find out more about it here). Without getting into the technical aspects of dough development, it’s a very simple way to improve your bread making.

This method is more crucial when making artisan bread, so if you forgot and accidentally added it in right at the start, don’t panic! Your buns will survive and will still be wonderful!

So, get your apron on! Let’s begin…

Make the butter coconut filling

This is easy enough done by hand, but a mixer will make this effortless and quick. Once you’ve made the butter coconut filling, let it chill in the refrigerator to firm up. It will be a lot easier to fill the buns when the filling is firm.

Make the soft bun dough.

Step 1. Add the dry ingredients together in a mixer bowl. Do not add salt (but if you did, hey, it’s okay!). Stir with a whisk to combine well.

Step 2. Add in the wet ingredients. Do not add butter.  Start the mixer fitted with a dough hook, on low speed for one minute to allow the ingredients to come together.

Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and continue to knead until the all the loose and dry ingredients are picked up by the rough dough and incorporated. The sides of the bowl should start to come clean.

Just wait and watch the self-cleaning miracle! I love this part, isn’t it captivating? This process will usually take a few minutes, and is technically known as pickup stage. 

Step 3. Once the dough reaches pickup stage, add the salt and butter.

Be patient with this step, as it may take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes of kneading at medium-high speed, depending on the speed of your mixer. The rough dough is going to become messy, gooey and sticky as it works to incorporate the butter.

But at the end of this process, it’ll have transformed into the loveliest, smoothest, shiniest dough! It’ll feel like baby skin to the touch. Yes, folks, we want to get as tactile as we can with dough – touch it, feel it.. love it!

Step 4. Do the ‘Windowpane Test’. Once the sides of the bowl come clean, and the dough feels smooth and highly elastic, it’s time to stop kneading and do the ‘Windowpane Test’. This is to check if the dough has been kneaded enough.

First, lightly grease your fingers and palms on both hands with some clean oil. Lop off a small portion of dough, roughly the size of a ping pong ball.

Hold the dough between your two thumbs on the top, and your other fingers underneath. Gently tease and stretch the dough until you get a thin, translucent membrane (see photo above).

If it tears before you can get there, it means the gluten (protein in the flour) isn’t developed enough. If this happens, stick the dough back with the rest in the mixer, and knead for another 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat the test again. Keep repeating until you get the ‘windowpane’.

Step 5. The dough will be quite sticky at this stage. With greased hands, gather the dough into a ball. Cover loosely with cling wrap, and let dough ferment for 15 minutes.

Divide, fill and shape the dough into individual buns.

Weigh the dough, and divide by 12 to get the weight of dough for each bun. The weight should roughly fall between 58 to 60 gm each. Divide into 12 portions. Shape into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.

On a lightly dusted worktop (I use flour as sparingly as possible to avoid drying out the dough further), flip over the ball. This means that the smooth side is underneath, and the rough side faces you.

Flatten with your fingers into a round disc. Scoop 30 gm of filling. I use a mini cookie scoop so that the fillings hold together firmly and are evenly rounded.

Place the filling in the centre of the dough. Wrap the filling by bringing the edges of the dough towards the centre with your fingertips.

Gently pull the dough from all around the sides, to cover the filling evenly and smooth out the sides. Pinch and twist the ends with your fingertips to seal.

Place on paper-lined baking tray, sealed side down, spacing about 1-inch apart for pull-apart buns. Place 3 to 4 inches apart for individually-shaped buns.

Let the buns proof (rise) once.

Let proof for an hour, covered with a tea cloth, or until doubled in size. The buns are proofed enough once they feel soft, almost like a down-filled pillow, to the touch.

And, if you gently press a finger on its side, it leaves an indentation. Note that proofing time may vary, depending on your environment.

Meanwhile, this would be when you can start to preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).

Brush the buns with egg wash and bake till golden brown

Gently brush the top and sides of each bun with egg wash, with emphasis on gently. At this point, the buns are puffy and pillow-y, and need to be handled gently.

Sprinkle sesame seeds to your desire. Bake at 200°C (390°F) for 15 to 20 mins, or until a deep golden brown.

When the buns are just out of the oven and warm, they will be very soft, and the butter coconut filling will be like ‘lava’ when you bite into one!

As I imagine how one of my favourite Sesame Street personalities, Grover, might holler while flailing his arms excitedly in the air, “ENJOY, EVERYBODEEEEEEEE!!!”

Remember I’d love to see all your bakes so remember to tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy if you try this!

Pin this now, save for later!

soft and moist butter coconut buns (cocktail buns)

Soft & Moist Bakery-Style Butter Coconut Buns

Soft & Moist Bakery-Style Butter Coconut Buns

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

These soft and moist butter coconut buns are super easy to make with my step-by-step pictorial to guide you! This is the only sweet bun dough recipe you'll need. Fill with your favourite sweet and savoury fillings. Double or triple to make a large batch for any picnic or tea party!

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 200 g butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 100 g sugar
  • 55 g plain flour
  • 30 g corn flour
  • 20 g milk powder
  • 40 g dried desiccated coconut

For the sweet bun dough:

  • 340 g bread flour
  • 17 g milk powder
  • 7 g custard powder
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 3 g bread improver (optional)
  • 68 g sugar
  • 38 g egg (read instruction)
  • 7 g vinegar
  • 176 g water
  • 17 g milk
  • 34 g butter
  • 3 g salt

For the topping:

  • Some white sesame seeds

Instructions

To make the filling:

  1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed till light. Add plain flour, corn flour, milk powder and desiccated coconut. Mix till well combined. Refrigerate until firm. Store extra filling (if any) in air-tight container, and freeze for up to one month.

To make the dough:

  1. Line a 11 x 14-inch baking tray with baking paper. In a clean mixer bowl, combine bread flour, milk powder, custard powder, yeast, bread improver (optional), and sugar. Stir with a whisk to combine well.
  2. Add egg, vinegar, water and milk (Tip: for egg measurement, beat one whole egg to mix yolk and white evenly. Weigh out 38 grams, set aside the remaining egg for egg wash. You can add 1-2 tsps of milk to make more egg wash, if needed or desired).
  3. Fit the mixer with a dough hook, start on low speed for 1 minute to allow the ingredients to come together as a rough dough. Increase speed to medium-high, and continue to knead until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl (pickup stage).
  4. Add the butter and salt. Knead at medium-high speed until the sides of the bowl come clean, and until the dough is smooth and elastic. This may take 5 - 7 minutes. Do the 'Windowpane Test' (read recipe notes below). Once 'windowpane' is achieved, gather the dough into a ball. Cover loosely with cling wrap, and let dough ferment for 15 minutes.
  5. Weigh the dough, and divide by 12 to get the weight of dough for each bun (it should roughly fall between 58 to 60 gm each). Divide into 12 portions. Shape into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. On a lightly dusted worktop, flip over each dough ball so that the smooth side is underneath, and the rough side faces you. Flatten into a round disc. Place 30 g of filling in the centre of each dough, wrap and seal. Place on paper-lined baking tray, sealed side down, spacing about 1-inch apart for pull-apart buns, or 3 to 4 inches apart for individually-shaped buns.
  7. Proof for an hour in a warm place, covered with a tea cloth, or until doubled in size. The buns are proofed enough if you gently press a finger on its side, and it leaves an indentation. Meanwhile, start pre-heating oven to 200°C (390°F) .
  8. Gently brush the top and sides of each bun with remaining egg wash from (2) above. Sprinkle sesame seeds to your desire. Bake at 200°C (390°F) for 15 to 20 mins, or until buns turn a deep golden brown.

Notes

Notes on Ingredients and Measurements

  • All ingredients are measured by weights to allow ease and accuracy for large-batch production.  For example, you can double, triple, or multiply the weights of every ingredient by the desired factor, to get quantities you require for your needs.
  • Bread improver can be omitted from the recipe, if desired. It is added here as it provides nutrients for the yeast and increases the volume of the dough. It also enhances the texture of the baked buns and extends its freshness. It is highly recommended to incorporate a good quality bread improver when making large quantities of dough for commercial production, or in instances, where you want to improve the shelf life of the baked goods, for instance, for a bakery production. There are many types of bread improvers - some are intended for use in baking crusty breads like artisan breads, and others for soft bread like these buns - so please choose one that is suitable for soft bread production.
  • Milk and Milk powder enhance the flavour and colour of the baked dough, as well as increases it's nutritional value. It is highly recommended to use whole or full-fat milk powder, wherever possible.
  • Custard powder contains modified starch which increases or enhances the ability of the dough to absorb water. It can also impart a slightly creamy yellow tinge to the baked dough, making the bun or bread look 'richer'.
  • The 'Windowpane Test' is done to check if the dough has been kneaded enough. To do this, lightly grease your fingers and palms on both hands with some clean oil. Lop off a small portion of dough, roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Hold the dough between your two thumbs on the top, and your other fingers underneath. Gently tease and stretch the dough until you get a thin, translucent membrane (see photo above). If it tears before you can get there, it means the gluten (protein in the flour) isn't developed enough. If this happens, stick the dough back with the rest in the mixer, and knead for another 2 to 3 minutes, before doing the test again. Keep repeating until you get the 'windowpane'.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 361Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 242mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 6g

All nutritional values are approximate only.

48 Comments

  1. Janie MacDermott

    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.)

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. Hi Celia

    Do you uSe salted or unsalted butter for the filling ?

  5. Can you please email the recipes in cups and teaspoons

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Hello! Do you need to oil the baking paper?

  13. 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.

  14. Hi Celia!

    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.

  15. 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?

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