Pani Popo: Samoan Coconut buns

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I am curious about international cuisine, and love to try them whenever I get a chance.There are some dishes that you just can’t go to the local restaurant and try; you have to make it to get a taste of it. Yes I saw this recipe in King Arthur flour blog the first time. When I saw it, I like it very much and planned to make it. But it stayed in my plans for a long time. Finally I got time this weekend I made it, we loved it.


Samoa is group of Islands in South Pacific Ocean. It comprises two jurisdictions, the independent country of Samoa in the western half of the islands, and the territory of American Samoa comprising the islands to the east. The two regions are separated by 64 km of ocean.  Just like any other  food culture, their also  includes lot of locally available ingredients like, coconut, breadfruit, taro and other root vegetables, fish, lobster and chicken etc. If you want read more from here . If you are interested know more about Samoan food then this site will be a good choice.
I have a weakness to coconut and its derivatives, and love to try whenever I get a chance. Pani Popo (in Samoa, pani means buns and popo means coconut).  Buns are baked with coconut milk sauce and the resulting baked buns have a coconut milk dunked bottom side. And it tastes great.  I read lot of recipes and watched this you tube video.
Basically it is sweet milk buns dunked with coconut milk. I adapted the recipe from My kitchen snippets, also from King Arthur flour site and used both All-purpose flour and bread flour to prevent them from being extra chewy.  I used a slightly increased the amount of yeast, water and sugar. Coconut milk sauce was made with equal parts of coconut milk and water and sugar to taste according this recipe. For sweetness I used powdered sugar as I found the recipe of King Arthur flour using cornstarch in the coconut milk. Since powdered sugar/ confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, I used 3 tablespoon of powdered sugar for ½ cup of coconut milk.  You can increase the amount of sugar if you want a really sugary bun. I baked buns with sweetened coconut sprinkled on the top, even though it is not in traditional recipe.
These buns will be good with mixed vegetable stew. My hubby enjoyed it with spicy pickle. While both me and princess enjoyed it as such. I love it, and I am going to make more often. Try this when get hold of a can of coconut milk or you make fresh coconut milk at home.
First grab your ingredients.
I found that measuring everything in the kitchen aid stand mixer bowl seems to be easy. Measure flour, yeast, salt, sugar, then warm the milk and add butter in it so that it will melt easily. Gradually add milk and butter mixture to the flour mixture and form smooth dough. Add water if necessary. Set aside in a slightly greased bowl for first rise. It takes about 90 minutes at room temperature. 
Once dough doubles in volume punch down, transfer to work bench and cut into 8 equal pieces. Grease a cake tin and set aside. Make balls out each piece by squashing the bottom to form a perfect round and place it in grease cake tin. Set aside for second rise. 
At end of the rising time pre heat the oven to 350 F.  Make coconut milk sauce by mixing equal parts of coconut milk and water and add 3 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar.  Slightly warm it in microwave for uniform mixing.
When you are ready for baking, pour coconut milk sauce all over the raised buns.  Sprinkle the top of buns with sweetened coconut.
 And bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown or it register internal temperature of 190F.
Serve warm with coconut milk dunked part on  top.
If you have any left overs for next day slightly warm before serving. Serve extra dose of coconut sauce if you want. 
                                                           Print Recipe 
Pani Popo : Samoan Coconut milk Buns

Adapted from My Kitchen Snippets and King Arthur flour Recipe

Prep Time    20 minutes
First rise: 90 minutes
Second rise: 60 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Serves    8 buns


For bun

1 cup/ 160g  Bread flour
1 cup/ 141 g All purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon Instant yeast
½ tablespoon/8g Sugar
¼ teaspoon  Salt
¾ cup/ 171g Warm Milk
1 ½ tablespoon  Water
 1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon of sweetened coconut

For Sauce
            ½ cup thick coconut milk
             ½ cup water
              3 tablespoon of confectioners  sugar or powdered sugar


  •  If you are using active dry yeast you need to proof the yeast with milk and sugar. I used instant yeast so skipped that part.
  • Heat milk in microwave safe bowl to 30 seconds or it reaches lukewarm temperature. In the warm milk add butter so that it melts and set aside.
  • In bowl of kitchenaid stand mixer  add in the 2 cups of  flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix and knead the dough milk and water for form a smooth dough.
  • Transfer the dough to lightly greased bowl  for double in size, it takes about 90 minutes.
  • Prepare and grease an a round baking pan and set aside.
  • Once the dough is doubled in size remove from bowl and divide it into 8 round balls. Place them in the baking pan, cover and let it rest again until double in size.
  • In the meantime,  make coconut milk sauce by mixing the coconut milk with  water and  3 tbsp of  confectioners sugar  and set aside. ( if you want you can slightly warm the coconut milk in microwave for about 15 seconds for uniform mixing of sugar)
  • By the end of second rising,  preheat the oven to 350F.
  • when you are  ready to bake, pour the sauce all over the buns  and  sprinkle the sweetened coconut  over the buns  and bake  for about 30 minutes or they become golden brown color and register the internal temperature of 190 F.
  • Serve warm with upside down, that is coconut sauce side  on the top
  • It is delicious.

You can add more coconut .

I am linking this Hearth and Soul blog hop 118 hosted here
 Yeast Spotting
Bake your own Bread


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  1. says

    Love the name…Pani Popo…so utterly cute, but mostly delicious. Also love the step-by-step photos instructions, as always! A definite keeper for me to try this yummy soft sweet bread rolls!

  2. says

    Oh, mine! this look so delicious, Swathi. King arthur website is also my go to place to get reliable recipes for yeast breads but never saw this recipe. It must taste so yummy with the coconut.

    I am taking this recipe with me, thank you for sharing.


  3. says

    We are huge coconut lovers here. Those look so good. I’m still “yeast phobic” and have yet to make anything using it. My husband is completely comfortable with doing that so I’m going to pass this recipe to him and hope that he makes some for me. :)

  4. says

    At first it looked like honyeycomb buns to me (a family favourite) but on reading further I found it to be a very different recipe. I’m sure it must be delicious.

  5. says

    I love the sound of these buns, Swathi! They look so tender and addicting. And for some reason they make me think of Spring, so I make make them next Easter…they sound just right. Thanks so much for adding them to the BYOB bread basket this month =)