Husband Tom is a big fan of those little sweet Hawaiian rolls that you can buy at the grocery store in a four pack and I occasionally pick them up for him. I did a little research on the rolls and found numerous recipes for a Samoan bun called Pani Popo. Many of the recipes called for frozen bun dough or refrigerated biscuit dough but I had a recipe for a savory bun dough from an archived La Cucina Italiana magazine that I converted to sweet. What makes these buns special is the coconut sauce poured over before baking resulting in a little "sweet" sauce on the bottom of the bun. They're great with coffee or tea and fresh strawberries. —inpatskitchen
For the bun dough
unsweetened coconut milk from a 13.5 ounce can ( make sure to whisk the can of milk thoroughly) and save the rest for the sauce
active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups bread flour, divided (plus more for kneading)
Warm the half cup of milk to 90 to 100 degrees and then in a large mixing bowl, combine it with the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of the flour. Let this mixture rest for about 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes stir in the egg, butter, coconut flakes and salt. Start adding the remaining flour, a little at at time until incorporated. On a floured work surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. (You can also use your mixer's dough hook if desired)
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in, turning once to lightly oil all surfaces. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. This could take anywhere from one to three hours depending.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 9 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and placed them in a lightly greased 8 to 9 inch round baking pan. Let the buns rise again for 30 to 40 minutes.
For the sauce and baking
While the buns are rising, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar and water.
Pre heat your oven to 375F. Pour the sauce over the risen buns. You may not need all of it, but try to get as much in as you can without overspill. I used about 7 ounces, but it will depend on the height of your baking dish.
Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden on top. Let them rest for about 20 minutes so that the lovely sauce on the bottom sets up.
I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I learned...to this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining.
My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!