Pani Popo are INCREDIBLE Samoan coconut buns. They're puffy, light as air and drenched in the most delicious creamy coconut before being baked. They come with a little warning-when fresh you'll eat one in about 10 seconds and have no regrets at all! This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
Pani means bun and popo means coconut in Samoan and these delightful coconut buns come from Samoa. These sweet yeasted buns are blanketed in a sweet coconut cream and can be served with extra coconut sauce on the side. Hand on my heart this is one of the favourite things I've made this year-pinky swear!
Sometimes pani popo are rolled up into a spiral like a cinnamon bun, sometimes they are like a regular round bun. Sometimes the sauce is poured over the buns, other times the buns sit in the sauce and they're served upturned. Whichever version you make, they're all absolutely delicious.
Tips for making amazing Pani Popo:
1 - My hot tip for the fluffiest, highest pani popo - use a high protein bread flour. These will still be absolutely delicious with plain all purpose flour but the rise and structure that you get from a high protein flour is unbeatable. I used a high protein flour by Provenance which is a single origin flour made with Spitfire wheat grown by a farmer called Richard Tweedy at North Star in NSW. It was $10 for a 2kg bag and I got it delivered with my vege box.
2 - This is a dough that is best made in a mixer as it can take around 10-15 minutes in a mixer to get the desired consistency.
3 - I also add a little salt into my coconut cream topping to balance the sweetness.
4 - Because I was making 12 buns and they would be huge and there are only two of us, I made a tangzhong roux to make them last a bit longer. That proved unnecessary. Four went to a friend who was really sick and could only eat bland food and another four went to Laura and her mother Sheryl. Two went to Nina and Garth because I wasn't sure if they would even understand them (Nina finds scones bewildering).
Speaking of bewildering, this past weekend I booked tickets for something that I didn't completely understand. It was a virtual immersive storytelling event where you put on headphones and listen to a creepy story being told by a whole cast of characters. Monica sent me the link as we're both trying to find interesting things to do every week while in lockdown. This is by Darkfield Radio and pre-COVID they'd do these events in shipping containers. I've never been to one and I didn't really understand what I was booking for but tickets were just $35 a person and hell I was just looking for something to do on the weekend.
For the whole week prior I was excited about it. It went from 5pm to 7:30pm on the Saturday and all you needed was a pair of good quality headphones (my iphone earbuds did just fine). There are three different sessions and settings in which you will listen to the story. The first is in a park where you sit on a park bench, the second is sitting in your car and the third is in your lounge room. You need to close your eyes to make the most of the experience and listen to the tale being told.
As someone that loves ASMR (I get tingles!) and sounds I loved the quality of the sound and it felt like I was there. The story itself was quite interesting and each of the three sessions goes for around 20 minutes so you get a little break in between. I'd message Monica in between seeing how she liked it. We both had some technical issues and I'd advise loading the event at least 10 minutes before it is meant to start. I don't want to give any of it away but by the end everyone had a different opinion on it: Monica loved it while Marco was really creeped out by it and kept checking their doors afterwards. I really liked the audio component but thought that the story could have been creepier and more compelling (I'm a ghoul remember!) but it had huge potential and I'd probably try another while in lockdown. As for Mr NQN, well he fell asleep!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like ASMR? Would you do an event like this? Have you got any other tips for events or activities during lockdown?
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Pani Popo Samoan Coconut Buns
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 2 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 25 minutes plus 1 hour 40 minutes rising time
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 12 generously sized buns
- 480g/17ozs. bread flour plus extra for rolling
- 1/2 cup/125ml/4flozs. water
- 3/4 cup/187mls/6.3flozs milk
- 85g/3ozs. sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon instant dried yeast
- 60g/2ozs. butter, cubed, room temperature
- 285ml/9.6flozs. coconut cream
- 1/2 cup/125g/4ozs. white sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons cornflour/fine cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
Window pane effect
Step 1 - Take 20g/0.7ozs. of the total flour weight and mix with 1/2 cup of water. Heat gently on medium heat until it reaches 65C/149F. Then whisk in the milk, sugar, salt and egg and mix until combined. Then add the rest of the flour and the yeast and knead for 5 minutes. Add in the cubes of butter and knead until elastic and you get the window pane effect where you can pull apart the dough a couple of inches without it breaking (use floured hands). This may take 10-15 minutes of kneading using a machine (longer by hand, around 25 minutes or so). It can be a slightly sticky dough so add a little flour to make it easy to handle but try not to add too much flour. It is better to grease you hands with some oil to handle the dough.
Making the sweet coconut cream
Step 2 - Shape the dough into a ball with no creases on the top and place in a large, greased bowl and cover and allow to rise for 1 hour. While it is rising make the coconut cream topping so that it has time to cool. Place the coconut cream, sugar, cornflour and salt in a saucepan and heat to medium heat stirring so that it thickens gradually. It will take about 8-0 minutes. Cool.
Step 3 - Spray a large 23x33cms/9x13inch baking dish with oil. Punch down the dough and then shape into 12 evenly shaped buns making sure that there are no cracks on the top (keep kneading them and the cracks will eventually disappear). Place in the baking dish and cover and allow to rise for 35-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Once the buns have had their second rise pour the coconut syrup over the buns and bake for 35-40 minutes. The buns will look quite light in the oven but then darken once they cool off. Serve immediately - try one of these warm from the oven and you'll be in coconut heaven!
No cracks on top of each bun
Pouring sweet coconut cream on top
I sprinkled a teaspoon of coconut on top (not needed)
Baked coconut buns