Delightfully sweet coconut buns

Published May 26, 2022 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / ligora

These aren’t your average dinner buns, but if you’re craving something sweet and on the hunt for an elevated treat, then they might just hit the spot.

What are coconut buns?

The coconut bun, aka the cocktail bun, is a shredded coconut-filled, sweet bun that originated in Hong Kong, where the iconic baked treat is still quite popular. You’ll often come across these gems at Chinese bakeries, and their dense milky nature is nothing like coconut cake. Instead, they’re heavier, creamier, with the perfect amount of bread and filling in every single bite.

How to make coconut buns

If you don’t want to deal with the potential fallout of the filling, leave out the creamy center and use it to ice the buns instead. Coconut buns are great on their own or topped with a scoop of your favourite ice cream. For those with a super powerful sweet tooth, a sprinkling of icing sugar will take the metaphorical cake and taste great.

Preparation time: 3 hours

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Calories: 389

Servings: 12

Bread ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast (active)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Filling ingredients

  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • ¼ cup powdered milk
  • 6 tablespoons cannabutter
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar

Topping ingredients

  • Egg wash (1 egg whipped with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Sugar mix (1 tablespoon granulated sugar dissolved in 15ml hot water)
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 4 ½ teaspoons icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Clean damp towel
  • Medium mixing bowls (2)
  • Whisk
  • Rolling pin
  • Tablespoon
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Sauce brush


  1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine the heavy cream, cake flour, bread flour, milk, sugar, egg, yeast and salt, slowly work in each ingredient into the mix in that order.

  2. Work the dough by hand or in a stand mixer with dough attachment for 15 minutes. By this point, if your dough is too sticky, you can add a little bit more flour until it reaches your desired texture. Alternatively, dough that is too thick may be thinned by adding ¼ teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together in a good workable form.

  • Now the dough is ready to be proofed, so cover it with a dampened towel and leave it to rest somewhere warm for 1 full hour, by which point it should have grown by 50%.

  • While you wait for the dough, start working on the filling by combining all of the called-for ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with a whisk. Now set the mixture aside for the moment.

  • Knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes before flipping it out onto a lightly floured surface.

  • Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.

  • Flatten each chunk of dough with a rolling pin until they are approximately 4 inches long by 3 inches wide.

  • Spoon a tablespoon of the filling into the middle of each piece of dough.

  • Roll the dough into a tube, folding the ends just underneath to seal in all that goodness. Repeat until all of the buns are complete.

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the buns over before covering them all with a towel once more and leaving them to rise for another 45 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  • Prepare the topping by combining all of the called-for ingredients in a clean mixing bowl. Transfer the topping mixture into a piping bag or plastic baggie with a corner cut open to mimic the action.

  • Once the coconut buns have finished rising, it’s time to apply the egg wash by brush and add 2 strips of the topping blend to each one.

  • Top the buns off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds before popping them into the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

  • Serve warm or cold for a spectacular, one-of-a-kind treat!

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