cardamom coconut buns

It took me three tries, but I think I finally got these the way I want them to be. Third time’s the charm. The coconut for some reason really overpowers the vanilla, but not enough to cut it out completely. Enough to knock it out from the name, though. You see, initially I was just going to make these all about the vanilla and the cardamom and call these ‘vanilla cardamom buns’, but then I ended up needing something to bulk up the filling, and the coconut really fit the bill. So then I was thinking of calling them ‘vanilla cardamom coconut buns’, but that that’s just slightly too long a name and I feel the vanilla doesn’t have a strong enough presence as the other two ingredients. So ‘cardamom coconut buns’ it is.

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This recipe is inspired by Swedish and Chinese sweet bun recipes that utilize cardamom and coconut, respectively. The source for the dough recipe and its shaping, though, is based on a Turkish sweet roll called tahinli çörek, which utilizes a sweet tahini (ground sesame seeds) paste for the filling. To see my blog post of this type of Turkish sweet roll, go here.

There are two things that you may like enough about this recipe to go ahead and try making them:

-The kneading time for the dough is not long at 6 minutes. Listen to one or two of your favorite songs while you knead and you’ll be good to go!

-When you first take it out of the oven, you can glide little pats of butter over the tops, and not only does that smell amazing, the tops will look shinier and glossier.

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cardamom coconut buns


for the dough:

1/2 cup warm water (110-114 degrees F), plus a pinch sugar

2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus ~1/3 cup more for kneading, if needed

2 teaspoons salt

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup whole milk, lukewarm

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

for the filling:

2/3 cup confectioners sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1 Tablespoon ground cardamom

1 cup hot water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted butter

for brushing on tops before baking:

1 egg white

1 teaspoon of milk


Stir together into a small bowl the 1/2 cup of water, a pinch of sugar, and then add the yeast and stir gently, then set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy. Start over if not frothy.

Into a medium large bowl, add together the flour, salt, and sugar and stir with a whisk several times. Set aside.

In a small bowl, add together the eggs, 1 egg yolk (reserving the egg white for brushing the rolls later before baking), the milk, vanilla, and olive oil and whisk or stir together. Set aside.

When the yeast/water mixture is frothy, add it to the flour and stir a few times, followed by adding the egg/milk/vanilla mixture. Stir a few times once again until the whole thing is a shaggy mess, not yet a dough.

Empty the contents of the bowl, scraping the contents including the sides, unto a clean floured work surface and start to knead the contents for about 6 minutes. A dough will start to form from the shaggy mess that is smooth and elastic. No need to knead further. Keep on hand the 1/3 cup of flour and only add a Tablespoon at a time if needed if dough is too sticky to handle. Form dough into a ball once dough is smooth and elastic after about 6 minutes of kneading.

Grease the bowl it was in and place back into the bowl, turning once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil and cover bowl and let sit for about 1 to 1.5 hours depending on how cool or hot your kitchen is, until the dough has doubled in volume.

While dough is rising, make the filling by first stirring together the sugar, cornstarch, coconut, and cardamom in a bowl. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium high heat and when the butter is melted add the coconut mixture, plus 1 cup of hot water, and vanilla to the skillet, then stir until it starts to boil and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Remove from heat and set aside at room temperature to cool down.

When dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead very briefly to help redistribute the yeast. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Use a scale if you want to ensure that each piece of dough is exactly the same size.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Form each piece of dough into a flat disc that is about 6 inches in diameter. (If you want to make sure that there is enough filling for each roll, you can pre-portion out 12 portions of filling that is about 2 Tablespoons each. That way each roll will not only be uniform in the amount of dough, but also in the amount of filling.)

Place about 2 Tablespoons of the coconut mixture in the middle of the disc and spread the filling towards all edges of the disc to about a half inch. Then, roll each disc tightly, starting from one end to the other, to a log shape and pinch the ends and edges shut, then continue to roll it on the counter to make them skinnier and longer to a length of about 11-12 inches. If the counter has too much flour it may be difficult to roll, but if it doesn’t have enough flour, it might stick to the counter, so you want to make sure the counter has the right amount of flour and moisture on it so that you can easily roll the dough to a longer shape.

To shape into buns, start on one end of the log and roll each log of dough into a coil, but when doing so, also twist the log as you coil. Tuck the end under the bun and pinch to close. When you place it on the parchment lined baking sheet, flatten the top of the entire bun with the palm of your hand by pressing down slightly.

Don’t worry if they look too flat, there’s still time for it to rise a little before baking them. Do this for each dough portion, placing six buns to each baking sheet, and cover each baking sheet with a light damp towel to let rise again for about 45 minutes to an hour, again depending on how hot or cold your place is.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

When ready to bake, mix together the reserved egg white with a teaspoon of milk and brush the tops of each bun. Sprinkle with coarse or pearl sugar if desired. I left mine plain because I wanted to see the striations or marbling effect created by the cardamom coconut filling showing through in random areas on each bun.

Place in the oven set at 350 degrees F. and bake for about 22-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. I just baked one baking sheet at a time, choosing to bake the first 6 buns that I formed first, but you can probably bake both sheets at once on the two racks closest to the center of the oven, but you may need to rotate the baking sheets midway or bake them a little longer to ensure even baking.

Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks, making sure the area they are in is free of cold temperatures or drafts which can cause the rolls to have a wrinkled look on their surfaces. This is optional, but rub a small pat of butter on each bun right out of the oven, if you want. Store buns when cool in an air tight container at room temperature.

2 responses to “cardamom coconut buns”

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