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Sourdough Pani Popo (Coconut buns) - a very interesting baking method

txfarmer's picture

Sourdough Pani Popo (Coconut buns) - a very interesting baking method

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Index for my blog entries:


I saw this pani popo recipe a while ago: . What's interesting is the way the buns are baked: instead of adding coconut milk "IN" the dough, it's poured into the pan right before baking, so essentially the buns are baked "IN" coconut milk instead. I changed the formula to use my white starter, but kept the rest the same.

Sourdough Pani Popo (adapted from My Kitchen Snippets)

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain

Note: total flour is 250g, fit a 8X8 square tin.


- levain

starter (100%), 13g

milk, 22g

bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- final dough

bread flour, 203g (I used half KAF bread flour and half KAF AP flour for a balance of chewiness and volume)

sugar, 5g

butter, 18g, softened

salt, 3g

milk, 155g

levain, all

- for soaking

coconut milk, 125g

sugar, 38g


1. mix together everything in final dough, knead until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details.

2. rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.

3. takeout, divide into 9 parts, round, rest for 1 hour. shape into rolls, and put in 8inch squre pan.

4. rise at room temp (78F) for about 6 hours. they should be almost fully proofed, i.e. barely spring back when pressed.

5. Mix together coconut milk and sugar, pour into pan, bake at 375F for 30min.


Exceedingly soft and fluffy due to intensive kneading and proper fermentation


The coconut milk at the bottom became thick gooey sweet sauce during baking, adding great flavor to the enriched soft buns. My batch was only slightly tangy, but that might just be my starter. Next time I might try adding coconut milk and shredded coconut filling in the buns as well to maximize the coconut flavor, however, they were delicious and quickly gone as is.




lumos's picture

Beautiful and yummy looking bread, as usual, txfarmer!....and very interesting method as you said.  I'll bake this for my daughter before she leaves for uni this autumn. This is exactly the kind of bread she'd love.



btw, the link in the procedure No.1 ('this post') seems to be hyperlinked to a wrong place...namely this thread....;)


txfarmer's picture

Sorry about the link, the url was somehow modified automatically between cut and paste, but it's now working correctly.

SylviaH's picture

Oh, I remember seeing these lovely buns..I have cans of coconut milk in my cupboard and was so tempted to bake them but, I'm limiting my sweets, so didn't get around to this one.   I love your version, very nicely done, with the SD conversion, txfarmer!  What is the biggest influence you use to determine your percentage of levain to use, when you are converting a formula?  I'm thinking maybe how active your starter is ?  Lot's of questions, today ....:) my conversion chart says 2 cups of flour is equal to 220gms.  Your formula calls for a total of 250gms...close, but just wondering is '250g' gms.  what you use for 2 cups of flour?  Maybe, just your hydration adjustment...just some things I was wondering...  Thanks, txfarmer for your advice :)

Happy Baking, Sylvia

txfarmer's picture

A cup of flour can be anywhere from 120 to 150 (110 is lower than anything I have seen though) grams, depending on how the author measures. I usually go for 125 grams, then adjust hydration to what I like, in this case, 2 cups of flour == 250g.

The levain ratio was determined by trial and error. I have made a lot of these SD soft breads, and I have a schedule that's the most convenient for me (cold retarding in fridge to split the work into 2 days, etc), and this ratio has been working well for me, so I stick to that. You certainly can adjust that if your starter is a lot slower/faster, and/or you prefer a shorter/longer rise.

SylviaH's picture

Your flour measurement sounds much better than my conversion charts..when I use the old scoop and scrape method..I get a cup at around 128gms.  would be lighter if I spooned in the flour and then scrape just goes to show you how much 'feel' counts :) when mixing up a batch of dough!

Happy Baking, Sylvia

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

and great photography! Truly mouthwatering!

In southwest Germany, where I come from, there is a similar method, using milk and sugar (no coconut palm trees in the Black Forest). The milk/sugar mix is poured into a large pot, the buns are added, and then cooked with closed lid on the stove.

It's called Dampfnudeln (In other parts of Germany they do it with water).

The caramelized milk at the bottom was always something to look forward to.

I definitely will try the coco variant.


txfarmer's picture

I always love to learn about unique breads in different parts of the world, so what you said about Dampfnudeln is really interesting, I wonder whether this coconut version has any relation with the German version...

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


I had a look for some recipes, and the following ones are similar to what we had as kids:

Note that these Dampfnudeln are actually boiled and steamed,

whereas Rohrnudeln (relatives of the Dampfnudeln) are baked, but without the milk bath.

The coconut buns seem like a combination of the two methods.

I see some experiments coming up for Sunday ...



Syd's picture

Look delicious txsfarmer.  And I love coconut milk, too.  I have seen this method somewhere before but can't quite remember where.  Anyway, this is definitely 'one to try'.  Nice baking. :)


Janetcook's picture

Another one for my 'to bake' list.....

I was going to use the can of coconut milk in my cupboard to make chocolate ice cream for the I am having to rethink my plans as breads are always more fun for me to play around with and this looks like a very interesting combination - especially with the sourdough.  ( I have finally learned how to convert formulas from IY to SD. Fun to do and it has REALLY broadened my horizons!)

Thanks for the formula :-)


FoodFascist's picture

Wow! I'll certainly have a go. Tho I haven't got scales so will have to fiddle with quantities a bit.

Is that right there's only 5g sugar in the dough? That's only 1 teaspoon?

FoodFascist's picture

oh, the original recipe does say 1 teaspoon. Sorry about that! Is it just the coconut then that makes it sweet?

txfarmer's picture

There's another 38g of sugar in coconut milk "sauce".

FoodFascist's picture

yes, but that doesn't seem like a lot to me for a sweet bun. Although I've never used coconut milk in cooking, does it vary in sweetness? I just bought some creamed coconut because I got so excited about your recipe I wanted to try it. It's the type you mix with water before use. I tried some and it's not very sweet.

I'm just genuinely curious because I tend to use at least a quarter less sugar in any sweets recipe I do, I found that most recipes prescribe much more sugar than really necessary. Yours seems to be the opposite. The average cake of that volume would use  some 100 g  sugar if not more. Do they come out really sweet, or more like with a sweet touch? Does the coconut souce soak them through, or mostly stay at the bottom?

Also (sorry if it sounds like a travesty to you) do you think one could add other nuts, e.g. ground or flaked almond to these buns? What about raisins? Cinnamon?

freerk's picture

Oh tx!

You do manage to keep us busy, don't you!

Great new technique that needs exploring of course!

I am particularly impressed with your crust/crumb photographs; calling them pics wouldn't do them justice! Beautiful light, elegant composition, very good photography!

Thanks for sharing!


Sander's picture

Hi there,

I'm very late replying to this thread but I've just stumbled upon this recipe and I'm super keen to try it. I'm new to this forum so I'll be sure to introduce myself properly in the right section.

For now, I just wanted to get some advice on adjusting this one.

I'm working a full-time schedule atm and it's a bit hard to only stick to weekends for baking so I'm trying to find a way around fermenting long and slow by dividing it up in parts, using a fridge.

I was wondering for this recipe if I could shape the buns after resting the dough for an hour and putting them back in the fridge about two hours later. I can do the rest of the fermentation at room temp the next day (I was thinking another 4 to 5 hours)

I usually work in the evenings but I live in tropical Vietnam so it's always toasty warm here, which is super awesome when working with sourdough. :-)


Any advice is obviously welcome and thanks in advance!




ahbramey's picture

I just made these tonight but used this recipe:

Now I am curious about trying them with sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast. Will definitely play around with it!

jellysquare's picture

I had the same thought about these rolls when I read the original recipe.  My grandmother also added vanilla to the milk.