Thursday, October 20, 2011

Panipopo: Sticky Coconut Love in a Bun


Panipopo. The If you did it right - Sticky Coconut Bun

I am forever spoiled by the Teo's who lived behind my house in Mesepa. When I was 9, their little bush store was my haven for treats. They gave me my first taste of panipopo & no other one has been quite able to match it. (sorry Grammy Lama - not even yours were THAT good)

For fifty cents, I could indulge my craving for something sticky & sweet & yummy.

Because I've gotten good & tired of people selling what I basically taste as BREAD in coconut cream sauce I decided to try my own hand at. I borrowed & adapted a Universal Sweet Roll mix from the Clueless Baker cookbook (it's my favorite baking cookbook! Am trying to decide if I should steal it from the library!) & made up a simple coconut cream sauce.

First the rolls. I don't mind admitting that I was intimidated by the whole yeast in flour process. I don't particularly like working with yeasty doughs. Mostly because I want instant gratification when I bake instead of waiting around for dough to rise and because from what I can tell yeast is a temperamental bastard. Too hot, too cold, too much sweet, too little sweet & the damn things die on you!

Let me just share with you that RapidRise yeast is your friend. Use it often. You'll thank yourself for it.

But because I like to do things that I've never done before (Hello! My Ex can tell you all about that!*laughing*) I actually took the time to proof yeast. Which let me tell you is quite an experience.

(Regular Active Yeast goes into warm water & sugar- but not too hot water. Helpful hint from a fellow foodie blogger - water should feel warm to the inside of your wrist - like how I would test if a bottle of milk for a baby is warm enough. Then you stir it & let is sit for 10 minutes. If it doubles - its still good. If its flat - its dead. Bury it.)

Sweet Roll Recipe:
5 cups of flour ( All purpose is good)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes of RapidRise yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk (I used skim milk) OR 3/4 cup of milk + 1/4 coconut cream
1/2 cup of butter (or margarine)
2 eggs

put 2 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl
add in the 1/2 cup of sugar
add in the 2 packets of yeast
add in the 1 tsp of salt
use your hands to mix this up together.

in a microwave safe bowl combine the milk & butter. this is IMPORTANT: only microwave it long enough to make it uncomfortably warm but not too hot. the butter might not melt completely into the milk and that's ok.

Once the milk & butter mixture is heated up, you're going to start pouring it into the flour mixture being careful to alternate the milk&butter mixture. Add the eggs in now alternating with the remaining 3 cups of flour. Stir it as your adding in the wet & dry ingredients.

This mixture will be sticky & gooey. This is what you want it to be. Keep stirring until its too doughy to stir it anymore. Add more flour if you need too. What you want it to look like is doughy not gloopy.

Generously flour a space for you to turn the doughy goodness out on too so you can knead it.

Knead the dough about 10 minutes or until it stops feeling sticky. Add more flour in small dustings as needed.

Get another large bowl & oil it good with vegetable oil. Take the dough and put it into this new oiled bowl. Dip your fingers into some oil and grease the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap ( I used a plastic grocery bag and just slipped it over the top) and set it in a nice warm draft free place so it can double up in size.

It should take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes for the dough to double in size. When it does this, go ahead & punch it right down in the middle & then turn it back out on the floured surface so you can knead it a few times before shaping it.

While the dough is rising - its time to make the sauce.

Coconut Cream Sauce:
5 cups of coconut cream (from a bottle, from a can, from the tree - whatever)
3 tsp cornstarch
1/8 cup  water
1/2 cup granulated sugar

I don't like my sauce to be too sweet, if you want yours sweeter add more sugar. If you want it thicker put more cornstarch in it.

(* Just in case - please make a slurry out of the 1/8 cup of water & the cornstarch. Mix that together & then add that to the heated coconut cream Do not just toss the cornstarch in to the cream!)

Cook this over a low heat until it begins to thicken. It should be syrupy not solid like a rock or runny like water. Think thick maple syrup kind.

Cool it down & then ladle it into a pan.

Go ahead & put in as much sauce as you think will be good.

I put about 1 1/2 inches of it at the bottom my 9X13 inch pans.

For the buns - I pulled out pieces of dough that were about a large dinner spoon size & then rolled them around in my hands until they were circular enough.

Helpful hint: I was able to get 20 dough balls into a 13x9 pan. Leave about a two finger width space between each ball so that it has room to expand. This lets the bun be lighter & fluffier when you bake it.

I placed the little round dough balls in the pans with coconut sauce on the bottom & then let them rise in the pan until the doubled back up in size. After they were as high as I wanted them to be, I put them into a preheated oven @ 325 degrees to bake for 20 minutes or until their tops are browned.

After I pulled the pans from the oven, I spooned another 1/2 cup of sauce over the tops.

You can serve it hot straight from the oven or cooled down.

Doesn't matter because fans will gobble this up quickly! My little beasties barely waited for the pans to come out of the oven. Lucky I made several pans which they also gifted to the missionaries passing by, the neighbors & to themselves again. Since no one died & the Elders attempted to thank me in Samoan ( I got a good laugh at that because Hello! we all know I don't speak Samoan) the next day - I'm going to assume, I got the panipopo's just right.

With love & Sticky Coconut Cream Buns~


  1. hi lucy! I love yur treats!
    `-nieces and nephews in Nevada.


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