Enjoy an authentic taste of the Pacific Islands with this traditional coconut rolls recipe!
3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk powder**
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
*note: If you can’t find coconut milk powder, use enough canned coconut milk and water to make 1 1/4 cups of liquid.
Mix and knead the dough ingredients together by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle until you’ve made a smooth dough. If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a soft, smooth ball.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Rising may take longer, especially if you’ve kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
While the dough is rising, grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 12 pieces.
Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom, then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.
Place the rolls in the pan, spacing them evenly; they won’t touch one another. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise, about 45 to 60 minutes. About halfway through the rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.
During the last 20 minutes of rising, prepare the coconut sauce. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour the warm, thick sauce over the risen buns and bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 25 minutes, until the buns are golden brown on top and the internal temperature registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Serve the warm buns from the pan, scooping up the thick sauce with a spoon. The coconut milk will form a thin, chewy, intensely coconut skin on top of the buns (Optional).