Coconut Buns

I do a lot of practical baking, but then I sometimes see these recipes that are purely for pleasure and they look so enticing, and I’m so curious about how they will turn out that I can’t shake it out of my head until I make it. This is one of those. I was collecting recipes for a class I was teaching when I came across it, and I had never heard or thought of this idea–a cinnamon bun with a coconut mixture. But it sounded so great, and really, after making it, it was so great. So, here’s a fun way to spend a weekend morning if you find yourself being a little homebound lately! I found the recipe in a Bake Magazine from Spring 2018.

Coconut Buns 
Makes 12
Recipe by Ben Mims

  • 1¼ c. (300 grams) warm unsweetened canned coconut milk (120°F/48°C to 130°F/54°C)
  • ⅓ c. (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 T. (28 grams) unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 t. (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 large egg (50 grams), lightly beaten
  • 4 c. (500 grams) all-purpose flour (I replaced 1 1/2 c. with whole wheat)
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) instant yeast (2 1/4 t.)
  • ½ c. (25 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Coconut Filling (recipe follows)
  • Coconut Icing (recipe follows)
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine warm coconut milk, sugar, melted coconut oil, salt, and egg. Add flour and yeast, and beat at low speed until a dough forms. Increase mixer speed to medium, and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread coconut flakes on a baking sheet, and bake, stirring halfway through, until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer coconut to a bowl, and let cool completely. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan with butter.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Spread Coconut Filling over dough, leaving a ½-inch border on one long side. Starting with opposite long side, roll dough into a tight log. Trim ends, and cut into 12 rounds. Transfer rounds, cut side up, to prepared pan, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight (or let rolls rise at room temperature for 1½ hours).
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  5. Uncover rolls, and bake until puffed and golden brown throughout, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Drizzle with Coconut Icing while still warm, and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes before serving.

Coconut Filling

  • 1 c. (84 grams) finely shredded dried (desiccated) coconut
  • 1 c. (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ c. (110 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 c. (360 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 t. (4 grams) coconut extract
  • 1 t. (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • ½ t. (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread coconut on a baking sheet, and bake, stirring halfway through, until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool completely.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, extracts, and salt; beat until smooth. Reserve ½ cup filling for Coconut Icing. Stir toasted coconut into remaining filling. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Coconut Icing

  • ½ cup Coconut Filling (recipe precedes)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsweetened canned coconut milk
  1. In a small bowl, stir together Coconut Filling and coconut milk. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Homemade Naan Bread

Layers of NaanAgain, I was surprised how easy this recipe is. It takes a few hours to raise, but just stirs together and then there isn’t a second raising time, like most breads. Definitely makes a curry better! I got this recipe from the blog, everybodylikessandwiches. (and thanks to that blogger!) Note my alternate way to bake the breads–I really like the result

Naan Bread

(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)
2 t. instant yeast
2 T. milk
2 T. yogurt
1 T. sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 1/2 c. water
2 t. salt
canola oil, for the bowl
4 T. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. sesame seeds (black or white)

Stir together the yeast, milk, yogurt and sugar and set aside. In another large bowl, combine the flours, egg, and salt together, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the yeast mixture until combined and start adding in the water a little at a time until the dough forms into a slightly sticky ball.

Knead the dough for a few seconds right in the bowl until the dough becomes a bit smoother. Add a bit of oil to the bottom of the bowl and roll the dough ball around in it, and around the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 500F and put a baking sheet on the lowest rack. [I heated the broiler instead, with my baking stone about 6 inches away from the broiler}.]

Punch down the dough and then break the dough into 2 balls. Dust your board or table lightly with flour and roll one ball into a snake, then break into 6 small balls. Repeat with the other larger ball of dough until you have 12 smaller balls of dough. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll out each ball into an oval shape and add it to the hot baking sheet. Flip the naan bread after 3 minutes. [If you do this under the broiler, like I do, it only takes 90 seconds on the first side, and 60 seconds on the reverse.] The naan is ready when it’s puffed up slightly and is mottled with golden spots. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and garlic and brush freshly baked naan with the garlic butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


The Best Crescent Roll!

Crescent RollI’ve worked with the Best Recipe’s Crescent Roll recipe several times, and besides from not having a plastic bag large enough to fit around my baking sheets (is this a normal kitchen item?), I just haven’t been that thrilled with the results. So, I tried Martha’s recipe from her New Classics Living Cookbook, and it is a winner! I love it. And, since everyone was counting out how many everyone else got at the dinner table (and coveting the remainders), I think others shared the sentiment. Definitely my new favorite Sunday (or Thanksgiving and Holiday) roll, and my kids love shaping them together, too.

Crescent Rolls

  • 3/4 c.(1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for bowl and plastic wrap, plus 2 T. melted
  • 1 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 T. sugar
  • 2 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 c. water (105 degrees to 110 degrees)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  1.  Butter a large bowl; set aside. Put milk, shortening, sugar, softened butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely.
  2. Put yeast and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Mix in milk mixture on medium speed until combined; mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour. Raise speed to medium-high; mix until a soft dough forms, about 12 minutes.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes, then transfer to buttered bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into a 13-by-20-inch rectangle. Trim edges to be straight. Cut dough in half lengthwise; cut both strips into 12 triangles (about 3 inches wide each base). Gently stretch each to 2 to inches long. Starting at widest end, gently roll up. Space 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets, pointed ends down. Cover loosely with buttered plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush rolls with the melted butter. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 5 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 24.

Crescent Roll 1

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I’ve been making this loaf for our daily bread lately, and the kids and I are all big fans (I actually prefer a multigrain loaf, but since I’m not the only one

I dust the top with flour before baking (instead of brushing with butter) because I like how it looks.

in the house . . .). This recipe is from The Best Recipe (i.e. the best cookbook, ever), and it’s the oatmeal variation on the American Sandwich loaf. I make it almost weekly, and its biggest danger is that it can really grow if you get distracted (or start talking to a friend), and then it turns into a puffed monster. But really, that’s not so bad. All in all, a family favorite. I’ve tripled the original amounts because our family of six goes through about 3 loaves a week, which is what I make. I loved that Lucy came home last week and said, “Mom, I love Mondays because I come home to the most delicious smell.” Her comment was definitely more satisfying than my bread.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
Makes 3 loaves

2 1/4 c. rolled oats [I’ve also used steel cut oats; the final texture was chewier, and it threw the water ratio, but worked]
2 1/4 c. water, warm
3 c. milk, warm
6 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. + 1 T. honey
7 1/2 c. flour, plus more for workspace
2 T. instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 T. salt

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the oats to soften slightly, about 90 seconds (longer for steel cut–I cooked them for about 15). Remove from heat, and set aside to cool while assembling the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, honey, yeast, and butter. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 4 cups flour, cooled oatmeal mixture, and salt together using the dough hook. [Test the temperature: if it’s too hot, you may want to wait until you add the yeast, so you don’t kill it. If you’re unsure, test it. It shouldn’t be above 115 degrees F). Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour in the milk mixture. Mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed, then add the rest of the flour, 1/2 c. at a time, until the the dough clears the sides of the bowl, but still sticks to the bottom.

Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. If after 4 minutes, more flour is needed, add remaining 1 T. at a time, and then wait for 30 seconds before adding more, checking that the dough starts clearing the sides of the bowl.

Once dough is smooth and elastic, remove and knead by hand for about 30 seconds to form a smooth round ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Once dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured workspace and press into a 7-inch square. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll it into a tight cylinder, tucking the ends in but maintaining the cylinder shape. Pinch the seam closed (I also tuck the two sides into the middle, to create a nice dome on the top, then turn it over) and place seam side down in a 9-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.

Half an hour before baking, place an oven rack in the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush top of dough with 1 tsp. melted butter. Fill another loaf pan halfway with water and place on rack in oven. Place dough filled loaf pan next to water filled pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until bread is golden and an instant-read thermometer measures at 200 degrees. [I usually skip the water; it makes a fantastic crisp crust, but since I freeze two of the three loaves and stick them all in bread bags, I kill the purpose of the water. If you want an awesome loaf out of the oven, though, you’ll want to do it.]

Let bread cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. If freezing the extra loaves, make sure they cool at room temperature for 4 hours before wrapping them and placing them in the freezer.