I’m quickly finding out just how versatile the basic bread dough is. With the weather warming up, the temperatures are perfect for getting bread to rise, so I’ve been obsessed with bread dough and turning it into bagels and now buns!
Some time ago, before the pandemic, I decided to make a coconut cake that left me with too much coconut. After fixating on it for a while, I took some and made toasted coconut custard. That still left me with a little under half a bag of shredded coconut. I got some good ideas from some very lovely followers on what to do with it, but then the pandemic started and I forgot. Now, about 2 months later, I find myself poking around my kitchen now and then. Okay, every week. Okay! Almost every day. Finding the shredded coconut was inevitable. And I was fixated on the coconut again. Sheesh!
Fortunately, summer decided to come early, as it usually does here in Southern California. The temperatures have been just perfect for rising bread dough, so I’ve been making a lot of bread, but that gets boring after a while. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been to Chinatown, so memories of those coconut and cream rolls I gobbled up as a child have been coming back to haunt me.
Hey, I have coconut! And it turns out buns are just enriched bread dough. I have butter, milk, and eggs on hand all the time, so I just added a stick of butter, a quarter cup of granulated sugar, and a couple of eggs and then replaced the water with milk. Then I added about a cup of shredded coconut. I’ll figure out what to do with the quarter bag of coconut I have left later. You know, in about 2 months.
Making the buns followed the same basic steps for making bread. I know! So easy, right? After kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, it rises until it about doubles in volume. It can take anywhere from an hour to two depending on how warm it is. Just make sure it isn’t too warm! I have a bad habit of forgetting about it, so I usually let my dough rise anywhere from 2 to almost 5 hours. I did that once when I made bagels. Don’t worry; no harm done.
After letting it rise for a couple of hours, or, more accurately, rediscovering it about 2 hours later, I shaped the dough into 6 round buns. Then I had to go run and take care of something for the kids. It might have been a bath or it might have been school. It all blurs together these days. Anyways, I ended up letting the buns rise for another hour. It’s a good thing I gave them plenty of space because they about doubled in size on me!
I turned the oven to 375 because that temperature gives me a really nice soft crust and just enough of a browning to make it look pretty. They baked for about 35-40 minutes and came out beautifully. They were soft and rich and so coconutty. The shredded coconut added a really nice crunch to an otherwise sweet but not too sweet bun.
I just should have made 12 buns instead of 6 because those things were massive!