These pillowy soft bread buns are rich with the flavor and aroma of coconut and pandan! This nostalgic Southeast Asian flavor combination tastes even better hot and fresh from the oven. For this recipe, I add a little twist by combining coconut milk and pandan with my pandesal recipe!
Pandan and Coconut in Southeast Asian Cuisine
I’ve been growing my own pandan leaves in my garden and have been making a lot of pandan juice and extract – it’s so therapeutic and very easy. So you might also notice that I’ve been working on a lot of recipes featuring pandan! And through my research, I keep finding the combination of coconut and pandan flavors all over Southeast Asian cuisine.
In my own life, coconut and pandan are nostalgic flavors to me because of my Vietnamese heritage. In fact, this recipe is similar to Banh Mi Ngot Dua La Dua, or Vietnamese pandan coconut milk bread. But there are so many examples of this flavor combination in Malaysian, Thai, and Filipino cuisine too.
From Malaysia, one example is Kuih Dadar or coconut pandan crepes with a palm sugar filling. In Thailand, you can find steamed coconut pandan cake (Khanom Chan), which is a chewy layered cake with a lovely pattern of green and white stripes. In the Philippines, Filipinos eat Buko Pandan, which features pandan flavored agar-agar and sweetened coconut milk.So as you can see, the flavors of coconut and pandan together are really special for us Southeast Asians!
Today, I’m showing you my recipe for bread buns (or pandesal) flavored with mellow pandan and rich coconut milk. They are inspired by my own Vietnamese heritage as well as the heritage of my Filipino friends. I hope you enjoy it!
What is Buko? What Does Buko Taste Like?
Though often considered as interchangeable, what Filipinos call “buko” is slightly different from the coconut we know. Buko is actually young coconut – a coconut in its green stage. The taste is more refreshing and slightly less sweet, but still distinctly coconut-y.
Since I don’t have access to buko flavoring, this recipe uses coconut milk to achieve the same taste for the bread! I like to call it buko pandan pandesal because the flavor mimics the Filipino dessert I talked about earlier.
My Filipino friends have also told me it reminds them of Regent pandan cake, a very aromatic mini sponge cake from their childhood. So if you’d like to capture this flavor for yourself – without the preservatives and colorants – you might enjoy my recipe!
What to Eat WithPandan Coconut Milk Bread / BukoPandanPandesal
Just like my ube and cheese pandesal recipe, these fluffy bread buns are best enjoyed fresh and hot out of the oven! Pair them with a warm drink like coffee or hot chocolate for a deliciously cozy breakfast or afternoon treat.
If you’re making them in the summer or during hot weather, a glass of cold coconut milkshake (maybe with a few drops of pandan extract?) would be a great way to echo the flavors in the bread. Enjoy!
Pandan Coconut Milk Bread Recipe
- 350 grams Bread Flour
- 1 packet InstantDry Yeast (7grams)
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- 5 TBSP Sugar
- ¾ Cup Coconut Milk
- 20 ml Pandan Juice
- 1 Egg
- 2 TBSP Softened Butter
- 1 TBSP Corn Starch
- Combine dry ingredients.
- Combine Coconut Milk, Pandan Juice and Egg – mix.
- Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead dough in standing mixer at low speed setting until all ingredients are well combined.
- Gradually add the softened butter.
- Once butter has been nicely integrated into the dough, knead on speed setting #4 for about 8 minutes.
- Do the stretch test – if dough stretches without tearing, it is ready.
- Transfer dough in greased bowl.
- Cover and let it rest for 1 hour in the oven with the oven light ON.
- After 1 hour, dough should have doubled in size. Deflate and work air bubbles out.
- Divide dough into 16 portions and shape to desired form.
- Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes in the oven with oven light ON.
- After 30 minutes, take dough out of the oven and pre-heat oven to 320 degrees.
- Sprinkle the dough with Cornstarch before putting in the oven. This will keep the top of the bun from browning too much and you can still see the beautiful green Pandan color.
- Bake 20-22 minutes at 320 degrees. Baking time and baking temperature may very depending on your oven.