Soft and fluffy Chinese steamed buns are filled with sweetened grated coconut filling (inti kelapa).
BAKPAO ISI KELAPA
The mention of this steamed buns with sweet coconut filling reminds me of childhood. Dad bought these steamed buns with coconut filling so often because they were his favorite. Coconut is not really Chinese, but this version of steamed buns with coconut filling is popular in Indonesia. We call it bakpao (steamed buns) isi (filled with) kelapa (grated coconut meat in this case).
TYPE OF COCONUT TO USE
I usually get the frozen unsweetened grated coconut from the Asian grocery store. This type is considered “wet” with nice coconut aroma. You can also use dry unsweetened coconut flakes or dessicated coconut. These are dry and so need to be rehydrated with some coconut milk as the coconut flavor is not as strong anymore.
THE COCONUT FILLING
There are two different versions of coconut fillings I know of. The first one is cooked with regular white fine sugar and has that pale white appearance. The second one is cooked with Indonesian palm sugar (gula Jawa) or we call it coconut sugar here. The second version is much darker in color, dark brown to be exact, because of the palm sugar. I love both versions equally. My version here is the one with coconut sugar or we call it inti kelapa.
WHY YOU WILL LIKE THIS RECIPE
1. The steamed buns dough is much quicker to make and soooo soft !!!
I used to proof the dough twice. Now, I only proof the steamed buns dough once and that doesn’t even take that long
2. Easy to make coconut filling
The filling is really very easy to make without much fuss. The level of sweetness can be adjusted to your liking
HOW TO MAKE COCONUT FILLING (INTI KELAPA)
Mix all the ingredients for the filling. Place this over a medium-size skillet and stir-fry for over medium heat for about 2 minutes or so. The sugar will start to dissolve and the mixture will be “wetter”. Stir fry again until the mixture is dry.
Sprinkle in all-purpose flour and stir to mix
Remove from heat and let it cool down completely and then roll into round balls for easier wrapping
HOW TO MAKE COCONUT STEAMED BUNS
1. START WITH BASIC STEAMED BUNS DOUGH AND COCONUT FILLING
I used the same basic soft and fluffy steamed buns recipe in this recipe too.
2. WRAP AND SHAPE
Flatten the dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to form a circle about 4-5 inches, with a slightly thicker middle part
For round shape: Place about 1 to 2 Tbsp of coconut filling in the middle and gather the edge to enclose into a round ball and place the seam side down
For flower pattern: Create a fold around the edge and then pinch to seal in the middle
3. PROOF ONLY ONCE
Let the shaped buns proof until about 50% double its original size at room temperature or warmer place in the winter. They don’t have to double in size. This may take about 15-20 minutes, but please don’t go by the time, just observe to make sure the buns have puffed up to half its original size before steaming or the buns will be tough. Don’t overproof them as well.
Bring water in the steamer to a boil first, then lower the heat to LOW (not medium). Wrap the lid of your steamer with a kitchen towel to prevent moisture dripping on your buns creating burn spots. Place the buns inside the steamer and steam for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and wait 1 minute before opening the lid
DID YOU MAKE THIS COCONUT STEAMED BUNS RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
CHECK OUT THIS OTHER STEAMED BUNS RECIPES
MOMOFUKU FOLD-OVER STEAMED BUNS
DOU SHA BAO
CHAR SIU BAO
CHINESE PORK STEAMED BUNS (BAK PAO)
LONGEVITY PEACH STEAMED BUNS
SOFT FLUFFY CHINESE WHOLE WHEAT STEAMED BUNS
The recipe was originally published in 2013 and has been updated with an improved recipe and new photos.
Please weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.
Preparing the coconut filling (can be prepared one day ahead):
- Mix all the ingredients for the filling. Place this over a medium-size skillet and stir-fry for over medium heat for about 2 minutes or so. The sugar will start to dissolve and the mixture will be "wetter". Stir fry again until the mixture is dry. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of all-purpose flour and stir to mix. The filling will be more "sticky" and easier to roll into balls for wrapping later on. Remove from heat and let it cool down completely before wrapping
Preparing the dough with a machine:
- Place the flour, instant yeast, sugar, and cooking oil in a mixing bowl. If you are using a stand mixer, use a dough hook attachment. Gradually add in milk or water. You may need more than 150 ml or not. Add more teaspoon by teaspoon until the dough comes together and continue to knead for 5 minutes. Then add in salt and knead again until dough is smooth
- Preparing the dough by hands:
- If you are kneading by hands, mix until you get a rough dough (it's not going to be smooth yet). Cover and rest it for 15 minutes. Then go back and knead it. You'll be surprised by how easier it is to knead it now. Knead until the dough is smooth and pliable, about 10-15 minutes. At any point during kneading, you can always stop and rest the dough if you find it hard to knead. This is to relax the gluten. Then go back to knead again and you'll be surprised by the difference it makes by just resting the dough before kneading again. It's easier for you too
- Resting the dough:
- Cover and rest the dough for 15 minutes. This is not to proof the dough. It shouldn't double in size. This is to relax the gluten for easier shaping and rolling the dough
- Lightly dust your work surface with cake flour. Not too much. If you use a silicon pastry mat, you may not even need to dust with flour. Divide the dough into 15 equal portions. Keeping the dough covered and work with one dough at a time
- Then roll the dough into a smooth round ball in between the palm of your hand or as I did in the video. REALLY make sure the dough is smooth. Flatten the dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to form a circle about 4-5 inches, with a slightly thicker middle part
- FOR ROUND SHAPE: Place about 1 to 2 Tbsp of coconut filling in the middle and gather the edge to enclose into a round ball and place the seam side down. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This part is important so your steamed buns come out tall instead of spreading to the side after steaming
- Place on a piece of parchment paper. Lightly dab the surface of the bun with some milk using your finger to smooth the surface. Loosely cover with a saran wrapper to prevent drying. Work with another dough and do the same
- IF YOU WANT TO CREATE A FLOWER PATTERN: Place the filling in the middle. Create a fold around the edge and then pinch to seal in the middle. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This part is important so your steamed buns come out tall instead of spreading to the side after steaming
- Let the shaped buns proof until about 50% double its original size. They don't have to double in size. This may take about 15-20 minutes, but please don't go by the time, just observe to make sure the buns have puffed up to half its original size before steaming or the buns will be tough. Don't overproof them as well.
- Most likely your steamer won't be able to accommodate steaming all buns at one go. You may need to steam in 2-3 batches, which means, the rest of the batches will sit longer and continue to proof while waiting for the steamer. Not good for the buns! Here's what you can do: Make sure the cover them with plastic wrap and then place them in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity or halt it all together until they are ready to be steamed
- Bring water in the steamer to a boil first, then lower the heat to LOW (not medium). Wrap the lid of your steamer with a kitchen towel to prevent moisture dripping on your buns creating burn spots. Place the buns inside the steamer and steam for 5 minutes
- Turn off the heat. Do not open the lid of the steamer. Let the buns sit there for 1 minute like this. The buns will not sink or wrinkle due to the sudden change in temperature. Transfer to cooling rack to let them cool down so the bottom of the buns won't be wet and soggy
- If you make extra and plan to store them, once the steamed buns have cooled down, place them on a baking sheet not touching each other and put them inside the freezer for 1 hour then transfer to a freezer bag
- They can be reheated in the steamer without thawing. Steam over high heat for 5 minutes
- You can add more sugar if you like it sweeter
- If using dry coconut flakes, add 100-150 ml of coconut milk when you cook the coconut filling
- You can also replace all 300 gr of all-purpose flour with cake flour or premixed Hongkong/Vietnamese bao flour and omit the wheat starch/corn starch.
Check out this Soft and Fluffy No-Yeast Chinese Steamed Buns. These are so good and super easy to make!