Pani Popo is a mouthwatering sweet bread that’s covered with dollops of creamy coconut sauce. Evoking vague visions of tropical beaches and swaying palm trees (hello, coconut sauce!), this bread comes from the South Pacific island nation of Samoa.
Pani Popo was one of the very first bread recipes that I tried back in 2016. I was new to baking yeast breads at that time, and this Samoan sweet bread seemed the perfect introduction to bread making. I can’t recall how exactly I stumbled across this bread but it was a blessed moment when I did.
What is Pani Popo?
“Pani” equates to buns and “Popo” neatly translates to coconuts in the Samoan language. Et voilà ! Coconut buns! Am I mixing my languages here?
To be perfectly truthful, its name has always struck me as a little bit funny and reminded me of the Dragon Ball character, Mr. Popo. I’m pretty sure Mr. Popo would love to have some of these.
So it’s by no means a long stretch to assume that somehow coconuts are involved in this recipe. Well, I can confirm that coconuts are indeed involved and in such a starring role too!
You see, what separates the Pani Popo from the rest of the sweet bread buns is the addition of the sugary coconut sauce to the buns just before (and possibly even after) baking.
The sauce is a thickened mixture of coconut milk (or cream) and sugar. It’s poured over the dough balls after the second rising. It’s basically drenched in the sauce and then baked for 20 minutes or so. It smells as good as it tastes.
Once the bread is taken out of the oven, what else is there to do but pour another helping of coconut sauce over the freshly baked buns? I made an extra helping of the sauce just for this purpose.
Give me some!
I used my trusty base recipe for breads (the one I use for my super soft pandesal recipe) but with a few changes. First, I cut the amount of milk by a fourth – I didn’t want a sticky dough this time. But don’t worry, it doesn’t affect the taste at all. Second, I substituted coconut milk for some of the milk. Hey, Pani Popo literally means coconut buns and it would be remiss of me not to. It’s not overpowering the bread by the way, but it adds a little more dimension to the taste.
As I mentioned earlier, I made an extra batch of sauce to pour over the Pani Popo. This is entirely optional; you can use half of the sauce before baking and reserve the other half for serving. Oh, and if you’re using coconut cream instead of coconut milk, you’d might want to use a a little bit less cornstarch.Print