One of my fondest memories of growing up in the Philippines was coming home from school to a basket of fresh-baked pan de coco from one of our local bakeries. These soft, chewy bread rolls with sweet coconut filling were a favorite of mine and one of the foods I missed most after immigrating to the U.S. So, when I began to make my own bread I had to learn how to make pan de coco, and when I started making sourdough, of course, I wanted to make my own version using my starter.
Pan de coco originated in Honduras and was introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish during the colonial era. While it’s Honduran ancestor incorporates coconut flakes within the dough and can either be savory or sweet, the Filipino version is an enriched bread roll with a sweet, gooey coconut filling in the middle, giving the Filipino version its own distinct identity.
I knew my recipe for Hokkaido milk loaf would work great in this recipe, utilizing the reliable Tangzhong method to create a roll with a pillowy-soft crumb that stays moist for a longer period of time. To pack in more coconut flavor I used coconut milk in the dough and coconut sugar in the filling. However, I’ve used whole milk and brown sugar in the past which also yielded delicious results, I’ve never tried using skim milk so I cannot speak for how that will affect the end result.
I really love using a mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour because it gives bread such a rich nutty flavor. I recently started using bread flour from Azure Standard. All flours offered by Azure Standard are milled using a special method called Unifine, in this process the entire bran, germ and endosperm of the grain are processed into a nutritious fine whole grain flour. Now, I don’t have to stock both bread flour and whole wheat flour in my pantry, to make it even better, this method helps preserve the natural oils in the grain, resulting in a healthier more nutritious flour. If you don’t use Azure (you should), and you’d like to use a mix of flours, substitute 30% whole wheat in your dough mix.
Now onto the recipe!
|85 grams||Coconut milk||566%|
|300 grams||Azure Standard Bread Flour||100%|
|100 grams||Coconut milk or cow’smilk||33%|
|60 grams||White sugar||20%|
|70 grams||Unsalted butter (softened and divided)||23%|
|1||Egg yolk (reserve white for egg wash)||—|
|120 grams||Starter (fed and active)||40%|
|100 grams||Tangzhong mixture||33%|
|102 grams||Unsweetened flaked coconut|
|65 grams||Coconut sugar or brown sugar|
|175 grams||Coconut milk|
|3 tablespoons||Unsalted butter|
|60 grams||Coconut milk|
In a medium-sized pot combine flour and milk from the tangzhong section. Cook over low heat whisking constantly until the mixture forms a thick slurry. Cool completely before combining with the remaining dough ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, coconut milk, cooled tangzhong mixture, sugar, salt, eggs, and starter. Mix until well combined, then let rest for 15 minutes (this will allow dough to relax, reduce its stickiness and make the next steps a bit easier).
After 15 minutes, turn dough mixture out unto a clean surface and knead until it looks smooth, feels strong and passes the windowpane stage. Creating strength in the dough is vital before adding butter as it can impede gluten development. Let dough relax for another 15 minutes.
Knead butter into the dough 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each portion is well combined before continuing to add more.
Form dough into a tight ball. Place into a medium-sized bowl and cover.
Let dough rise at room temperature (75 F/ 23 C). Watch the dough not the clock here, you are looking for at least a 30% increase in the size of your dough, this took 4 hours for me.
After 4 hours knock dough back, form into a tight ball, wrap in cling film and store in refrigerator.
In medium-sized pot, combine unsweetened flaked coconut, coconut sugar, coconut milk, water, and butter. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
Continue cooking until liquid is mostly absorbed (this took quite a long time for me, around 40 minutes over a low flame). Dissolve 1 tablespoon of flour into 60 grams of coconut milk and add to mixture, cook until thick and sticky.
Cool mixture completely. I usually make my filling during bulk fermentation and save overnight so that it will be ready when I bake the next day.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the dough from the fridge, and divide into 16 equal pieces.
Flatten each piece of dough using the palm of your hand or a rolling pin. Place a tablespoon of coconut filling in the middle and fold the edges towards the middle to fully enclose the filling.
Arrange the filled rolls, seam-side down, on a baking sheet leaving enough room for the rolls to properly rise.
Using a fork, poke small holes in the center of each filled dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and proof until puffy (this took about an hour and a half for me).
Towards the end of final proof, preheat your oven to 350 F/176 C.
Brush rolls with reserved egg white. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely browned.
Being able to recreate my the food I love, specially childhood favorites like pan de coco is my ultimate favorite thing about baking. Having all the beneficial qualities of sourdough, makes these even better than the ones from back home.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click-through and make a purchase through Azure Standard, I will earn a small credit at no cost to you.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please be sure to follow my Instagram @MakeItDough for more sourdough and baking ideas. Remember to post a photo and tag me when you make this delicious recipe, I’d love to see your own take on pan de coco!
Try my other sourdough recipes: