Coconut Pandan Rolls and Giveaway Winner!

When I was growing up, we bought bread from the Roti Man (bread man) who came round to the house on a bicycle. He had a huge metal container strapped to the back of his bike filled with breads. The outside of the container hung huge bags of all kinds of goodies from candies, chips, and crackers, to small toys. As you can imagine, his arrival was much anticipated by the kids on the block.

One of my favorite snacks from the Roti Man was coconut buns. These were soft buns filled with a sweet, moist coconut filling, known as “inti”. These buns were very popular and inexpensive. Often times, they would be sold out and there would be a bunch of disappointed kids (myself included) wondering what to get instead. It is not uncommon for the kids to run after the Roti Man to persuade him to stop immediately so that they could get to it first. The poor guy with his heavy load had quite a balancing act to stay on his bike and not fall over. 😀

The coconut filling or “inti” is usually made with freshly grated coconut cooked on the stove with sugar and pandan leaves. After cooking, the filling is moist and brown in color. As I have not seen freshly grated coconut here, I used sweetened coconut flakes found in the baking aisle of the regular grocery stores. Since it is already sweetened, I did not add any more sugar but merely browned it by pan frying. What resulted was dried sweet flakes. If you prefer a moist filling, adding several tablespoons of condensed milk would probably work but it will make the filling really sweet.

The dough of the coconut bun is a plain bread dough but I have some pandan paste that needed to be used and so I added that. I also thought that it might be fun to make it like my rolled Chelsea Buns instead of a regular round bun. I am glad I added the pandan paste as the wonderful aroma of the pandan together with the coconut filled the kitchen. Ro-Ri San and the two boys kept coming to inquire about what was baking in the oven.

Coconut Pandan Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 rolls
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3½ cups (525g) unbleached white bread flour
  • 3 tbsp (42g) butter
  • ¼ cup (55g) sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pandan paste
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp (28g) butter, melted
  • 2 cups (6 oz/170g) sweetened coconut flakes
  1. Pour milk into bread machine pan. Add egg. Sprinkle flour over. Add butter, sugar, salt, and pandan paste in separate corners of bread pan. Make a shallow indentation in the middle of flour and add yeast. Snap bread pan into bread machine and close lid. Set bread machine to dough setting. Press the start button.
  2. While dough is in the bread machine, dry fry sweetened coconut flakes on medium heat until golden brown, stirring constantly. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. Grease a 9 inch square cake pan. When dough cycle is complete, remove dough from machine and place it on a lightly floured surface. Punch down gently and roll into a 15 inch square. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with filling. Roll up dough like a jelly roll. The roll may elongate a little.
  4. Cut into 12 pieces and place cut side up in prepared pan. They should be placed close together but not touching so as to leave room for it to rise.
  5. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 to 45 minutes or until pieces of dough touch each other.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake buns for 20 - 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly in pan before turning onto wire rack.
You can hand knead or use a stand mixer to knead the dough if you prefer. Mix all dough ingredients together and knead until a smooth soft dough forms. Allow it to rise for and hour to an hour and a half or until almost double in size. Hand kneading will probably take 10 to 15 minutes while the stand mixer will take about 5 to 7 minutes.


Commenter number 20 is Namitha! Congrats Namitha! You are the winner of a copy of Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji. Please e-mail me with your address so that I can forward it to the publisher. Thank you all for participating in the giveaway. A very special thank you also to Lee & Low Books for their generosity.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)

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    • Biren says

      It is so good that you can get fresh coconut in the UK. I sometimes see small whole coconuts here but it is too difficult to grate them without the right tools. Some recipes just taste better with freshly grated coconut.

    • Biren says

      Yes, the aroma was wonderful! The coconut also contributed as they were very fragrant when I was frying them. I think you will like these as they are not that sweet.

  1. says

    Thanks Biren. I’m sure my kids will enjoy this cute book :-)

    The rolls look fantabulous.I could smell it here 😉 The sweet coconut filling must have been great !

    • Biren says

      Congrats Namitha! I think your kids will enjoy the book. It has very nice illustrations and the story is very heart warming. :)

  2. says

    Ahhh Biren! Always delicious recipes. How come I don’t live close to you or none of my friends can make food like you! (there is no option here that I cook like you) Great recipes and the coconut sprinkles just made this dish 120% for me.

    • Biren says

      Thanks Nami, you are always so sweet! You are a good cook and your dishes are so mouth watering. I would be happy to have you as my neighbor. :)

      Coconut is good in so many things including bread and other baked goods. I just love the taste.

    • Biren says

      Hi Pepy, thanks for visiting! Those were the good ‘ol days. It was a joy when Mom allowed us some coins to buy snacks (or junk food) from the Roti Man. :)

  3. says

    These coconut Pandan rolls look marvelous, Biren. I love the green colour that the pandan adds to this dough. The coconut flakes kind of look like bonito flakes from far away. What a great combo for a dessert bun. These are like the Asian bad boys of cinnamon buns. Teehee.

  4. says

    I really missed this a lot and this coconut pandan roll is not easy to find in most bakery shops nowaday. I think it is time to take out my bread machine from the store room. Hope the machine still works :)

    • Biren says

      You can always hand knead or use the stand mixer but I like the convenience of the bread machine as I do not have time to babysit the dough. I use mine 2 to 3 times each week as I almost never buy store bought bread.

      I will be making these again real soon as the family loves it. I made it less sweet so that it can be eaten even for breakfast.

  5. says

    What a great combination. My piano teacher always used to make too many pandan buns and share them with me -one of the main reason I love going to lessons. I’ve got to remember to tell her to add coconut!

  6. says

    PRINTING it NOW! is a must try recipe! though it does not sound easy (to me) but i hope i can do it as nice and yummy as yours! it look really soft, fluffy and flavouful. (:

  7. says

    This makes me so sad that I left my pandan extract back at home. I do love pandan flavored stuff! I’ve never heard of pandan paste though!

    • Biren says

      Hey Sophia, I heard from my Vietnamese friend that it can be purchased at the Vietnamese grocery stores. I have yet to check it out but will have to do so soon as my tiny bottle won’t last long. Check out this post for a picture of what it looks like. The one I bought is made in Indonesia and it is very fragrant. I did not know pandan paste existed until recently. It is much, much better than the extract. I bought mine last summer during my vacation.

  8. says

    Congrats to the winner! Oh Biren, you just brought me back to my childhood memories. Remembering in older days, there’s really not much choices of bread available. And the best sweet flavouring bread from the roti men was those coconut bread. And its still warm in the box they carrying around. Thanks for sharing. Hope you’re having a great weekend.
    Blessings, Kristy

    • Biren says

      Weren’t those coconut buns just the best? These days you will probably have to go to a bakery to get them. There are lots of cinnamon buns here, but not coconut buns. I will have to contiue making my own.

  9. says

    i love how green your bread looks! so appetizing! i’m a pandan lover. i remember rotiman. now in my taman they cannot enter because of the guardhouse. miss the noise so much. haha

    • Biren says

      I miss the Roti Man too. They do a great sevice by bringing the bread to your doorstep. It’s too bad that they can’t come to your place now.

      I just made another pan of this bread as everyone liked it. Just had one for breakfast. :)

  10. says

    You kncoked it out of the bal park with these Biren – You leave me speechless with these wonderful flavors and lovely memories….I so want one now with the cup of coffee I am sipping as I read this.

    lovely pics as well :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  11. says

    Hi Biren,

    Glad that I stumbled upon your blog today. Like you, I spent my childhood in Malaysia and am currently living in US Northeast with my husband and family. I will be exploring your blog to “pinjam” some of your recipes.


    • Biren says

      Hi Reese, so nice of you to visit. :) It is so nice to “meet” you and I hope you will visit often and leave comments.

  12. says

    Oh I remember this too while growing up! But I always felt it was too sweet and a challenge to finish one on my own 😉 I guess living away from home makes people create the smallest memory of childhood :)

  13. says

    How very pretty!! You know I love pandan! Grated coconut and palm sugar make a gorgeous filling for buns and pulut based treats!

    I too had a “mamak roti” who came into the kampung every afternoon on his wobbly and ridiculously laden bicycle, honking his horn to alert the kampung kids 😀 He really was like the Pied Piper of our kampung. My favourites were the sweet coconut buns,the milky suji biscuits and the colourful slices of red and green cherry cake LOL Those were simple but unforgetable times…

    • Biren says

      YES!! Thanks for reminding me of those sugee biscuits. I love sugee biscuits and cakes. I would have made a sugee cake if not for the heart stopping amount of eggs required in the recipe. I’ll have to track down a sugee biscuit recipe or else come up with my own. Each time I go to the Indian grocery store, I am so tempted to buy a bag of sugee but have put it off thus far. Maybe it is time to bring a bag home. 😉

    • Biren says

      Thanks Julie! It is a little like vanilla, only more fragrant and floral. Pandan or screwpine leaves are used a lot in Southeast Asian cooking, from savory dishes to desserts.

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