In the pre-Starbucks days, the local bakery in any town in the Philippines is the hub of activity at dawn, mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Although rice is the staple food, a bakery is never more than a few yards away from one's home. The daily supply of bread is bought freshly baked in the wood-fired oven of the local panaderia (bakery).
The local bakery, unlike a bake shop, sells bread for the masses. These are the ordinary breads eaten at breakfast and snacks. A trip to the bakery is always a treat. A wide array of breads, cookies and pastries line the glass shelves. It is quite hard deciding which to choose as the aroma of baked bread keeps pointing you in different directions.
Pan de coco is one of the popular breads eaten for snack. It is an inexpensive, everyday bun sold in the local bakeries. Coconut is abundant and available everywhere so is widely used in cooking and baking. The coconut filling is cooked with brown sugar until sticky and caramelized and is used to fill white bread dough. The cross on the top with the filling peeking through characterizes the bun. It is sometimes treated with snobbery as it is poor man's food. This lowly bread is actually delicious but the coconut filling is usually so scant, it probably just lies underneath the x.
This recipe is an updated version of this bread. I chose to use a rich buttery dough for my buns. The sweet caramelized coconut, this time enriched with milk and butter, generously fills the buns. The whole bun tasted so delicious and did not lose the essence of the old fashioned bread. This will go down well with the younger set who are used to bake shop breads.
Yield: 18-20 buns
2 c. fine dessicated coconut
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. condensed milk
2/3 c. of dark brown sugar
2 tbsps. of butter
1 quantity of dough (recipe here)
1 beaten egg for glazing
Cook the coconut, two kinds of milk and the brown sugar together on low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick (about 10 minutes). Leave to cool.
Take 50 gm. portions of the dough and shape into a balll. Stretch the edges to make a flat shape which is thicker in the middle. Fill with a tablespoonful of the coconut filling.
Leave to rise until double in bulk before glazing with egg yolks.
Bake at 340° F/170° C for 15-20 minutes until puffed and browned.
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