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Rarotongan Coconut Rolls

As Robert Oliver says in his book Me’a Kai “the Rarotongan Coconut Roll is what the Hot Dog is to the American”. Unfortunately I only discovered this on our last day in Raro, we obviously hadn’t been visiting the right Dairy’s (corner shop for non Kiwi’s) and only managed to sample one. It was very tasty with the coconut shredded through the swirl of sweet dough but it was lacking in the sticky coconut sauce I later discovered the traditional ones are baked with. Never one to miss out on anything, particularly when it is food related, my mission this weekend was to make the true coconut rolls with lashings of coconut and coconut sauce and since it was so close to Easter I decided we would have these instead of hot cross buns this year. I have used the recipe from Me’a Kai.

The coconut sauce the rolls are baked with really does complete the bun, giving it a sticky sweet exterior so don’t skip this bit thinking you might want to reduce the coconut content, if you are going to eat them you have to have them with their full calorie count to appreciate them. I found them quite irresistible, perfect breakfast food with a strong coffee.

Ingredients – makes 12 large rolls

4 cups flour
1 cup of grated fresh coconut (or 1 cup of desiccated coconut mixed with 1/2 cup of coconut milk)
2 tbsp soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp active yeast (8g sachet)

Ingredients – Coconut Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup grated coconut ( or 1/4 cup desiccated coconut)
1 tsp cornflour

Method – Roll

Pre-heat oven to 180C
Mix the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup warm water and put aside for a few minutes.
Put the flour, butter and coconut in a large bowl and combine.
Add the yeast, sugar and water to the flour and knead for 8 minutes. If the mix is too sticky add some more flour. It should be like a bread dough.
Shape dough into a log and divide into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a 20m log.
Coil each one into a roll shape and place onto a deep floured baking tray a few centimeters apart.
Cover with a cloth and rest in a warm place till doubled in size.
Meanwhile make the coconut glaze by putting all the ingredients in a small pan and whisking together to combine the cornflour.
Place pan over a low heat and cook for a few minutes until the liquid thickens.
Once the rolls have doubled in size, pour over half the coconut glaze and place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and pour the rest of the glaze over the rolls and serve warm.

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yuuum! Have recently been on a coconut appreciation streak, but mainly in terms of trying to perfect a home made green curry. So many sweet versions I want to make!

    April 16, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      I know what you mean, we have been using a lot of coconut lately and I had a craving for a good Laksa but haven’t eaten one yet.

      April 17, 2011
  2. Natalia Rivera #

    Wouldn’t this be more akin to what the cinnamon roll or sticky bun is to the American?

    April 16, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      I think Robert was referring to the fact the America is famous for it’s hot dogs and for the Rarotongans the Coconut has the same status! But I get what your saying about the sweeter things but I suppose we don’t really consider the cinnamon bun or sticky bun typically American. Hope younget to try these rolls out :0)

      April 17, 2011
  3. I love them! I had them in Raro, but also in Samoa, everyday for breakfast :-).

    See you tomorrow


    April 16, 2011
  4. Looks so yummy! I might want to bake one myself soon.

    April 17, 2011
  5. These look like a very acceptable substitute for hot cross buns! And I want to pour that coconut glaze over everything. Looks perfect.

    April 17, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      Yes the coconut glaze is really good, there was quite a bit so i saved some to dunk my roll in for those extra calories :o)

      April 17, 2011
  6. Pani popo? Yes please! These look heavenly…

    April 18, 2011
  7. These look amazing! The ingredients are similar to these Korean coconut buns I once made, but your rolls are that times 10. Gorgeous, mouth watering photo too!

    April 18, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      Thanks Lisa Michelle, hubby thought it fun to pour the sauce while I clicked away, first time I have tried an action shot but had taken a few shots prior just in case ;0)

      April 19, 2011
  8. These look amazing–I can’t wait to try them! That extra sauce may just adorn everything until it’s gone!

    April 24, 2011
  9. kelly #

    I have the recipe book Me’a Kai and made these buns and they are the WORLDS best!
    The only thing I am thinking of tweaking, and please tell me if I am wrong, I may suggested using self raising flour or maybe adding some baking powder??, try to make them a little fluffier?
    What are your thoughts on this???
    I am making some in the morning for my mother in law for mothers day, I will post feed back on the baking powder.
    Happy Mothers day !

    May 7, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      They are quite dense being a yeast dough, you could spread them out a bit more and let them rise to over twice original size and that might make them lighter. I’m going to try that next time. Let me know the results if you do tweak them.

      May 9, 2011
    • My mother uses self-rising flower when she makes pani popo and they are soooo fluffy and delicious!! 🙂

      July 21, 2011
      • peasepudding #

        Is that as well as yeast? I would be interested to try that, I do love these rolls and always search them out when in Rarotonga

        July 22, 2011
  10. Jahzz #

    This is one of my favourite yummy treats I look for when visiting my family on Rarotonga or any of the family/relatives in NZ.

    When I find one that is moist, medium/light…dripping with warm coconut sauce (sweetened)…I prefer to add two vanilla ice cream scoop to it with the don’t disturb sign up!

    Thanks for sharing 😉

    PS: Can be evolved into a perfect desert with touches of either fresh banana slices or few raspberry (balance taste of sweet/tangy approach)…and of course the famous white/brown chocolates & complimentary ice creams for Pure indulgence, followed by a satisfying fitness session much later… 🙂

    March 1, 2012
  11. Colette #

    Thanks for the recipe. Our school are making dishes from all over the world to celebrate the Olympic Games. We went to the Cook Islands for our honeymoon so I’m happy I can share a little of the Cook Islands with the kids in Australia.

    July 23, 2012
    • peasepudding #

      I love these rolls and we are lucky to have family in Raro and visit there often. I hope the school enjoys them. Perhaps you can make them in half the size rolls for the kids, stretch the recipe further too and they are quite filling.

      July 24, 2012
  12. stacey #

    ok fine…you got me i have to try these now! lol as in right now!!! im going to the kitchen as soon as i finish typing this to give them a go lol….

    May 21, 2013
    • stacey #

      Oh my goodness im in LOVE!!!! these are amazing i think iv nearly eaten the lot lol they hardly look like the picture lol but yuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      May 21, 2013
      • peasepudding #

        Hi Stacey, so glad you enjoyed them! I must make a few again myself

        May 23, 2013
  13. I’m really keen to try these, but I can’t find anywhere that says the temp of the oven. thanks

    August 1, 2013
    • Stacey #

      Hi jacqui! I just put mine in on 150 degrees celcius on bake =)

      August 5, 2013
    • peasepudding #

      Sorry Jacqui, cant believe I missed that, I have now updated the post. Thanks Stacey for adding a reply. I bake mine on 180C. Happy Coconut Roll eating :o)

      August 6, 2013
      • Thanks for that, I did bake them at 180, they were a hit,

        August 6, 2013

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