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Aug 16, 2022

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns

These Hong Kong-Style inside out coconut buns are made with a soft and fluffy milk bread swirled with a buttery coconut filling. 

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns on a plate and in a bowl.

These buns are made with a soft and springy enriched dough spread with a delicious sweet, rich, and buttery coconut filling and then twisted so that you get a taste of the filling in every bite. 

They are called "inside out" because they take the usual "coctail bun" filling, which is typically encased in the center of the bun, and distributes it throughout the roll. I love the swirly look of these, and even better, the flavor. 

The dough is a dream to work with and so easy to roll out and shape too. They are like the Chinese version of Kardemummabullar from Sweden or Sfoof from Lebanon. After all, bread is universal.  

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns on a cake plate.

Ingredients in these Coconut Buns

Bread flour: I prefer King Arthur. It's high in protein and is unbleached. 

Yeast: You can use either instant or active dry yeast with this recipe on a one-to-one basis. 

Milk powder: I used King Arthur's Baker's Special Dry Milk

Unsweetened coconut flakes: If you can only find sweetened coconut, cut back on the sugar in the filling. 

Pantry ingredients: You will also need butter, sugar, and eggs for both the dough and the filling, plus vanilla for the filling and salt for the dough. I used unsalted butter in the dough and salted butter in the filling. 

Vanilla Bean Paste: The recipe also calls for vanilla bean paste for the filling, but if you don't have it, pure vanilla extract will work just fine. I love the little flecks of vanilla seeds in Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean paste

Turmeric: The recipe also includes a bit of turmeric in the filling, mostly as a coloring agent, but this is not traditional and is completely optional. 

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns shaping demonstration.

How to Make These Inside Out Coconut Buns:

First, make the dough by mixing flour, milk, sugar, yeast, powdered milk, salt, melted butter, and and egg with a stand mixer and then let it rise until doubled, which will take about an hour. 

While the dough is rising, mix the coconut, some sugar, melted butter, egg yolk, and vanilla bean paste for the filling. Refrigerate it for about 20 minutes. It should come together but still be spreadable. 

Next, divide the dough into six pieces and form them into balls. Roll each ball out into a rectangle and spread some of the filling over one half of the rectangle, lengthwise. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and then cut three slits, lengthwise, in the dough. After a few experiments with different knives, I found that a pizza wheel worked best to cut the dough without causing any drag. 

After that, stretch the dough out, lengthwise, twist it from either short end, and then tie it into a knot to form a roll. Alternatively, you could roll up the dough into a log, cut it in half lengthwise, and then braid and twist it like you would a babka before rolling it into a knotted roll. 

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns shaped on a sheet pan.

At this point, place the shaped rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap to rise for about an hour. 

Finally, brush the rolls with an egg wash and bake them in a 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. 

Coconut buns on black plates.

While I made these buns in one day, you can make the dough the night before and refrigerate it overnight. You can also make the filling in advance, but you will need to let it soften before you use it. 

What to Do with Leftover Coconut Buns:

You can keep the buns at room temperature in an airtight container for a couple of days. They are great re-warmed in a 325 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. 

While probably not traditional, I love having these with a cup of coffee and a bit of blueberry jam sent to me from my dear friend Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm

You can also individually wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to a month. 

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns on a shell plate and in a bowl.

While I've provided measurements in both grams and volume, I strongly recommend getting a kitchen scale. My favorite is the OXO Good Grips. Regardless, if you love baking, getting a scale is key to reliable results. I cannot preach this enough. 

Plus, think of the measuring cups you don't have to wash! Just tare and scoop the ingredient into your mixing bowl. 

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns torn on black plates.

This month the Bread Baking Babes are baking Inside Out Coconut Buns, chosen by My Diverse Kitchen from Healthy Nibbles (here's a link to her shaping video).  

After the recipe, be sure to check out the participating Babes' takes on this bread. 

There are lots of versions and shaping methods for these buns, including hearts, sticks, swirls, and twists. You might want to check out the babka method as well. 

Coconut buns on black plates.

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns

Hong Kong-Style Inside Out Coconut Buns
Yield: 6 rolls
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 30 MinInactive time: 2 HourTotal time: 3 Hour
These Hong Kong-Style inside out coconut buns are made with a soft and fluffy milk bread swirled with a buttery coconut filling.


For the Dough3/4 c
  • 3/4 cup warm milk (100 degrees F)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 360 grams (3 cups) bread flour
  • 10 grams (2 tablespoons) milk powder
  • 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 50 grams (3 3/4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
For the Filling
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened coconut
  • 45 grams (3 tablespoons plus one teaspoon) granulated sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 45 grams (3 tablespoons) melted butter
  • 1 egg yolk from a large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the Egg Wash
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon cream or milk


  1. Mix the warm milk, sugar, and yeast together in a small bowl and let sit for five minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, powdered milk, and salt. Pour in the yeast and milk mixture, the melted butter, and the egg.
  3. Using the dough hook, mix on low until everything is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix on medium low for eight minutes, until you have a smooth and supple dough.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into an oiled dough rising bucket or bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  5. While the dough is rising, mix together the filling ingredients and refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Prepare a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. If your oven runs slightly hot, you can stack two baking sheets to prevent over-browning on the bottom of the buns.
  7. Divide the dough into 6 pieces, about 4 ounces (113 grams) each and shape each into a ball. Cover while you work with each individual piece of dough.
  8. Roll each dough piece into a 10 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch rectangle. Spread 1/6 of the filling lengthwise over half of the rolled out dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling.
  9. Using a pizza wheel, cut three lengthwise slits in the dough, leaving 1/2 inch at the top and bottom. Stretch the dough out and twist it into a coil. Knot the dough as pictured into a roll.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Gently brush with the egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts



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Did you make this recipe?
Tag on instagram and hashtag it # karenskitchenstories

The Bread Baking Babes' Coconut Buns:

A Messy Kitchen

My Diverse Kitchen

Bread Experience

Judy's Gross Eats

Feeding My Enthusiasms

Would you like to comment?

  1. They look like beautiful danishes! I would love to try Aparna's suggestion of adding a little cardamom to them next time, what a combo!

    1. If you haven't tried it yet, Swedish kardemombullar is amazing.

  2. Your coconut rolls and photos are exquisite! I love the color. Definitely bakery-worthy.

  3. The color really is gorgeous - and the buns would be perfect with coffee - for breakfast.

  4. Those are beautiful! I especially like the photo just after "think of the measuring cups you don't have to wash!" The crumb looks perfect.

    Blueberry jam.... I'm suitably envious.

  5. These are beautiful! I don't know what is more fun, the swirl on these or the surprise of the stuffed ones. Now I want to try one of each to pick a favorite!


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