Sweet Samoan Coconut Buns

These are the softest, sweetest pull-apart rolls you can bake.

They will melt in your mouth.

Based on a Samoan recipe for pani popo, the buns have a lovely, sweet coconut glaze.

You can enjoy them as a dinner roll or for breakfast.

I made these as part of the showstopper challenge from the great British bake-off, season 1, episode 3. The task was to make a bread basket with 3 kinds of sweet rolls and 3 kinds of savory rolls.

The theme I chose was “favorite family flavors”: chocolate babka, blueberry buns, sweet coconut rolls, mini pizzas, chana curry buns, and pesto-feta swirls. The other recipes are here if you want to give them a try.

I LOVE making bread, so this was my happiest challenge so far.

I made about a dozen of each and then picked the best ones for the pictures.

Sooo we will be eating bread for quite a while…. 

Great British Bakeoff Vegan: Season 1, Episode 3, Showstopper



  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup hot water (100-110F)
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil or vegan butter
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup


In a small bowl, mix the yeast, coconut sugar, and hot water. Stir gently and let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to wake up the yeast and form a thick foam on top.

In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt, soy milk, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and the yeast mixture. Once it comes together, knead with your hands for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. In the same large bowl, cover the dough and put in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

After the dough has risen, rub some vegan butter or coconut oil around a 9×13 pan to grease it, then cut the dough into 12 equal parts. Roll each part into smooth balls and place in pan. Cover again and rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Pour ⅔ of the glaze over the risen buns, then bake for 30 mins at 350F.
When the buns are nice and golden, remove them from the oven and pour the rest of the sauce over them. Enjoy while they are still warm from the oven!


Today’s inspiration comes from American inventor Thomas Edison:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

May your day bring new learnings on the way to a life that works for you. 🙂

Chef Maitri Carmichael brings a creative and peaceful energy to every plate. She grew up in Toronto with a British Grandma and an Italian Nonna who showed their love through food, then she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, spending her free time at community farms and zen kitchens. Originally a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, she graduated from the Vegan Chef School in London (2021) and the Raw Food Culinary Academy in Vancouver (2023), and is now settled in Hawaii.

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