It confuses me sometimes when people call this a Mexican Coffee Buns. I was led to believe that this bread originated mostly from Singapore, because many of my Singaporean acquaintances who know that I bake always ask if I have made these before. My favourite coffee bun bakeshop, Roti Mum, originated from Singapore as well. I call these buns mostly kopi roti or simply coffee bun (or kopi bun to conjugate), but I’ve never known them as rotiboy (which is actually the name of a popular Malaysian bakery selling these buns) until I begun looking for recipes on the Internet.
You learn something new everyday here in the world of food blogging.
I have a rather odd relationship with coffee bun-making. I’ve made it thrice already, and this last time had been my most successful batch of them all. I had used a different recipe for my first batch, and the best thing about that was the fragrance; the worse was the sinking dome of the bun the moment I pulled it out of the oven. The second time, I had used this recipe I’m sharing today, but the buns also sunk down the longer they stayed out in the open. Both times though, the flat roti ended up being delicious anyway. I even invented a new name for them (Coffee Flat Breads) when I brought them to a family gathering, but I’m almost certain no one even recalls the name, not especially my little cousins who ate every last piece, leaving only crumbs for the grumbling adults.
Despite this, my frustration did not go away. Neither of my attempts came even close in appearance to the gorgeously brown fat, round buns from Roti Mum, which I was aspiring to recreate at home. It seemed like such an impossible task after two discouraging attempts. I was also rather uncomfortable once again by the amount of butter used to make these buns, and so I did not try again for a long while.
One day a craving hit me. Rather than run out to the store, I decided it might finally be the time to try this again. I am a bit of a believer in ‘third time’s the charm‘, and it worked its magic in the end. I still have some ways to go before I can completely replicate the Roti Mum bun, but at least I’m improving!
I made some changes to the procedure this time around. First, I did not crowd my baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space at least between each piece of dough to allow more circulation of air and more room for the buns to expand. I also opted to bake one sheet at a time, not taking out the buns even to rotate the sheets for fear that the tops will sink the moment they are moved.
To get the lovely even crust compared to the odd-looking spirally one I previously made, make sure to pipe the coffee topping in swirls that are close together, even touching, so that they can melt into each other evenly when exposed to the oven’s heat. Use the best instant coffee you can get your hands on.
Most importantly, do remember to enjoy the buttery-coffeeness (what a word) of these buns.
adapted from Rasa Malaysia | Makes about 16 buns
For the Buns:
500 grams bread flour
80 grams caster sugar
9 grams salt
20 grams low-fat milk powder (optional)
10 grams instant dry yeast
280 mL water
1 large egg
60 grams unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the coffee topping:
200 grams unsalted butter
150 grams powdered sugar, sieved
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
200 grams cake flour (not self-raising)
1 Tablespoon instant coffee, mixed with 2 Tablespoons hot water (or 3 Tablespoons espresso)
1 Tablespoon coffee liqueur or coffee essence (optional)
For the filling:
100 grams butter (salted or unsalted)
1. To make the bread: Add all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix them thoroughly with a spatula. In a measuring glass, whisk together water and egg.
2. Attach the dough hook onto the mixer and switch the machine on. Gradually add the water-and-egg mixture into the dry ingredients, kneading on medium speed for about 10 minutes.
3. Slowly add in butter and continue kneading until you get a shiny and elastic dough that stretches without breaking.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave to proof for about 40 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
5. Meanwhile, prepare topping: Beat butter and sugar, either by hand or using a mixer, in medium speed until pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.*
6. On low speed, add in the flour, the coffee mixture (or espresso) and liqueur. Mix until smooth and combined. Set aside.
7. To make the buns: Prepare two half-sheet pans and grease or line with baking paper. Once the dough has risen, punch down the dough to release some air and move to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 16 pieces of 25-gram balls.
8. Roll each ball out in to a small circle and place about 1 teaspoon of butter into the center of each bun. Wrap it up like you would a dumpling, smoothing out the ball and setting it seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the dough and butter, placing the buns at least an inch apart on the baking sheet. You may or may not end up using all the butter.
9. Leave the ready buns to proof for about 45 minutes or until double in size. About ten minutes toward the end of the proofing time, preheat oven to 420°F (215°C).
10. Once the buns have risen, place the coffee topping into a pipping bag or ziplock bag and snip off the corner to make a small opening. Starting from the middle of the bun’s surface, pipe out the topping in concentric circles, keeping each circle close to the one before it.**
11. Bake at 420°F (215°C) for about 18 minutes, or until the coffee topping darkens and forms a soft crust on the bun and the bottoms are slightly browned and firm.
Storage: The buns can be kept at room temperature for about three days. Pop in the toaster before eating as it is best enjoyed hot.
* If the mixture curdles, do not worry. Once you add the flour and the coffee, it will smooth out.
** To get a lovely even brown top, make sure to pipe the coffee topping in swirls that are close together, even touching, so that they can melt into each other evenly when exposed to the oven’s heat.
Even though the buns aren’t perfect, I feel really proud of myself for the results the third time. I also enjoyed taking all the process photos so much, so I hope you all have as much fun making and eating these if you do decide to try the recipe. I couldn’t resist sneaking in another photo down here:
And of course, the obligatory crumb shots:
Gorgeous. Reminds me a bit of brioche, filled with butter, covered with coffee… Dreamy.