Breads Recipes

Cookie buns (Mexican coffee buns)

By on 03.02.13

I haven’t posted anything in three weeks as I had exams and not a lot of time to bake, take pictures and post them online. But now I have vacation (!!!) and I of course baked some things this weekend. I made these coffee buns which have several names: rotiboy buns, mexican coffee buns, cookie buns, coffee buns… Well I’ll just call mine cookie buns.

I have seen these buns several times online, but I did not know (any) of the names of this bun until yesterday. They always looked very appealing to me as there’s a cookie layer on top of the bun, which Chinese pineapple buns also have. And I love pineapple buns, oh and pineapple buns have nothing to do with the fruit pineapple by the way. It’s the cookie layer that somewhat looks like a pineapple.

Apparently these buns are not so mexican but more Asian. I read that they once were very very popular in Malaysia and Singapore but not so much anymore. Still available but not on every corner. There are several chains that only sell these buns, Rotiboy is one of them and is also located in Thailand. I haven’t seen it while I was there sadly.

To get the cookie skin you pipe cookie dough on top of the buns, in the oven it will spread and cover the whole bun. This is a before picture. ^^

And after.

I also tried making bagels for the first time! I wanted to eat a bagel for quite some time now and as they are not widely available (or expensive) I made myself some.

I really enjoy these buns, they are very soft and fluffy because the recipe uses tang zhong which keeps moisture in the bun. Using tang zhong the buns won’t dry as quick as regular bread which is dry the next day.

Here is the recipe, hope you try it out. Tomorrow I’m off to Lisbon for a couple of days! I’m looking forward to eat pasteis de belem, pasteis de nata and other pastries all day. 🙂

Cookie buns (Mexican coffee buns)
Recipe source: Happy Home Baking
tang zhong:
  • 25g bread flour
  • 125ml water
bread dough:
  • 210g bread flour
  • 56g cake flour
  • 20g milk powder
  • 42g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6g instant yeast
  • 30g egg, lightly beaten
  • 85g water
  • 84g tang zhong (water-roux)*
  • 22g unsalted butter
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g egg, lightly beaten
  • 50g cake flour
  • 1½ teaspoons instant coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon warm water
to make topping:
  1. Dissolve instant coffee powder with the warm water, mix in vanilla extract. Set aside.
  2. Beat the butter with caster sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg one teaspoon at a time, beat well after each addition (add in egg gradually to prevent the mixture from curdling). Add in the coffee mixture gradually, beat well after each addition. Sieve over the cake flour. Mix with a spatula until just combined. Transfer topping into piping bag fixed with pipping nozzle (round tip). Let the topping chill in the fridge until needed. Remove from fridge about 5~10mins earlier before use to allow the topping to soften a little.
to make tang zhong:
  1. Place 25g bread flour in a saucepan. Add 125ml water, mix till smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly with a hand whisk to prevent it from burning. Within 1 to 2 mins, the mixture will start to thicken, stop when you see traces in the mixture for every stir you make with the hand whisk. The 65degC tang zhong is ready. Immediately transfer the hot tang zhong into a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap, making sure the cling wrap sticks onto the surface of the mixture. This is to prevent a film from forming on the surface. Leave to cool completely before using it.
to make the bread with bread machine:
  1. Place water, egg, tang zhong (use 84g), sugar, salt, bread flour, cake flour, milk powder in the pan of the bread machine (according to the sequence as stated in the instruction manual of your bread machine). Make an indentation on the flour and add in the instant yeast. Select the Dough function of the bread machine and press start. Leave the lid of the machine open (this is to prevent over heating). After about 10mins of kneading, add in the 22g of butter. Let the machine continue to knead the dough. After the kneading cycle has stopped (20mins), Stop and Restart the machine. Continue to let the machine knead for another 20mins. Remove dough from the bread pan. (Note: refer this post for instructions on how to knead dough by hand.)
To make the bread with a standing mixer:
  1. Place water, egg, tang zhong (use 84g), sugar, salt, bread flour, cake flour, milk powder in the bowl and start slowly until it comes together. Then increase speed to medium (speed 4 of a kitchenaid). Once the dough starts to come off the sides of the bowl, add the butter and keep mixing until the dough is not sticky.
After dough has formed:
  1. Grease hands with some vegetable oil (this helps to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands). Remove dough from bread machine. Shape into a smooth round. Place dough in a lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap or a damp cloth and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about one hour, or until double in bulk.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and give a few light kneading to press out the gas in the dough. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions (about 55g each). Roll each dough into smooth rounds and place on a greased (or lined with parchment paper) baking tray. Space doughs two inches apart to allow them to expand. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap and leave doughs to proof for the second time for about 30~40mins, or until double in size.
  3. Pipe topping onto each dough. Make sure to cover the entire surface with the topping.
  4. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to wire track to let cool. Once cool, store immediately in an airtight container. Best served warm (re-heat in oven if necessary before serving).



  • Yum! These buns are very popular in Hong Kong. They were also pretty popular among Asians in Los Angeles last year. But they seems to disappear this year. Now, I don’t know where to get them. Maybe making them myself is the best solution. Anyhow, have a great vacation!

  • henryezra

    what is tang zhong anyway?

    • Gail Ho

      It is a water based roux (butter and flour), it is used to make bread soft and moist.

Gail Ho
Mahé, Seychelles

Hello! My name is Gail, I'm a pastry chef currently working in Seychelles. I've studied industrial design engineering and the french art of pâtisserie in Paris. I've been working in Amsterdam, Paris, Biarritz and now in Seychelles.