Coffee, among a few others, tops the list of my favorite aromas in the world – seriously, who could say no to that body-warming, pick-me-up goodness of freshly brewed coffee? Sadly my body just won’t allow me to absorb it at all, for some reason. This is why any baking goods that utilizes coffee as a flavoring (without its bitter taste) are totally my cup of tea. These Mexican coffee buns, or well-known in some places as Papparotis, have therefore become one of my favorite treats to make, especially on a cold winter day. As if hot, fresh-from-the-oven bread wasn’t good enough, these delicious coffee buns also reward you with the most irresistible baked smell of coffee mixed with butter that would wake you up from morning sluggishness better than an alarm clock.
MEXICAN COFFEE BUNS/ ROTIBOY/ PAPPAROTI RECIPE
- 260 gram (2 cups) bread flour – sifted
- 35 gram (3 tablespoons) caster/ ultrafine sugar – sifted
- 3 gram (1/2 teaspoon) salt
- 5 gram (1.5 teaspoon) instant dry yeast
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk – at room temperature or slightly cool
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk mixed with 3 ml (1/2 tsp) lemon juice (instructions below – can be substituted with 60 ml buttermilk)
- 1 egg (50 gram without shell) – at room temperature
- 40 gram (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter – softened at room temperature
B. Coffee flavored topping
- 35 gram (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour or bread flour – sifted
- 1 gram (1/8 teaspoon) cocoa powder
- 30 gram (2 tablespoon) unsalted butter – softened at room temperature
- 25 gram (2 tablespoon) caster/ ultrafine sugar
- 1 gram (1/8 teaspoon) salt
- 1/2 egg (slightly beaten, use 25 gram only)
- 10 ml strong coffee – either brewed or instant, stronger coffee results in stronger coffee aroma
- 12 unsalted butter cubes, 3 – 4 gram each – keep frozen until use.
Note: This amount of topping is just enough for 12 buns as given in this recipe. If you’ve never attempted making these buns before and not quite sure how much topping goes on each bun, then I’d recommend doubling the topping amount to make sure you’re not short of it. The excessive topping can be stored in a sealed bag or box and kept inside the freezer, and just thaw it in the refrigerator before your next use.
Note: the video is in HD setting and has English subtitle, please press CC to activate it.
1. Combine lemon juice and milk, stir gently and set aside for 15 minutes before using. The milk will precipitate and become a slightly sour mixture, which helps making our buns richer and fluffier. You can substitute this lemon and milk mixture with buttermilk instead.
2. I used instant yeast in the video, which could be added directly to the dough without being activated. If you use dry yeast (not the “instant” kind) or you use instant dry yeast but want to make sure your yeast is still good to use, you can activate it using the following method:
Warm up 60 ml milk until its temperature is between 35 – 40°C/ 95 – 104 °F (must not be hotter than this, otherwise the yeast could be killed or weakened). Add 5 gr/ 1 tsp sugar and the entire amount of yeast into the lukewarm milk, stir gently with a wooden spoon. After 5 – 10 minutes, the yeast will rise and form a layer of foam on top, like the picture below. If the yeast doesn’t rise, it could be due to 2 reasons: 1) the yeast is spoiled, 2) the milk is overheated and killed the yeast, you will have to discard the mixture and prepare the ingredients all over again.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add instant yeast, mix well. Separating these 2 steps is to avoid yeast from direct contact with sugar and salt (which can weaken the yeast’s activeness).
If you activate yeast following the instructions above, then add the yeast and milk mixture into the dough in the next step.
4. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Add milk, milk and lemon juice mixture, and beaten egg. Stir from the middle in an outward motion, until all the ingredients are combined into a ball of dough.
5. Knead until the dough is quite elastic and has a smooth surface. I knead with my 500 Watt hand mixer using the dough hooks for about 3 – 4 minutes at low speed, then raise to medium speed. After another 10 minutes, the dough reached this smooth and elastic state. Kneading by hands probably takes a little longer.
The dough is quite sticky, so if you want to knead it by hands, you can cover the bowl and let rest for 20 minutes before kneading. Some gluten strings will have already formed inside the dough, which helps reduce the stickiness and makes it easier to handle.
6. Add softened butter (not melted) and knead at low speed until the butter is incorporated into the dough. Raise to medium speed, continue kneading until the dough is completely smooth and elastic, and can pass the window pane test: Take a pinch of dough and stretch it to all directions with your fingers, the dough becomes a thin membrane that lets the light pass through, but doesn’t rip. See more on how to knead bread dough here.
7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured worktop. Use some flour to coat your hands if the dough is too sticky. Gently shape the dough into a ball with a smooth surface. The dough has resilience now, if you press your finger into the dough, it should spring back. The dough should feel quite wet and flaccid at the touch of your finger, but doesn’t stick to your hands at all.
8. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl, flip the dough over so it is completely coated with a thin layer of oil. This keeps the dough surface from getting dry while being proofed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, proof at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size.
To verify whether the dough has been proofed enough, poke one or two fingers about 1 – 2 cm deep into the dough. If the dent holds firmly then the dough has been properly proofed. If the dough slowly rises back, then you should let it proof for a little longer.
(You can start preparing the topping and filling while waiting for the dough.)
B. Topping and bun filling
* Filling: I simply cubed unsalted butter, each cube about 3 grams. You can use custard filling , cream cheese, or any other fillings of your preference.
After dividing the filling into 12 equal portions, place them in the freezer so the filling doesn’t melt too fast during the second fermentation and baking.
1. Make coffee, dissolve in hot milk/water if you use instant coffee mix, or brew if you use ground coffee. Let cool.
2. Combine flour and cocoa powder.
3. Put butter, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cream butter until all ingredients are combined
4. Add egg, continue beating until the butter mixture is completely incorporated. * Note: Don’t overbeat, the topping could end up having a spongy texture.
5. Sift flour and cocoa powder into the bowl, mix well.
6. Add coffee, mix well until smooth and combined.
7. Transfer topping to a piping bag, twist the top to seal and keep in the refrigerator.
* Note: The topping mostly consists of butter, so it’s best to be kept in the fridge until use. Otherwise it could melt too quickly in the oven, leaving only a thin topping crust on top of the buns, which doesn’t look nice.
C. Shaping and Baking
1. After the dough has doubled in size, gently press your palm against the dough to force gas out. Take the dough out, knead briefly by hands in a few minutes. Use a scale to divide the dough into 12 small pieces, weighing 40 – 42 grams each. Stretch out the edges of the dough and pinch them together to shape them into balls with smooth surfaces. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
– Take filling out of the freezer.
– Gently stretch a dough ball out, press a piece of filling into the dough and pinch edges together. Seal carefully so the filling doesn’t leak while being baked. Roll the bun with the palms of your hands until round and even. Place on tray.
– Repeat with the remaining buns.
3. Proof in a warm and humid place until the dough has again doubled in size. I proofed mine in the oven by turning it up to 50°C/ 122°F in 3 – 5 minutes, then turned it off, placed a glass of hot water into the oven and gave the inside of the oven a good spray of water as well. This creates steam to preserve moisture for the buns. Put buns into the oven, close and let them proof by about 70%.
4. When the dough has risen by about 70-80%, take the buns out and turn oven to 180°C/ 356°F (the oven needs at least 10 minutes to preheat, so once it reaches the desired temperature, the buns will have finished proofing as well).
5. Pipe topping onto the buns right before baking: cut off the top of the piping bag, start from the middle and pipe a circular swirl outward. Only cover about 1/2 – 2/3 of the bun’s surface, the topping will melt and cover the rest.
* Note: If your weather is too hot, you should keep the topping inside the fridge until you start piping to prevent it from being softened due to the heat. If the topping melts too quickly when being baked, the delicious coffee crust will be too thin and it wouldn’t look nice either.
Some tips to help you with piping the topping: Cut a rather large hole at the tip of the piping bag, and keep it close to the buns while squeezing the topping out. The topping will come out more easily and look neater as well.
6. Bake at 180°C/ 356°F. After 3 – 5 minutes the topping will start melting and cover the rest of the buns. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until the top crust is golden brown and crisp. If the top turns brown too quickly, cover the buns with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking until done.
Baked buns being left overnight will not have a crunchy crust anymore, but if you bake them again at 160°C/ 320°F for just 10 minutes, the buns will be as nice and crisp as ever.
- Recipe and photos: Linh Trang
- Written & Edited: Holly Le