This recipe was developed in partnership with Red Star Yeast. Thank you for helping support our sponsors so we can bring you great content.
My husband’s family is rich in cultures from around the world. We have relatives from Europe, South America, and the Pacific Islands, plus many who have traveled to all of the corners of the globe, including myself. It’s incredibly wonderful to see the way all of those cultures come together in the food we make when we gather as a family. My husband’s Aunt Robin and her family make loads of traditional Tongan, Samoan, and Hawaiian foods, which is pretty much the best thing ever.
I still remember the day I was over at the house for one of Robin’s legendary parties and there was a pan of pani popo in the center of the table. I had never heard of such a thing, but soon realized what the fuss was all about. Pani popo is basically rolls cooked in a sweet coconut milk syrup. And I know what you’re thinking – what could possibly be wrong with that? And the answer is NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with that. It’s the most right thing in the world. Ever since then, I have been hooked.
I was astonished how easy it is to make pani popo. Coconut is one of my very favorite things in the world, and I’ve been missing pani popo something fierce. So I decided to finally come up with a gluten-free pani popo recipe to take to Aunt Robin’s for Easter. Easter is not complete without coconut! I went to work planning out a recipe that would remain true to the non-GF pani popo recipe I’ve made before.
I went for a little different dough than I’ve used in my other gluten-free yeast bread and rolls recipes. This one is made with a higher percentage of rice flours and more eggs to make them lighter and fluffier. They also soak up a lot of the sweet coconut syrup, which is a plus. These border on dessert, but we have also eaten them for breakfast. They are purely addictive!
I love using Red Star Dry Active Yeast. (It’s always in my freezer!) For this recipe I let the dough rise a little bit before forming the rolls. Normally for the gluten-free rolls, I only do one rise after they’ve been shaped. I think that also added to the light, fluffy texture.
The coconut milk syrup is pretty spectacular. I used light coconut milk and thickened it with a little corn starch (more on that below), but coconut cream will work great too and doesn’t need to be thickened. Some people add sweetened condensed milk too, but I made these dairy free. All of those variations are in the notes below the recipe.
I was so happy my little experiment produced the rolls I was hoping for – light, fluffy, and sweet with plenty of coconut flavor. I hope you’ll love them too!
Check out my other gluten-free rolls and yeast breads:
- For dough:
- ½ cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- 4 teaspoons Red Star Active Dry Yeast
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 6 Tablespoons pure vegetable shortening
- ⅓ cup sugar plus ¼ teaspoon, divided
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (see below)
- rice flour, for shaping rolls
- For coconut syrup:
- 1¼ cups coconut milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch (optional)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste
- A generous pinch of salt
- For the rolls – Dissolve yeast and ¼ teaspoon sugar in the ½ cup warm water. Stir and let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes.
- Heat the coconut milk, shortening, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan or large measuring cup in the microwave. Don’t let it boil, but it should be hot enough to dissolve sugar and salt. Stir and let cool a bit.
- Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn mixer on low and beat eggs for a few seconds. Add the warm milk mixture to the eggs in a slow, steady stream.
- Add half of the gluten-free flour and mix well. Add the proofed yeast to the bowl and mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed. With mixer running on low, add the remaining flour. The dough will be pretty sticky, and that’s fine.
- Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer. Scrape the dough off the paddle and sides of the bowl. Let stand for about 15-20 minutes in a warm place. During this time, the dough will thicken/set up a bit and start to rise.
- Sprinkle a little rice flour on a clean surface. Turn dough out onto the flour and sprinkle with a little more rice flour. Pat it into a thick disk. This will help with creating evenly sized rolls. Coating your hands with a little flour each time, divide the dough into 15 evenly sized pieces. You can use a knife, but the dough is very, very sticky, so your hands are a bit easier.
- Gently pat the dough and form into balls. Don’t overwork the dough too much or they won’t be as light and fluffy after they bake.
- Grease a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Place the rolls in five rows with three rolls in each row. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the coconut syrup. Place coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch (if using), vanilla, and pinch salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 60 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and let cool until slightly warm, but not hot. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour the warm syrup over the raised rolls, allowing some to drip over the top of each rolls. Place pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- To serve, let cool slightly and serve from the pan or turn them out onto a serving platter, coconut syrup side up.
1 cup (168 grams) white rice flour
1 cup (168 grams) brown rice flour
3/4 cup (86 grams) potato starch
3/4 cup (94 grams) tapioca starch
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon (86 grams) sticky rice flour
4 teaspoons (16 grams) xanthan gum
Sift together or place in a blender or food processor and pulse to blend. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. Before using shake the bag, whisk, or sift again.
-regular milk can be used in place of coconut milk in the roll recipe
-butter, coconut oil, or another oil can be used in place of the vegetable shortening, though it might alter the texture a bit (the shortening does help make them very soft)
-I do not recommend using an egg replacer for this recipe as it would completely alter the texture of the rolls.
-Coconut cream can be used in place of the coconut milk and cornstarch. Mix the coconut cream with sugar, vanilla, and salt and gently warm before pouring over the rolls. It will thicken as the rolls bake and make a richer sauce.
-If using sweetened coconut cream, such as the Coco Lopez brand, omit the sugar from the syrup.
HOW TO PHOTOS
Disclosure: I was compensated for my time in developing this recipe. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. I only recommend products that I use and love in my kitchen.
My friend, Becky, and I team up once a month with a theme and then we come up with a recipe.This month I chose the theme, Easter. Be sure to hop on over and check out her amazing recipe for Quick Pickled Asparagus.
Easter is coming up in a few days, so I have been thinking about our menu a little bit. My son only cares about making a cake with Cadbury mini eggs on top (hold the coconut). My girls will eat just about anything. My husband wants Design Mom’s slow cooker ham again. I’m thinking more about what I want to make for breakfast than anything else. But I’m pretty sure it’s going to include pancakes in some form. For weeks and weeks I’ve been craving strawberry rhubarb compote over a stack of buckwheat pancakes. You know how it goes, right? You start thinking about that (insert craving here) and you can’t shake it. (And I’m not even pregnant!) So there I was in front of my open refrigerator, staring at the rhubarb and package of fresh strawberries, and before I knew it the compote was bubbling away on the stove and I was flipping pancakes.
All was right in the world for that moment.
I really, super-duper love rhubarb, and especially when it includes strawberries. It’s a childhood favorite wrought with pleasant memories of my maternal grandmother. It just means spring to me, which also reminds me of my grandma.
So let’s talk about the compote because the pancakes, while very delicious, were more about just being a vehicle for the compote. I wanted it to be sweet, but not too sweet. Rhubarb is pretty tart and usually you need a ton of sugar to balance things out. I used maple syrup and coconut sugar. They were a great way to go because they added a lot of depth to the compote without overwhelming sweetness. It was just right. I also added a bit of vanilla bean paste ’cause that’s how I’m rolling these days in the vanilla department. Good, good stuff.
So over the next few days we’ll continue to discuss what our contribution to Easter Dinner will be and we’ll get to making the special cake (also inspired by my maternal grandmother) and enjoy (will we? that’s the question!) Spring Break and bask in the warmer weather and beautiful blossoms. (And eat way too many pancakes, I hope.)
- For compote:
- 1 cup sliced rhubarb
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- For pancakes:
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons avocado or another flavorless oil, plus more for cooking
- For compote – place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat and keep warm until ready to serve.
- For pancakes – whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk coconut milk, eggs, and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Some lumps will remain.
- Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle. Add a little oil. Ladle ⅓ cupfuls of batter onto the skillet or griddle. Let cook for 2 minutes or so. They will be ready to flip when the bubbles start to pop and the edges look set.
- Place pancakes on a plate or in a warm oven until ready to serve.
- To serve – top pancakes with the compote.
- Yields: 8-10 six-inch pancakes and about 2 cups compote
My new favorite gluten-free pizza crust is made from nothing more than quinoa, water, and salt. I usually add garlic and/or herbs too, but that’s seriously it! It makes such a good crust. You cannot even believe it. I came across the recipe one day when I was looking for something else online and I was totally intrigued. I think I’ve made it at least a dozen times in the last few months. It does require a little planning and an overnight soak, if possible. I have been experimenting with all sorts of different pizza topping combos, but I think this quinoa pizza topped with fresh goat cheese and thinly sliced Meyer lemon is spectacular.
I love the layer of flavors. The goat cheese is tangy and creamy, the lemons are tart and slightly bitter, the basil gives it a nice herby feel. The nuts add a little crunch. I toyed with the idea of using white truffle oil instead of olive oil, but went with the latter. Mostly because I didn’t want to interfere with the other flavors going on there – truffle oil can be kinda overpowering. This is a FANTASTIC pizza. Just so good you can’t believe it. Take advantage of those Meyer lemons while they’re still around for a few more weeks and MAKE THIS PIZZA.
Because everyone loves a good pizza, I’m joining in on some of my blogging pals for PizzaWeek hosted by NoshOn.It. Every day there will be several new delectable pizza recipes to check out. You can follow along on social media using #PizzaWeek. I’m seriously blown away by these amazing pizza my bloggy friends are coming up with.
Check out these other fabulous homemade pizzas for #PizzaWeek: (will be updated throughout the week)
Breakfast Pizza from Very Culinary
Carne Asada Pizza from Mountain Mama Cooks
Raspberry Brie Dessert Pizza from Completely Delicious
Kale and Artichoke Pizza with Roasted Garlic Ricotta from The Corner Kitchen Blog
Shrimp and Grit Naan Pizza with Cajun Remoulade Sauce from Climbing Grier Mountain
Caramelized Spring Onion and Fennel Pizza with Beer Crust from Girl Versus Dough
Spinach Artichoke Pizza from The Vintage Mixer
- For quinoa pizza crust:
- 1 cup quinoa
- water, for soaking and blending
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or another high-heat oil)
- For toppings:
- 5-6 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
- 1 Meyer lemon, very thinly sliced (seeds removed)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- small handful fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts (raw or toasted)
- coarse ground black pepper
- coarse sea salt
- olive oil, for drizzling
- For quinoa crust – place quinoa in a medium bowl and cover with water by several inches. Let stand at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drain the presoaked quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well. Place in a blender with a little water (about ¼ cup), garlic clove, and salt. Puree until smooth. Add more water if needed. The mixture should look like pancake batter and not be too thin or thick, but still pourable.
- Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet into the hot oven. Allow to heat for 5-10 minutes. Carefully add the 2 Tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat for another 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven carefully. Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the hot oil.
- Pour the batter into the center of the pan and tilt it to create and even layer on the bottom. Place back into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven, turn crust over, and place back in oven for another 10. Remove from oven and transfer the crust to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (At this point you can also place it on a cooling rack and let it cool completely, then prepare the pizza at a later time.)
- For toppings – mix the goat cheese with the lemon juice. If the cheese is very crumbly, add a little milk or water to smooth it out. It should be spreadable.
- Spread the cheese evenly over the crust. (I removed it from the cast iron skillet and transferred it to a baking sheet.) Layer the Meyer lemons evenly over the cheese.
- Place in the 450 degree oven and let bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and turned golden, and the lemons are tender. (For a crispy top, place under the broiler for a few minutes.)
- Remove from oven and top with the remaining toppings. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.