Mexican Coffee Bun is a Malaysian bread made with a very pillowy soft sweet bun with a butter coffee crunchy topping. This is certainly one of the best sweet bread buns you will ever try.
Panama Hats, Chinese Gooseberries, French Fries and Mexican Coffee Bun, what do these things have in common? If you think that their origins can be easily guessed by their names well, you’re wrong, actually their origins are not what it seems. Panama Hats are from Ecuador, Chinese Gooseberries was first grown in New Zealand, French Fries was created in Belgium and the Mexican Coffee Bun was invented in Malaysia. The first three are quite popular on those tricky quizzes on quiz shows but with Mexican Coffee Bun, I was confused too, I really thought it was Mexican until I did my research.
When I lived in Malaysia around 2003, I was fortunate enough to have tried this from a shop called Rotiboy, they did not call it Mexican Coffee Buns back then, it was simply called Rotiboy. I am not sure when this name got associated with the bread and I am sure I just started to see it online after I left Malaysia and moved to New Zealand. Going back to the bread, this thing was in demand during that time, every time I visit the 1Utama Shopping Centre and pass by the floor where RotiBoy is, the aroma of that buttery bread and coffee topping attracts everyone making them queue just to grab this thing. I was one of those who queue for it and it was always a treat, it was worth queuing for, the sweet crunchy top, pillowy soft bread with molten butter in the middle, oh boy they were amazing.
I know a lot say they are not Mexican but why was it given that name? Apparently, there are claims that this was created in a bakery in Bukit Mertajam, Penang but if you try to understand how it is made, then there seems to be a link to Mexico. First of all, this bun is just your usual semi sweet fluffy white bread dough, what makes it special is its crusty topping similar to streusel that is made with a buttery flour mixture infused with coffee. This type of bread where it is made by two layers, a bun and a top crust is not unique to the Mexican Coffee Bun, in fact you can see this in Japan in the form of Melon Pan and in Hong Kong in the form of Pineapple Buns, both soft and fluffy and with a crusty topping. No melons or pineapples on either bread but they are just named like such because how they looked. These types of bread, especially the Japanese are known and written in history that it had originated from a Mexican bread called Conchas and if you look at how it’s made and how it looks then the similarity is striking.
So, is this the missing link? Probably but we will never know for now but it may be the reason why this Roti Boy had an alias called Mexican Coffee Bun.
Today we are making this, I have been wanting to make one for quite some time now but since we had freedom after our longest lockdown in New Zealand last year. I cannot find time to make one but recently we had another lockdown due to that Delta variant giving me this opportunity to proof this bread correctly and yield the best result. All I can say is that I pretty much nailed this one, that first bite reminded me of that first queue I had at 1Utama’s Roti Boy shop.
In a bowl combine milk and yeast, set it aside for 15 minutes or until it is proofed and bubbly.
In a stand-up mixing bowl combine the rest of the dough ingredients, pour the milk and yeast mixture. Using the kneading hook, knead in the lowest setting until the dough comes together.
Bring knead setting to the next speed then knead for 15-20 minutes or until dough is elastic and smooth. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, place in a warm location then let it rise.
Once double in size, place it in the refrigerator for additional proofing, keep it there overnight, don’t skip this step as this will make it really soft and fluffy. If you can’t wait overnight, you can still continue to the next step, it won’t just be a soft and fluffy as an overnight proofed dough.
Remove the dough from the fridge, be careful not to deflate it too much. Divide into 8 equal sections. For each section, gently flatten it to a small disc, place a frozen butter in the middle then fold the sides to enclose the butter in the middle. Shape it into a ball then place on a baking paper lined baking sheet, do it with the rest of the dough. Make sure you leave ample space in between as this bread will grow.
Set the prepared bread aside in a warm location and let it rise until it doubles in size. Butter may seep through but that’s fine, it will be absorbed back into the bread during baking.
In a bowl combine instant coffee powder and hot water, set it aside.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar using a hand mixer. Once the butter becomes pale in colour gently add the egg and whisk until smooth. Add the cocoa powder then followed by the dissolved coffee, mix well until blended.
Add the all-purpose flour and cornstarch then gently fold until mixture is well incorporated.
Place mixture in a piping bag, using a small round hole tip, pipe the mixture into the well risen dough by a swirling pattern from the centre of the bread up to near the edges.
Bake in a 180C preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn heat off then leave it for another 10 minutes in the oven.
Remove from oven, let it cool down then serve warm.