Chinese Sweet Buns


On several trips to China, this was featured on all breakfast buffets. I’ve loved them ever since the first time I tried them.

We don’t have many breads in China – especially baked ones (there are several steamed ones), so I’m always keen to try new ones.

I tried hard to get the recipe from the hotel, and then on the Web. This is the closest I could find. I don’t think these are really Chinese in origin.

I went to The Fresh Loaf – which really is my source when I’m confounded and need help. And there someone told me these are called Mexican sweet buns or coffee cookie buns or rotiboy buns.

Well, I’m just glad I could find the method to this after so many weeks of research! I’ve gone and changed it and omitted the coffee, but feel free to add if you prefer.

The recipe calls for making a tangzhong – this is a way to cook a bit of milk and flour together before adding the rest of the flour. It makes the resultant bread much softer. I’ve used this method to much success in several recipes.

Chinese Sweet Bun

Aka Mexican Sweet Buns aka Coffee cookie buns aka rotiboy buns


  • 20g all purpose flour
  • 100 g milk

Whisk together the flour and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. The texture should be like pudding. Allow to cool.


  • 380 g all purpose flour
  • 200 g milk
  • 40 g sugar
  • 50 g egg
  • 4 g Active Dry yeast
  • 6 g salt
  • 40 g softened butter

Combine all the ingredients for the dough, except for the butter.

Add the butter a little at a time and knead for 2-3 minutes.

Set the dough aside in a bowl, cover and let rise for an hour.

Divide the dough into balls, each weighing about 50 g. Shape them into buns and place them a few inches apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Pipe the cookie batter onto each bun.

I added some black sesame seeds to a few of them, for texture and because that’s what the Chinese do!

Bake at 375 deg F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm.

To make the cookie topping:

  • 50 g softened butter
  • 70 g all purpose flour
  • 50 g softened butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add the flour and incorporate until no dry parts remain.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag.


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