Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Okinawan Sweet Potato Pani Popo

These are vegan, delicious, soft and sweet Okinawan sweet potato rolls made like the Samoan Pani Popo. Doesn’t that sound divine? These are amazing for breakfast and make a great anytime pick me up snack.

These soft rolls are like fluffy clouds and like a regular Pani Popo, they are soaked in coconut milk and baked to the perfect texture. These rolls are flavor packed and nutrient rich too. These make your mornings brighter and your day the best! 

What are Okinawan sweet potatoes?

These are also called Hawaiian sweet potatoes with a beige skin and a bluish purple flesh on the inside. The sweet flesh has notes of honey and are starchy. This bluish purple sweet potato is rich in antioxidants and is well known for the same. Did you know that the antioxidant levels in these sweet potatoes are 150 times higher than blueberries? So, it is a better idea to consume these sweet potatoes when they are in season. They provide antioxidants in addition to the Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, iron, and copper. Plus, they also add a characteristic color to the food.

How are these pani popo?

Samoan pani popo are sweet rolls drenched in coconut milk and baked. These are Okinawan sweet potato rolls that are drenched in coconut milk and baked like the Samoan pani popo. 

What are the flavors of these rolls?

These soft rolls are sweet and loaded with sweet honey notes of Okinawan sweet potatoes and the nutty flavors of coconut as they are drenched in coconut sauce and baked.

Is this a bread machine recipe?

I use my bread machine to knead and prove my dough. This bread can be baked as a loaf in the bread machine. To shape them into smaller rolls, after proving, punch and shape the rolls and bake them in oven.

Do I need active dry yeast or instant yeast for this recipe?

Instant or active dry yeast can be used in this recipe. Instant yeast can be added to the machine directly. If using active dry yeast, make sure to activate the yeast and use in the recipe. Many times, when I run out of instant yeast, I use active dry yeast to make bread and I get the same good results every time.

Are these rolls vegan?

Yes, these rolls are vegan. Almond based vegan butter is used instead of butter. Coconut oil can also be used. If vegan versions are not preferred, butter can be used and the flavors will still be good.

These sweet rolls are colored naturally. The bluish purple Okinawan sweet potato adds a characteristic purple hue to these rolls. The color of the rolls depends on the amount of Okinawan sweet potato used. Cooked sweet potatoes are used in this recipe just like any sweet potato dinner rolls. Adding beyond this quantity may result in a very sticky dough and the bread may not have a great texture. Processed powdered potatoes may be added for extra color, but adjust the liquid content as required. Food gel can also be added for extra color. Try these naturally colored breads : Heart Beet SticksTri Color Luchi, Matcha Orange Loaf, and Matcha and Strawberry Cream Melon Pan, and Multigrain Carrot Rolls 

This is #Nationalpotatolovermonth. Whether you are potato or a sweet potato lover, or both, celebrate this month by making delicious potato/sweet potato based breads shared by fellow bloggers. Stacy is hosting this event in our #BreadBakers group and make sure to check the links at the end of this post. #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Sweet potatoes are amazing starchy tubers, and come in different varieties. Whatever may be the variety they are my favorite ones. Try these Shakarkhand Sweet Potato Chaatvegan Sweet Potato Cutlets, and  Stovetop Spicy Sweet Potatoes and these would become your favorite ones too.

Makes 15 buns

Okinawa sweet potato - 225 g 
(or cooked and mashes sweet potatoes 2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp)
All purpose flour - 3.5 cups
Water - 5 tbsp
Aquafaba - 6 tbsp
Butter vegan - 5 tbsp
Coconut milk - 1/3 cup
Active dry yeast- 2 and 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar

For the Coconut Sauce

Coconut milk - 1 and 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Corn starch - 1 and 1/2 tsp


Activate the yeast in coconut milk and a teaspoon of sugar.

Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks of  one and half inch chunks. Cook with 2 cups water for 30 min until fork tender. Drain and mash.

Add the activated yeast, mashed sweet potatoes, vegan butter, water, and aquafaba to the bread machine followed by flour, sugar, and salt. Set the machine on dough cycle.

In the meantime, prepare the coconut sauce by combining the coconut milk, sugar, and corn starch. Cook for 5-7 min. Set aside to cool.

When the dough has doubled in size, transfer to a flour dusted surface, punch, and knead the dough. Divide into 15 equal portions and shape them into smooth rolls. Place in a greased 9X13-in container. 

Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to prove.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Drizzle about half of the coconut sauce on the rolls. Reserve the rest to serve as a side.

Bake for 26-27 min. 

Remove from the oven. Cool. Serve warm with extra coconut sauce if preferred.

February 2023 #BreadBakers Link:


  1. Good to know how nutritious those purple sweet potatoes are! I had no idea. Healthy and delicious!

  2. It's so interesting the range of sweet potatoes I see at the market. I don't know if I've seen Okinawan ones, but I'm going to look for them. I'd love to try these rolls!

  3. We adore pani popo and I love making purple sweet potato dough as well! Just made some cinnamon rolls with it a few weeks ago. So interesting how the purple varies throughout the year. Sometimes a pale dough and sometimes vivid, depending on the potatoes. We will definitely try these, they look awesome.

  4. What a pretty bun!! These are gorgeous.

  5. I love the lilac hue of these dinner rolls. Perfect for Valentine Day.

  6. Purple sweet potato is a favourite around here, I love the colour you got in these rolls!

  7. So pretty and tasty!