Originating from Penang, Malaysia, Rotiboy made a sweeping wave in Singapore in 2004, but I only tried my first Rotiboy in 2006 when I worked in a firm located in Raffles Place, the financial hub of Singapore. It was a love-hate relationship for me as I am lactose-intolerant and often develop migraines if I consume too much dairy butter. Sometimes, it only takes a slice of butter cake to upset my system. I loved the bun for the little surprise wrapped within the bun, which is the melted butter! The bun perfectly matched the coffee crust topping with the buttery sensation, and no wonder the vendor put a quantity limitation on each patron!
My cooking journey truly begins with my husband. My American husband is a decade-long vegan, and while I am not a vegan, I rarely consume non-vegan products. I wished to share so many delicious southeast Asian food and snacks with him when he visited Singapore before we got married, and Rotiboy was one of them, but they are not vegan.
I have been veganizing recipes as close to the original version as possible to share my experiences with him. I have heightened olfactory sensory, which helps recreate tastes based on my memories and experiences; I aim to achieve 80-90% likeness in veganized recipes.
I have changed the coffee crust topping to cinnamon flavor because my husband loves the cinnamon flavor, but I plan to make the coffee flavor at some point.
Outcome: The husband loved the buns! He was amazed at how the liquified butter leaked when he tore the bun apart (for the video). We kept a few for the next day, and while the butter was more or less absorbed into the bun, the center of the bun retained a distinct and prominent flavor of the butter. It was phenomenal!
#Recipe adapted from “nyonyacooking.com coffee buns foolproof.”
Rotiboy Cinnamon Buns – Easy and Vegan Friendly
This recipe makes the famous Rotiboy buns in cinnamon flavor crust, and we are sharing the secret method to keep the butter within the buns during and after baking. This recipe is dairy-free and egg-free!
(Apologies for the video that is missing the steps for the dough.)
Dough - Part 1
Dough - Part 2
Cinnamon Crust Topping
Freeze Butter Before Starting on Dough
Divide vegan butter into 6 portions. Use cling wrap to wrap the individual butter cubes. Freeze while you proceed to make the dough. *I use a vegan butter stick where there are tbsp markings.Ingredients: 3 tbsp vegan butter
Dough - Part 1
In a large mixing bowl, combine and mix all-purpose flour, instant yeast, soy milk powder, and granulated sugar.Ingredients: 200 grams all-purpose flour; 1 ¼ tsp instant yeast; 1 ¼ tsp soy milk powder; 2 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
Dough - Part 2
Gradually stir in almond milk and mix using a spatula, then hand-knead to a rough ball (about 2 minutes).Ingredients: 110 grams almond milk
Transfer dough to a kneading mat (or lightly floured surface) and add vegan butter and salt to the dough. It will be messy at first. Knead till the butter is fully absorbed by the dough. Pick up the dough and throw it on the kneading surface, and quickly grab with a claw-like motion and pull the dough up, and keep repeating. Kneading is complete when you wet your fingers to pinch a small piece of the dough and stretch out the dough and it doesn't break - windowpane test.Ingredients: 2 tbsp cold vegan butter; ½ tsp salt
Lightly grease the mixing bowl with butter (or olive oil) and roll the dough to coat. Cover with cling wrap (I use a food-grade shower cap) and let rise in a warm place for an hour. I usually just leave the oven light on and place the dough to rise in the oven.
While the dough is proofing, proceed to prepare the cinnamon crust topping.
Cinnamon Crust Topping
Mix ground cinnamon with 1 tbsp water, and set aside.Ingredients: 1 tbsp ground cinnamon; 1 tbsp water
Using a handheld mixer or whisk (takes longer) to cream butter and sugar till fluffy.Ingredients: ¾ cups confectioner's sugar; 6 tbsp vegan butter
Mix 1 ½ tbsp of egg replacer with 3 tbsp of water, and let it sit for a minute.Ingredients: 1 ½ tbsp Bob Mills egg replacer; 3 tbsp water
Add cinnamon mixture to the creamed butter and mix till roughly combined, then add vegan egg and mix till combined. The mixture will look clumpy and wet.
Add all-purpose flour and fold till fully incorporated.Ingredients: 100 grams all purpose flour
Chill the cinnamon topping in the fridge until ready to use.
Wrapping and Shaping the Dough
The dough should be almost double the original size after proofing. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into 6 big portions and 6 small portions. Mine turned out to be around 15g each for small dough balls, and 45g each for the big dough balls.
Bring out the frozen butter and remove the wrappings.
Flatten the small dough ball and place the butter in the center. Pull up the edges of the dough and pinch the seam close. Make sure the seam is close to prevent the butter from leaking. Repeat for the rest of the small dough balls.
Now, flatten the big dough ball and place the wrapped butter dough in the center with the seam facing down. Pull the edges of the dough and pinch the seam close, again making sure that the seam is fully closed. Repeat for the rest of the big dough balls.
Line the parchment paper on a baking sheet and place the doughs apart from one another.
Cover the doughs with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise for 45 minutes.
Fifteen minutes before the proofing is complete, preheat the oven to 375℉ or 190℃.
Piping The Topping
Five minutes before the proofing is complete, bring out the cinnamon topping from the refrigerator and transfer it to a piping bag.
When the dough is done proofing, pipe the cinnamon topping on the dough in a circular pattern and cover as much of the dough surface as possible.
Bake the buns for about 12 minutes.
Remove buns from the oven and cool them on a cooling rack.
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 426kcal
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 16.1g25%
- Saturated Fat 2.8g14%
- Sodium 387mg17%
- Potassium 82mg3%
- Total Carbohydrate 60.1g21%
- Dietary Fiber 2.6g11%
- Sugars 20.1g
- Protein 6.7g14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- I use Country Crock avocado butter stick, it is unsalted.
- Using the claw and slap method, the dough turns out to be soft and light. The baked buns are very fluffy and light too.
- The topping will melt, more so without the use of real eggs, so don't be alarmed. We just eat the melted crust as snacks!
Frequently Asked Questions
Feel free to add salt or sugar to the butter before freezing.
The buns are best consumed within hours of baking as the crust will most definitely become soft.; the butter filling will also be gradually absorbed into the bun. We couldn't finish them all, so we stored them in an air-tight container, and air-fry for 5 minutes the next day. Although the butter was no longer flowing out, there was still a small pocket of damp butter layer.