Make these sticky iced coconut buns, then check out our coconut cake, coconut macaroons, coconut lamingtons and more coconut recipes. For more bun ideas try our Chelsea buns, cinnamon buns and cardamom buns.

"Iced fingers or sticky buns were always a treat for me growing up, eaten on holidays to Northern Ireland visiting my family. Soft cakey bread topped with sugary icing and a sprinkling of coconut. Cut the buns in half and spread liberally with salted butter to elevate them to salty-sweet perfection." Deputy food editor Adam Bush.

How to make perfect iced buns

1. Leavening

Dried yeast is a collection of single cell organisms that will feed on the sugar and starch in the flour, butter, milk, eggs and sugar, which creates pockets of carbon dioxide gas that cause dough to rise.

2. Ideal temperature

Yeast is quite particular in what it likes – too cold and it won’t thrive, too hot and it dies. It’s happiest between 20C-40C – this is why the milk is heated gently at the beginning, to get the dough’s temperature right. Also, when using fast-action yeast, which has been dehydrated to keep it dormant, mixing it with the warm milk allows it to hydrate before going into the dough so it can hit the ground running.

3. Kneads must

This dough includes butter, eggs and milk (known as an enriched dough) meaning it’s going to have a much stickier texture than normal bread dough. It will be much harder to knead – try not to add too much flour – but by building up the gluten strength through kneading and slapping it, more gas will be trapped within resulting in a taller, lighter bun.

4. Proof positive

After the initial prove, the reason for shaping and proving again is that dough needs to be shaped into balls so that it can remain separate when baked.

5. Know when to stop

Don’t let the dough more than double in size. It is possible to over-prove, causing the buns to deflate in the oven because the gluten has been stretched beyond its strength and will collapse.

6. Golden time

Brushing the dough with milk before baking will help to achieve a deep golden colour as the sugar in the milk will caramelise as it cooks


  • 225ml whole milk, plus extra to glaze
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast-action yeast
  • 450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g caster sugar
  • a pinch sea salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut


  • STEP 1

    Put the milk and butter into a pan and heat until just warm. Remove from the heat, tip in the yeast and whisk really well. Leave to sit for 5 minutes.

  • STEP 2

    Tip the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl then whisk in the eggs. Gradually pour in the milk mixture, using your hands to mix and fully incorporate the liquid until it forms a very sticky dough. Don’t worry, though – it will become less sticky once kneaded. Tip out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for 5 minutes, adding a little more flour if needed, until a really smooth, soft dough forms. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave until doubled in size.

  • STEP 3

    Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worksurface and shape into 8 balls, then arrange in a base-lined, deep, 20cm springform cake tin. Leave to prove again until doubled in size.

  • STEP 4

    Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Brush the buns with milk, then put into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden on top. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool fully.

  • STEP 5

    Whisk together the icing sugar and a little lemon juice until thickened, then pour all over the cooled buns. Sprinkle over the dessicated coconut and serve, torn into sections, with butter, if you like.


Adam Bush Chef Portrait
Adam BushDeputy food editor

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