Buko Pie (translated in English as Coconut Pie) is a type of pastry that centers on the flavor and texture of coconut. It originates from Los Baños, Laguna (a town in Luzon, Philippines) where it was said to have been pioneered by the Pahud sisters. One of the sisters, Soledad Pahud, tried to make the apple pie after coming home from America but couldn’t find any apples. She instead replaced apples with coconut and this made a distinct version of the pie which is uniquely Filipino.
Essential Components for Buko Pie:
Buko Meat. One cannot have buko pie without coconut meat. Usually taken from ripe, tender and medium-sized coconuts. Quality coconut meat is taken from the lining along the inner shell of the fruit. The meat is bright white, generally firm but soft to the touch. Fresh coconut meat is naturally sweet and its texture juicy but crunchy. If stored for a long time, it can be tough and fibrous.
Flour. Buko Pie uses all-purpose flour or plain flour, unlike other typical Filipino desserts that use rice flour. Adapting the recipe from the apple pie, local cooks devise a way of keeping the recipe just as it is - with only minimal adjustments to the measurements and a few replacements to the original ingredients. For the crust, the flour is rolled up into a thin layer to make sure that the flavor of the coconut stands out. Flour in the filling allows the custard to bind with the coconut.
Butter. The recipe calls for chilled butter to be cubed and for it to be mixed well into the flour using a food processor. This is to make sure there is an even browning when the pie bakes. Along with the salt, the flavor of the butter in the crust should contain the creaminess of the coconut while achieving a balance of different flavors.
Pie Filling. If there is one thing that makes the buko pie unique from its American counterpart (besides apples), it’s the filling. It is a diluted custard filling because it uses powdered milk instead of cow’s milk. The recipe does not include nutmeg and cinnamon so its sweetness heavily lies in the sugar and vanilla added before the filling is poured into the crust. The filling is expected to solidify softly with the coconut and as you bite into it, there must be a good ratio of custard to coconut.
How to Make Traditional Buko (Coconut) Pie:
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40-60 minutes
Ingredients For the crust
Ingredients For the filling
Optional: 1/2 cup macapuno
Step 1: Preheat the oven at 170C or 338F.
Step 2: To prepare the crust, combine the 2 cups flour and 1/2 tsp salt in the food processor and mix.
Step 3: Next cut 1/2 cup of cold butter into cubes and put it in the flour mixture. Press the pulse function to operate the machine.
Step 4: While pulsing, add 1 tsp of vinegar, 1 egg and 1/2 cold water. Again, pulse until the flour is moist and has a crumble-like texture.
Step 5: Gather the dough into a big pile and divide them into two. Flatten each dough while covering it in a plastic wrapper. Place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator and let it chill for 30 minutes.
Step 6: Start preparing the filling by combining the following dry ingredients: 1 1/2 tsp powdered milk, 3/4 sugar and 1/2 cup flour in a bowl. Mix well with a fork and then add the 1/8 tsp of salt. Mix again and then set aside.
Step 7: In a measuring glass or any container that can hold liquid, combine 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 1 egg. Mix everything well together.
Step 8: Once mixed, add the wet ingredients slowly with the dry ingredients. If the batter is not smooth enough, add more water and continue stirring. Make sure everything is smooth in the final mixture.
Step 9: Take the dough out of the refrigerator and put the dough in between two cling wraps to prevent it from sticking. Roll the dough at 1/8 mm thickness - enough to fit in the pie pan.
Step 10: Put the rolled dough on top of the pie pan to fit the shape of the pan and minimize air pockets. To avoid any cracks on the crust, prick holes along the sides and at the center using a fork. And with a knife, remove the excess dough from the sides.
Step 11: Add 3 tbsps of filling in the center of the pie and spread with a spatula. Add 1/2 cup of young coconut meat followed by the rest of the pie filling.
Step 12: Cover the pie with the other half of the dough crust that was chilled earlier. Seal the top and bottom dough with your fingers to close the pie.
Step 13: Prick some holes on the top of the pie with a fork. Crack an egg and with a pastry brush, apply it to the top and sides of the coconut (buko) pie.
Step 14: Bake the coconut (buko) pie for 45 to 60 minutes. Make sure the bottom of the crust is evenly cooked. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before putting it on a serving dish. Serves 4-5 people.
How to Make Buko (Coconut) Tarts
Coconut tarts are another way to enjoy the Buko pie but in bite-sized pieces.
Ingredients For the pastry
Ingredients For the filling
*Desiccated coconut are used as main ingredients or toppings for pastries such as tarts and macarons. They retain more moisture than shredded coconut and is grated finely. It has a subtle sweetness when you taste it.
How to Prepare Desiccated Coconut:
- To prepare one cup of desiccated coconut, break a fresh, whole coconut into two halves using a hammer or a knife.
- Remove the coconut meat from its shell and peel the brown outer skin using a vegetable peeler.
- Cut the coconut meat into small pieces.
- Using a food processor, grind the coconut to get the gratings.
- In a thick bottom pan, transfer the gratings and fry in low heat until they are dry. Cook until the texture is similar to dried flakes.
Directions in Baking the Coconut Tarts
Step 1: For the tart crust, mix 70g of butter in a bowl along with 25g of icing sugar. Mix until they are thoroughly combined.
Step 2: Add the 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. Mix until the milk is incorporated.
Step 3: Using a whisk, further combine all the ingredients until you have a thick and runny consistency.
Step 4: Fold in the flour to the egg mixture in the bowl. Place the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator as the filling is being prepared.
Tip: For the sticky dough, add more flour.
Step 5: Preheat the oven at 200C/392F.
Step 6: Combine the 1/3 cup of milk and 8g desiccated coconut in a saucepan. Mix well.
Step 7: In a saucepan, add 50g of granulated sugar, 5 tsp of condensed milk, 1 pinch of salt and 1 tsp of vanilla. Cook in low to medium heat and stir occasionally so the mixture does not stick. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat. Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool while we prepare the tart tins.
Step 8: Lightly grease the tart tins with butter to avoid the crust sticking to the bottom.
Step 9: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and take 15g (about a small handful) and form it into a ball. Press it to shape the sides of the tart tin. Trim the excess dough. Prick the dough with a fork. Repeat the process for the rest of the tart tins.
Step 10: Once all the tins are done, place them on the baking tray and put them inside the refrigerator to set.
Step 11: For the last touches on the filling before baking, add the baking soda and mix.
Step 12: Add the 2 eggs: putting one at a time before mixing thoroughly. Remove the brown specks of coconut husks.
Step 13: Remove the tart shells from the refrigerator and place a tsp of coconut filling inside the tart shell.
Step 14: Bake the tarts for 10 minutes at 200C/392F then lower the temperature to 180C/356F for 15 to 20 minutes. The tarts should be golden brown.
Step 15: Let the tarts cool in a rack for 5-6 minutes before removing them from the tins. Serves 12-15 people.
The usability of the coconut makes it an ideal ingredient for desserts. Because of its tender meat, sweet flavor and health benefits, more people see it as an alternative to other processed food items that have a high amount of sugar.
Fresh coconut meat is easy to extract (see the recipe for desiccated coconut above) and its other parts like coconut juice and dried coconut shell that can be used for other purposes. It can go with other fruits or good enough to be eaten on its own with or without ice.
Buko pies and buko tarts are just the beginning of the vast of recipes that you can make with coconuts. I hope the recipes we have introduced have sparked a different type of creativity in you. Happy cooking, as always!