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How to Make Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)

5 from 9 reviews

Pineapple buns are classic pastries that you can find in Hong Kong style bakeries. The bun is soft and slightly sweet and it’s topped with a golden crunchy, crumbly crust. This pineapple bun recipe uses ingredients that you can find in any grocery store.

Scale

Ingredients

Tangzhong 

Dough

Topping

Egg Wash 

Equipment

Instructions

Make the Tangzhong

  1. Whisk the flour and water inside a saucepan until the flour dissolves. (See note 3 for microwave directions.)
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir the mixture frequently. In about a minute, the flour will start to thicken. Don’t walk away during this process as you can quickly burn the tangzhong! Once the flour develops into a light paste, turn off the heat.
  3. Transfer the tangzhong to a bowl to cool. It will thicken as it cools.

Prepare the Dough for Buns

  1. Grease a large mixing bowl with oil. Set it aside. 
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the milk for about 40 to 45 seconds. Add the sugar to the milk. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk. It should be around 110ºF to 120ºF. It’s okay if you are just several degrees off. 
  3. Add the yeast and stir to hydrate the yeast. Let it sit for 5 to 8 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. After 5 to 8 minutes, the milk/yeast mixture will foam up.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread flour, salt, condensed milk, egg, melted butter, tangzhong and the foamy milk/yeast mixture. 
  5. Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Mix the dough on low for 10 minutes (see note 4). If the dough completely spins away from the dough hook after a few minutes, turn off the mixer. Readjust the dough right into the center of the bowl and position the dough hook in the center of the dough. Run the mixer on “stir” for 15 seconds or so before you increase the speed to low.
  6. After 10 minutes, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a surface and knead it several times. The dough shouldn’t be sticky, so you do not need to flour the surface.
  7. Shape the dough into a ball and place inside the greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic or silicone mat. Let the dough rise in a warm area for about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, until the dough doubles in size. 

Prepare the Dough for Topping

  1. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the flat beater attachment. Cream the butter on medium-low until it is light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the superfine sugar in two batches. The mixture will look very crumbly at this point, and that’s okay.
  2. Next, add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla, and mix on low until just combined. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and turmeric. Add half of the flour to the bowl with the wet ingredients, and mix on low until the flour is combined. Then, add the remaining flour and mix again. Once all the loose flour has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium-low, and keep mixing until the dough starts to come together into large chunks. 
  4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a surface. Gather it up into one large ball of dough. Transfer this to another bowl and cover it with a towel or silicone mat until the buns are done proofing.

Shape the Buns (Use Photos in Blog Post for Reference)

  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Once doubled, punch down the dough to release excess air. Turn the dough onto a work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions (450 to 456 grams each). Place 1 portion of dough back into the bowl, cover it, and refrigerate while you shape the first batch of buns.
  3. Next, divide the remaining dough into 6 equal pieces (74 to 76 grams each). Take one of the pieces of dough and knead it several times to get rid of any air bubbles. Then, shape this dough into a ball and transfer it to the lined baking sheet, seam side down. The dough should be about 2 inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces of dough.
  4. Cover the balls of dough with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes, until they increase to 1.5 times its size (about 3 inches in diameter). 
  5. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. If you want more golden looking pineapple buns, preheat the oven to 385ºF. Position an oven rack to the center position.

Add the Topping and Bake (Use Photos in Blog Post for Reference)

  1. While the buns are proofing, divide the dough for the topping into 12 pieces (about 27 to 29 grams each). Roll each piece into a ball.
  2. Take a plastic storage bag, and cut off the zipper. Continue cutting the bag along the edges so that you have 2 large sheets of plastic. You’ll be rolling the topping in between these plastic sheets.
  3. In a small bowl, prepare the egg wash by whisking an egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of milk.
  4. After the buns are done proofing, start rolling out the topping. 
  5. Take a ball of the topping dough and place it on the center of a plastic sheet. Lightly flatten the dough out with the palm of your hand. Then, cover the flattened disc with the other sheet of plastic. Roll out the dough until you get a circle that is 3.5 to 3.75 inches wide. 
  6. Peel off the top sheet of plastic, turn the topping onto your hand and carefully peel off the other sheet of plastic. 
  7. Drape the topping over one of the buns. The topping shouldn’t cover the bun completely. The topping can burn if it touches the bottom of the baking sheet. Continue rolling out the topping and draping it over the buns.
  8. Brush the tops of the buns with egg wash. 
  9. Bake the buns for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden. 
  10. Once the first batch of buns is in the oven, prepare the second batch of buns and bake. 
  11. Let the buns cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  12. Enjoy the buns while they’re still warm! That’s when they are the tastiest.

Notes

  1. Sweetened Condensed Milk: I use it to give the dough a sweet, milky flavor. You can substitute it with 2 tablespoons instant milk powder and 3 tablespoons of sugar. If you don’t have either sweetened condensed milk or milk powder, just use 3 tablespoons of sugar instead.
  2. Superfine Sugar is merely more finely ground granulated sugar. I am using it for this recipe because it dissolves easier and it gives the topping a nice crunch. Some brands label this as “ultrafine sugar.” If you can’t find any, you can blend regular granulated sugar in a food processor until the sugar is more finely ground. While you can use powdered sugar, the topping won’t be as crunchy. Furthermore, the powdered sugar topping goes completely soft the next day, whereas the superfine sugar topping retains a lot of its crunch.
  3. Place the bowl into the microwave, and heat the flour and water mixture for 20 seconds on high. Take the bowl out of the microwave, stir everything and check the consistency of the mixture. Continue heating the mixture at 5 to 6 second intervals, stirring in between, until you get a thick paste. 
  4. Because of the large amount of dough in the bowl, the mixer will shake pretty violently if you try to mix the dough at a higher speed. For the sake of preserving the longevity of my stand mixer, I opted to mix the dough at a lower speed.

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