Bread | Buns + rolls | Chinese treats | Global eats | Recipes | Tangzhong method | Yeast breads

Hong Kong style pineapple bun (bolo bao)

July 7, 2017
stacking pineapple bun
It has been the longest time since I’ve posted a recipe and I am ever so sorry for doing such. I’ve recently returned to Vancouver after my year abroad in Taiwan and settling back in has taken the longest time.
But now I’m back and ready to get back to my usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule.

 Since I’ve been back I’ve been asked numerous times as to why I’ve decided to return to Vancouver instead of staying another year or two in Taiwan.
And while family and friends being here is a big factor as to why I’ve decided to return, another thing that has brought me back over to this half of the globe is that I enjoy the food here more. I know it’s crazy. People go all the way over to Taiwan to enjoy the food at night markets and there I was wishing to come back to get my cup of kombucha with a side of quinoa salad.
It’s interesting how we manage to take things like the food, environment, and culture around us for-granted sometimes. What surprised me the most about the Taiwanese food scene was how obsessed they were with food from Hong-Kong!
Being of the ethnic background and having easy access to food of the culture at almost every corner in Vancouver, I have a particular craving for the food but people in Taiwan would line up around the block for the infamous pineapple buns!
stacking pineapple bun
 Yes. You read me right, pineapple buns! And the even more surprising thing is that they do NOT even contain pineapples!
The reason as to why they’re called pineapple buns is merely because the sweet crust on top crackles over it resembling the pattern of a pineapple. Which in that case, it is understandable as to why the Taiwanese love them so much…after all, they do adore their pineapples there.
 pineapple bun plated
 As a result, one of the first things I decided to make upon my return was the pineapple bun, or “bolo bao” in Cantonese.
If I had to compare it to anything, it is similar to a Mexican concha bun or Japanese melon pan. Essentially it’s a soft Asian style milk bun topped with a sugar cookie type dough to create a contrast of flavor and texture.
fluffy bolo bao
 The most important part about the whole process is making sure that your cookie topping has firmed up enough in the fridge before you try to put it onto the unbaked dough.
If the dough is too soft, it will tear apart and melt off the buns in the oven and trust me, that’s not a pretty sight. It took me a good three trials before I finally got it right!
 pineapple bun unbaked
Despite the fact that it took numerous rounds of trial and error, the end product is always totally worth the effort. These actually used to be brother deer’s favorite type of Asian bread until he discovered the wonders of adzuki bean but that’s a recipe for another day.
I hope you all decide to try these out sometime because they are a delightfully sweet way to start off your day. It’s also fun when you add different natural flavoring powders to the sugar dough or cut them into different shapes to see how it bakes out in the end!
Cantonese pineapple bun
Hong Kong style pineapple bun (bolo bao)
A Hong-Kong style milk bun topped with a sugar crust to create a contrast of flavors and textures. Perfect for breakfast or as an afternoon snack for high-tea!
: Bread
Yield: 10
  • 200g warm water
  • 200g warm milk of choice
  • 100g vegetable oil
  • 700g all-purpose flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 2½ tsp baker's yeast
  • 170g cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon custard powder (optional for colour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100 g sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Let rest until it begins to get foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, add in the all-purpose flour, salt, oil and warm milk. Stir until a rough dough forms. When the yeast mixture is ready, mix it in until a dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough with an electric mixer using dough hooks for 5 minutes or by hand for 10 minutes until elastic. The dough should spring back when you poke at it.
  4. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. While the dough is rising, prepare the crust topping by creaming the sugar and butter together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks and salt until a thick paste forms. Stir in the cake flour, baking powder and custard powder. Roll the dough out into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap and allow for it to chill in the fridge.
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, divide it into 10 equal pieces and roll them into buns. Place the buns on a lined cookie sheet and allow for them to rise for 30 mins.
  7. When the buns are done with their second rise, remove the dough for the crust topping from the fridge. Slice it into 10 equal coins. Roll each of them out with a rolling pin until they are ½ cm thick circles. Place one on top of each bun.
  8. Bake the buns in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350F
  9. Consume buns with butter in the middle or on it's own. They are best enjoyed within 2-3 days. Store them in an airtight container.

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This post was created for Fiesta Friday, a weekly foodie link-up party. Please feel free to come join the fun, I promise you won’t regret it!

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    1. Thanks! I just changed my layout. I love the gingerade one too! I’ve yet to try the Hibiscus and the new beet one!

  1. The buns sounds lovely! I have never tried them but heard of them and never realized there isn’t any pineapple in them! Thank you for bringing this to Fiesta Friday 🙂

  2. I love pineapple buns with all my being. Anywhere particular in Taiwan you’d recommend getting them? I’m heading for Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung and probably Green Island 🙂

    1. From when I was living there, there are pineapple buns at night markets like the Raohe one in Taipei. The ones at a bakery called “Ho ho Mei” is pretty good too! If you’re a bread lover there’s a famous bread shop called Wu Pao Chun that everyone lines up for. For cheaper bakeries I like Semeur (croissants are so good!) or I think that bread in Taiwan is super fluffy and yummy in general so you won’t have a problem with getting good ones! I have yet to go to Green Island and Tainan so let me know if you find any good eats there!

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