The name pineapple bun is a misnomer; there is no pineapple in the bun. I believe it’s called pineapple bun because the cookie crust on top makes it look like a pineapple. If you search Google, you’ll find that Pineapple buns originated from Hong Kong, but you can pretty much find them anywhere there is a Chinese population. Japan has something similar called “Melonpan”, which literally translates to Melon bun. Again, there is no melon in the bun; it just looks like a melon. I’ve made both Japanese and Hong Kong versions, the main difference is in the cookie dough that tops the bun. I’ve recently found out that the Hong Kong version uses ammonia bicarb to create the cracked effect. In the Japanese version, typically you would cut the pattern directly onto the cookie dough with a dough scraper.
This is the second time I’ve made pineapple buns. During our trip to Taiwan, I bought a pineapple bun at a bakery chain called 85 cafe (85度C). Their pineapple bun is a Danish style bun, which means there’s a lot of butter involved to create the multiple layers. Initially I wanted to experiment with re-creating this Danish style pineapple bun, but I couldn’t find a recipe anywhere online. In addition to that, any Danish pastry would require a large amount of butter, so I was hesitant.
I actually did find a recipe book in Taiwan that had the recipe for the Danish Pineapple Bun, but I didn’t buy it at that time and I’m regretting my decision. I thought I would be able to find something online, turns out I couldn’t.
Regardless, I went online for a HK style pineapple bun and took the one from here: http://www.pigpigscorner.com/2011/01/pineapple-bun-bo-luo-bao-by-christines.html?m=1
This recipe works really well. Both times the buns came out nicely. I added a bit of a twist though this time, I decided to add a milk powder filling (奶酥)to fill the bun. It’s not a custard, and it’s supposed to be dry and grainy. Here is where I took the recipe: http://caroleasylife.blogspot.com/2013/09/blog-post_29.html
The first step is to make the cookie dough.
We were lucky to find Amonium Bicarb at our local Asian supermarket. I don’t even think I’ve seen these when I was in Vancouver. The cookie dough is rolled out into a long log and left to hardened slightly in the fridge while we move on with the “tang zong”. Tang zong is basicaly 1 part flour to 5 parts water heated up into a paste. This makes the bread more moist and is a popular method of making bread in Asia.
Next step is to prepare the bread dough:
The dough is quite sticky, but both times I’ve done this it has been like this and it always works out. I let the dough sit for about 1.5 hours and it doubled in size.
I put some boiling water in the turned off oven where I proofed the dough. Otherwise, I don’t think it would rise as nicely if it was sitting out on the counter.
While the dough was rising, I made the milk powder filling:
I couldn’t find milk powder at Loblaw’s, but I managed to find some at Sobey’s.
It’s finally time to divide the dough into equal parts. The recipe makes 12 buns, but I only have 8 molds, so I had slightly bigger buns.
I put in a little less than 1 Tablespoon of the filling into each piece of dough and twisted and closed the end tightly. My main concern was the milk filling leaking out of the bun, since it’s just butter, sugar and milk powder.
The buns are left to double in sized again for a second proofing.
Once the second proofing is done, I prepared the cookie crust that would sit on top of the dough:
A brush of egg yolk on top and it’s ready for the oven!
Here’s the finished product! This will be Bill’s breakfast for the next week (I don’t eat breakfast) 🙂
I think it turned out quite well! The filling turned out nicely and it didn’t leak out or make the bun greasy. I’m still tempted to try the Danish style pineapple bun but I might take a break from pineapple buns before I experiment with them again 🙂
Thanks for reading!