Chinese Pineapple Buns

This is the the traditional Chinese Pineapple Bun, also known as the bolo bao.  It seems to be a very popular item in Chinese style cafes, and served with a slice of butter in the middle.  For those of you that have tried this, have you ever wondered why they call this a pineapple bun, when there is no trace of pineapple in it, whatsoever?  I have.  After an extensive google search, the reason why they call this a pineapple bun, is because the top crust becomes checkered top when it bakes, which resembles the image of a pineapple.  I decided to give it a try with the limited knowledge of baking with yeast.  I was pleasantly surprised that the outcome was better than I expected.

Ingredients for water roux (also known as the tangzhong roux):
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup milk

Ingredients for topping:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup milk
2 cup cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder

Ingredients for buns:
2 cups bread flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. milk powder (no skim milk powder)
22 grams fresh yeast (if using instant dry yeast, 1 package)
1 1/2 whisked egg (use the other half for egg wash)
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water roux
1/4 cup  butter, melted
Additional flour for working surface

Egg wash:  1/2 egg + 1 tbsp. milk

Water roux:  First off, the water roux will need to be made, as it needs time to cool.  Mix the flour with the milk, making sure that there are no lumps (I poured it through a strainer, into the pot).  Cook over medium-low heat.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, to prevent burning and sticking to the pot.

The mixture will become thicker and thicker.  Once you have reached to a pudding or a cake filling consistency, it’s done.  Remove from the heat.

Transfer into a clean bowl.  Cover with a saran wrap, sticking to the surface of the roux, to prevent a film layer from developing.  Let it cool.  Should cool to be at about room temperature.

Topping:  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, baking soda and milk.  Mix well.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and mix by hand until it’s smooth and not sticky.  ***Be careful not to overwork the dough***

Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Buns:  In a large bowl, combine bread flour, sugar, salt and milk powder.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, whipping cream, milk and water roux.

Sift the dry ingredients onto a clean surface.  Make a fair size well in the mixture and add the yeast, then the wet ingredients.  Carefully combine the mixture.  When the ingredients have come together, pour in the melted butter.  The mixture should feel very stick in the beginning (DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR).  Continue kneading until smooth and elastic like.  Once the dough is no longer sticking to the surface while kneading, the first kneading process is complete.  Shape the dough into a boule (making sure that there is tension on the surface).  Place in a well greased bowl and let the dough complete the 1st round of proofing (about 40 minutes), best temperature at about 28°C.

Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface.  Deflate and divide into 12 equal portions.  Cover lightly with a damp paper towel and let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Flatten each portion of the dough to deflate and roll into a round shape, again with tension on the surface of the buns.  Place on cookie sheet for second round of proofing (about 40 minutes), best temperature at about 38°C.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Carefully divide the topping into 12 portions and flatten each portion between the plastic wrap.  Place on top of the buns after the second proofing.  Brush whisked egg on surface.  Bake on middle rack for about 20-25 minutes.  Until golden brown on the surface.

Pineapple Buns


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