The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The elusive bakery memories of my youth: pineapple buns

Chausiubao's picture

The elusive bakery memories of my youth: pineapple buns

I've made quite a few batches of pineapple buns by now. So much so that I've got my own nicely formatted excel spreadsheet with all the relevant information about the latest particular incarnation of the pineapple bun (including the topping, though that is on a different spreadsheet). I will attempt here to explain it in as much detail as possible. And God willing, it will actually come out, seeing as how I've only just mixed it to rest, and have yet to finish mixing it, let alone doing all the other bready type things it still requires before I can eat it. Let us begin!

One nice thing about my method is there is no need to measure any water temperatures! With the addition of pre-gelatinized flour, I cook it before I start mixing and generally my final dough comes out around 80F, which, while a tad bit warm, is quite workable. That being said, there are three stages in my method for pineapple buns; mixing the pineapple topping, cooking the pre-gelatinized flour, and finally the actual mixing and preparation of the bun dough.
So we start with the topping,

Butter 81 g

Sugar 111 g

Egg Yolk 40 g

Sweetened condensed milk 60 g

Evaporated milk 60 g

Bread flour 252 g

Milk powder 14 g

Baking powder 20 g


Mix up by the creaming method. So basically, cream the sugar and the butter, then fold in the eggs, followed by the liquids and then by the dries. Then wrap it up and chill it while you finish up the second and third parts.

Onto the pre-gelatinized flour (PGF); I've been following convention and doing 6% PGF, so that amounts to this formula,

Bread flour 58 g

Milk 290 g


This is pretty simple, just heat up the flour in a pan with about equal parts of flour and milk, then as it heats and as the flour dissolves, add successively more milk until all the milk is in. You will be cooking the flour until it forms a thick paste, in other words when it has obviously gelled.

Now for the bread part of the equation, you can scale all the ingredients, except for salt, directly into your mixing bowl, I have a planetary mixer, so I throw all the ingredients into there, being careful that ingredients that shouldn't touch don't (like eggs and sugar, hot flour paste and yeast).

Bread flour 907 g

Sugar 183 g

Butter 77 g

Salt 10 g

Yeast 15 g

Milk powder 24 g

Eggs 145 g

PGF 350 g


And because of the personality quirks of the planetary mixer I have my liquids in the bottom of the bowl, as much as possible at the very least. The mix starts off with the paddle for incorporation, then I switch to the dough hook for three minutes, the point at which all the ingredients seem equally distributed. Now I've thrown the salt in, and allowed it to rest for 15 minutes.

Another 3 minutes on first speed is for mixing in the salt, then it needs to be developed on second speed, however long it takes is however long it takes. Here it is after 7 minutes.

And again after 18 minutes on second speed. Needless to say it takes a long time to mix. When you combine the butter, sugar, and milk, it is quite the hydrated dough, but with time it will be properly developed.

At 80F it will be about 45 minutes to bulk ferment, give it a fold out of the mixer. Once this is completed, the dough was divided at 75 grams, rounded and placed eight to a papered sheet pan. Once proofed the rounds were topped with the pineapple bun topping, a flattened round about two inches across and baked at 375F for about 12 minutes.

I think I've narrowed down the bake to 375F fom 10 to 12 minutes. The mixing as well was spot on, with a 15 minute pre-development rest done without the salt and an 18 minute development phase on second speed. What still confounds me is the placing of the cookie dough on top of the dough prior to the bake. Sometimes the oven spring grows the round so that the cookie dough grows on the side of the round rather then right on top. That may mean that I need to use a thinner piece of cookie dough, but not so thin that it tears as the round grows. Quite the conundrum.



ww's picture


this is not the bolo bao, right? because if i'm not wrong, that doesnt contain any pineapple at all, just that the top splits to ressemble a pineapple. Reading your post i have some questions.

I see you use baking powder. This is a first for me! What is the purpose of the baking powder? And you said to ensure that in throwing the ingredients in the mixer, things that shouldn't touch don't. Can you elaborate? And finally, do you find that mixing for so long heats up the dough? I have a problem with that. In trying to develop the gluten, i've found that enriched doughs especially can get really warm, and i suspect that's why the yeast then takes off at a phenomenal pace and i have experienced too rapid fermentation, and even over-fermentation. Do you have a similar experience??

thanks! The buns look nice. Is the pineapple topping just pineapple paste?

Chausiubao's picture

Bolo bao, or the pineapple bun, has never had pineapple in it. But, that being said, it is still called the pineapple bun, or the bolo bao, because it does resemble the pineapple as the top cookie cracks during the bake. So while it does not contain pineapple (which can be remedied, I assure you) it is still called bolo bao, pineapple bun. The baking powder is part of the pineapple bun topping. It is a cookie dough that goes on top (not a pineapple paste, but then again, I'm not sure what you mean by that). Anyway, the baking powder is used as a leavener for the cookie so that it cracks properly on top. As for heating up the dough, if you find the dough really does heat up too quickly you can formulate a base temperature for your mixing so that you can more explicityly control your temperature. Do you have any experience working with base temperatures? It is a way you control temperature by using a specific water temperature. You find this water temperature by measuring your flour and ambient air temperature, then subtracting them from a base temperature of your own formulation. However, if your dough is moving too quickly and overfermenting, you will have to divide your dough earlier or adjust your formulas by reducing yeast. But I find it a simpler matter to simply reduce my water temperature.

Chausiubao's picture


foolishpoolish's picture

Lovely bo lo bao, chausiubao! The only things missing are an oh-so-healthy wedge of butter sandwiched between a split bun and a HK-style milk tea :) 

ww's picture

oh ok, my mistake didnt see that the top recipe was for the crackling topping. thanks for the clarification and yeah, i know abt dough temperature but am usually too lazy for that :))

and i second that milk tea suggestion! merry christmas everyone!