The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mid-Autumn Festival Special: Pineapple Char Siu Buns

Elsie_iu's picture

Mid-Autumn Festival Special: Pineapple Char Siu Buns

Mid-Autumn Festival is around the corner! In Hong Kong, lotus seed mooncakes (and other non-traditional varieties e.g. egg custard mooncakes and snowy mooncakes), stuffed glutinous rice dumplings in sweet soup and fruits like pomelo and star fruits are served. In case you’re wondering…No, we don’t celebrate it with pineapple char siu buns! The thing is, this Chinese festival triggers my craving for Chinese food.


HK Style Pineapple Char Siu Buns


Dough flour:

150g   100%   Whole wheat flour (I used extra finely grinded Indian atta flour)


For homemade char siu:

~250g   167%      Pork, cut into 3 pieces (pork shoulder is traditional but I just bought regular “lean pork”)

50g      33.3%      Store-bought char siu sauce

10g      6.67%      Shaoxing wine

-g              -%       Honey for brushing


For filling:

~120g    80%        Char siu (1/2 of homemade char siu above or sub with store-bought), cubed

~70g      43%        1/2 onion, finely diced

5g          14%        1 tsp cooking oil (I used peanut oil)

-g              -%        Reserved marinate

~70g   46.7 %       1 fresh pineapple ring, cut into six chunks       


For tang zhong:

15g        10%        Whole wheat flour

75g        29%        Water


For pineapple crust:

55g    36.7%      Whole wheat flour

30g      20%       Sugar

20g    13.3%      1 large egg yolk

20g    13.3%      Ghee (or 25g butter)

15g       10%      Water

-g             -%      1 tsp baking powder


For bread dough:

135g        90%      Whole wheat flour

37g       24.7%      1 large egg white

42g           28%     Water 

~90g         36%      All of the tang zhong

15g          10%       Sugar (optional. I don’t like sweet bread with sweet filling and crust so I skipped it)

2.5g      1.67%       Salt

0.79g    0.53%      1/4 tsp instant yeast


For egg wash:

-g               -%       Egg yolk


150g      100%     Whole Grain (bread dough part only)

150g      100%     Total hydration (including tang zhong)


Marinate the pork overnight or for at least 6 hours. Remove the pork from the fridge, letting excess marinade drip off. Reserve the remaining marinade. Preheat the oven at 400°, bake the pork on a rack in the middle/top layer depending on the size of your oven. Place an aluminium-foil-lined baking sheet at the bottom layer to collect any drip off. After 10 minutes, flip the pork and brush the side facing up with honey, bake for 5 more minutes or until charred on the edges. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

Make the filling. Cube the char siu into your desired size and finely dice half an onion. Heat oil in a pan/wok. Fry the onion at medium heat until lightly caramelized. Pour in the reserved marinade and cook until thickened. Dissolve 1 tsp of corn starch in 1 tbsp of water and add to the pan to thicken if necessary. Mix in the cubed pork then remove from fire. Refrigerate the mixture until needed.

Mix together the flour and water for the tang zhong and heat over medium-low, stirring continuously until thickened, about 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Mix thoroughly all dough. Combine roughly all dough ingredients except for salt and yeast, autolyse for 30 minutes. Mix in the reserved ingredients then slap and fold the dough until gluten is developed, around 10 minutes. Let ferment for 2 hours at room temperature then retard for 8-14 hours.

Make the pineapple crust by combining all ingredients and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes at a minimum. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Divide the cold dough into 6 equal pieces. Let them rest for 20 minutes. Place 1/6 of the filling into each dough piece then top with a chunk of pineapple. Bring the edges together and lightly pinch to seal. Let proof on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

5 minutes before baking, take the pineapple crust dough out of the fridge and divide it into 6 equal balls. Working quickly, flatten each ball with you palm then place it on top of the buns. Brush the crust with egg yolk.

Bake the buns at 400°F in the middle rack for 15 minutes or until the crust is browned to your liking. Let them cool for 15 minutes before serving.


The crust is quite crumby but not as much as those sold in Chinese bakeries. I guess that was the consequence of leaving baker’s ammonia, which traditional recipes call for, out of the formula. Another change I made for the crust formula was subbing ghee for lard, shortening or butter. I love the aroma of ghee but feel free to use the alternatives listed above.

Since I didn’t seal the dough properly, much of the juicy sauce leaked out onto the sheet pan…I’m certain that most of you can do a better job to yield an even juicer centre!


Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!


Danni3ll3's picture

 but your pictures made me hungry all over again. Everything is beautifully done!

Elsie_iu's picture

Since the crust and bread were both made with whole wheat flour, these buns should be considered a healthy snack, right?

Thanks for the compliment! Glad you like buns. They're my family's must-order whenever we go to have dim sum :)

dabrownman's picture

a dozen of these before I could decide whether they were decent or not:-)  But I might need another 6 just to make sure.  Just lovely, fruits with meat with carbs in the dough is a great combination.  Very nice and happy baking esie

Elsie_iu's picture

It surely doesn't sound good if a taste-tester has to eat a dozen of cookies or glasses of wine or blocks of cheese to make a judgement :)

Btw, you missed out the addictively aromatic ghee! It contributed a ton of flavor too. My mind is full of images of pineapple pastries 鳳梨酥 since I made these buns. What a greedy person...