As a child, I remember whenever we would visit my grandparents and there would sometimes be a box of assorted Chinese bakery goods on the kitchen table. Most often, there would be BBQ pork buns, red bean buns, and egg tarts, but once in a while there would be cocktail buns (gei mei bao) and pineapple buns (bo lo bao). I always fancied the “special” buns such as the cream-filled cocktail buns and lightly sweetened pineapple buns.
Crunchy, yet soft and buttery, pineapple buns (bo lo bao) are a misnomer. There are no actual pineapples in the bun itself. It gets it name from the appearance of the topping which is made to look like the exterior of a pineapple. Leave it to the Chinese and their imagination!
It was later that I discovered that T&T Supermarket sold pineapple buns with a custard filling in them. After having tasted the custard-filled version, it was just not the same having a regular pineapple bun. Any time my mother-in-law brings home bakery treats, I always have to see if they’re the custard-filled pineapple buns! But the regular ones are good; just not as decadent. 😉
(Above): Filled with vanilla custard
For this recipe, I changed it up and added a matcha custard inside of bun. Imagine a soft, pillowy bun topped with a crunchy, lightly sweet matcha crust, and filled with a luscious smooth matcha custard. This heavenly bun is perfect for breakfast or a mid-day snack. Pair it Matcha Espresso Fusion for the ultimate coffee break.
What is your favourite Chinese bakery item? Let me know below in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links.
Matcha Pineapple Bun “Bo Lo Bao” 菠蘿包
Yield: 8 large buns
For the bun dough:
300g bread flour
45g granulated sugar
5g active dry yeast
15g beaten egg, from 1 egg
180g whole milk
10g unsalted butter
For the topping:
75g unsalted butter
30g beaten egg (the remainder of the egg will be left over for brushing the tops of the buns)
100g cake flour
60g icing sugar
2 tsp sugar
10g organic milk powder
1/4 tsp ammonium carbonate
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp high-quality matcha
Make the dough:
In a heat-safe jar, add the sugar and half the milk. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds until very warm to the touch. Add in the yeast to the milk and stir. Set aside to let the yeast activate.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, salt, egg, and remaining milk. Add in the yeast and milk mixture. Knead all the ingredients until the dough is smooth and elastic. Gradually add the butter in. Continue kneading the dough until it is not sticky.
Place the dough aside to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Prepare the topping:
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the softened butter until smooth and fluffy.
Add the beaten egg in three batches. After each addition, mix well with the creamed butter.
Sift cake flour, icing sugar, sugar, milk powder, ammonium carbonate, baking powder and matcha over the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the table and transfer the butter mixture onto the plastic. Shape it into a log and place into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so that it can firm up. If the consistency seems a little runny, add 1 tsp of flour at a time, mix again, and try forming a log.
Assemble the pineapple bun:
Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape the buns. Knead well to expel any air. Let the dough rest for another 20 minutes until doubled in size.
In the mean time, remove the chilled butter mixture (for the topping) from the refrigerator and cut it into 8 equal portions. Flatten each round so that it is about 1/4″ thick and that it will cover the top of the bun.
Gently take a dough ball and lay the butter topping over top. It should cover the top surface of the bun. Carefully smooth out the edges by pressing them to the bun on the side.
Let buns rest until doubled in size.
Using the back of a knife, score the butter topping and brush some egg wash over top (from the leftover egg).
Bake for at 400F for 5 minutes, then reduce to 350F for another 15 minutes.
If adding matcha custard (recipe below) filling, use a large skewer to poke a hole in the bottom of the buns and generously fill with custard using a piping bag fitted with a tip.
Buns are enjoyed best while warm out of the oven.
Bun recipe adapted from China Sichuan Food.
3/4 C milk
1/4 C milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 C sugar (minus 1 T)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 T flour
1/2 T corn starch
1 tsp high-quality matcha (affiliate)
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring 3/4 C milk to a simmer.
In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 C milk, sugar, and salt until frothy and then add in the flour and corn starch.
Temper the egg yolk mixture with warmed milk by slowly adding some of the hot milk from the saucepan into the egg and whisking constantly.
Add the warmed egg mixture back into the sauce pan and consistently whisk over low heat until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
Test for doneness by drawing a line on the back of a wooden spoon with your finger — if a clear path is left behind, then it is ready. Remove from heat.
Let cool. Refrigerate custard until ready to use.