Bolo Bao aka Pineapple Buns

Overly excited to be sharing this bread with you all today. It’s a sweet little bun that has been a part of my life since I can remember. They are found in every chinese bakery and are the ones my parents get for me every single time they go. It has to be one of my absolute favorites as a kid along side the sponge “cake”, hot dog bun, pork floss bun…. oh man ya’ll know I love my bread so did I really just choose a favorite??? YES! My love for them grew even stronger when my parents started taking me to Hong Kong every 5 years or so. For some reason the bread was fluffier and softer and the topping was more flavorful and crisp. PLUS, they literally serve it with a huge slab of salted butter! Ughhh I’m drooling thinking about it served with a ying yeurng which is a 50/50 coffee & tea drink specific to HK. Due to COVID and not wanting to go out to buy these I decided to try and make them at home again. I’ve made them a couple of times before but ended up giving up on looking for that same texture and flavor. I guess I’ve finally got it down so buckle your seat belts while I explain the process… if you want to know about it!

This bread uses the tang zhong method which isn’t new to me, but a method that I have yet to use more often. It requires you to cook a percentage of the flour with a bit of the water or milk you are using in your recipe to create a thick slurry which you then add back into the dough. Doing so helps the flour retain more water without creating a super wet dough which means you will be able to work with it and shape it a whole lot easier but still get super tender bread. The water will also release into the bread as it is baking creating more steam thus making it more fluffy and giving it even more height. This method gives you bread that will stay the way you want it to, how it came out of the oven, for days to come. I will definitely be updating a couple recipes on here to use this method as it will take it up a few notches.

As for the topping, there are so many different ways to make it but each change produces a different texture and look. I’ve used granulated sugar, baker’s sugar, all purpose flour, cake flour, dry milk powder and decided that bread flour and powdered sugar gave me the results I longed for. It’s crispy and crunchy and with a little toast the next day, it’s just as yummy. I can’t wait for you to try it and I’m looking forward to sharing more baked good from my culture with you. Don’t forget to tag me @thebutterywhisk or leave me a comment here if you make them, I love seeing your creations!

BOLO BAO AKA PINEAPPLE BUNS RECIPE 

makes 14 large or 28 small

INGREDIENTS

for the roux 

  • 50g or 1/3 cup bread flour
  • 250g or 1/3 cup water

for the dough 

  • 600g or 5 cups bread flour
  • 7g or 1 heaping tsp. kosher salt
  • 11g or 3 tsp. instant dry yeast
  • 80g or 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 60g or 1/4 cup whole milk (room temp.)
  • 90g or 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (room temp.)
  • 2 large eggs (whisked)
  • 184g roux
  • 50g or 3 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter (room temp.)

for the topping 

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 145g or 2/3 cup salted butter (melted & cooled)
  • 100g or 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 220g or 2 cups bread flour

for brushing 

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. milk

DIRECTIONS

for the roux

  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and water till smooth.
  • Place the pot over medium heat and cook whisking continuously till the mixture begins to thicken (3-5mins). The mixture should look like a thick slurry, so do not overcook it. It will thicken up a bit more as it cools.
  • Set aside to cool while you prep the ingredients for the dough.

for the dough 

  • In a stand mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, yeast and sugar & whisk to combine.
  • Attach the bowl to the mixer & add the milk, heavy cream, eggs & roux.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low till it comes together and there are no more flour spots.
  • Add the softened butter and continue to knead on low till the butter is incorporated and the dough is soft & smooth. The dough is a bit on the wetter side, but it should not stick to the sides of the bowl. If it is sticking, add in 2 tbsp. of flour at a time till it does not stick.
  • Cover the bowl & set it in a warm draft free place till it doubles in size (~1hr). I leave mine in the oven with the light turned on.
  • At this point, make the topping.
  • Once the dough has doubled, turn it over onto a lightly floured surface & divide it into 14 or 28 pieces. I use a scale to make sure each piece is exact, but if you do not own one, eyeballing it is okay too.
  • Roll each piece into a ball by pinching the sides into the middle and loosely cupping your hand over it and rolling it on the table to create some tension.
  • Place each bun spaced 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover lightly with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temp. for 30 mins.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F & whisk the milk and egg yolk together in a bowl, set aside.
  • In the last 10 mins of the second rise, take the topping out from the fridge and divide it out into 14 or 28 pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it between two pieces of plastic wrap by using the palm of your hand till it is 1/4 inch thick.
  • Carefully place each topping on the buns, brush the tops with the egg yolk mixture & bake for 15-18 mins depending on the size of your buns. The tops should be golden brown and should have a crackled look.

for the topping 

  • In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients together.
  • Using a spatula, fold it till it comes together. It should look like a cookie dough with no flour pockets anywhere.
  • Let it chill in the fridge for at least 20 mins to make it easier to work with.

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