Hong Kong Style Pineapple Bun Recipe 港式菠蘿包

{Recipe} Homemade Hong Kong Pineapple Buns 港式菠蘿包

Pineapple Bun 菠蘿包, known as bor lor bao in Cantonese, or bo luo bao in Mandarin, is a very popular Cantonese/Hong Kong style pastry served as a dim sum snack, breakfast bun, or dessert pastry and it’s sold in Chinese bakeries all around the world.

If you’ve never had a pineapple bun before, the first thing you’d notice is that signature golden, crumbly crust which resembles the pattern of pineapple skin. Underneath that crunchy and sweet crust is a fluffy and soft bun that sometimes comes with a custard or red bean stuffing.

{Recipe} Homemade Hong Kong Pineapple Buns 港式菠蘿包

You might be tempted to draw connection between this and a Mexican bread called concha but I can assure you that they taste very different as the pineapple crust is less sweet and lighter in texture and the bun is softer and less dense than that of concha.

Oh yes, there is no actual pineapple in the bun!

{Recipe} Homemade Hong Kong Pineapple Buns 港式菠蘿包

I first got addicted to pineapple buns while on a trip to Hong Kong, where my wife, a Hong Kong native and self-proclaimed pineapple bun expert who grew up waking up the smell of pineapple buns from nearby bakery, took me to a local shot to show me how a freshly baked pineapple bun tasted like.

As I sank my teeth into that golden-crispy-shelled bun, my eyes just immediately lit up and I had to take a few more bites to confirm that I was eating a Chinese pastry. The crust was crispy yet light and the bun was fluffy with the right consistency and sweetness. I was sold on the spot!

{Recipe} Homemade Hong Kong Pineapple Buns 港式菠蘿包

As for my wife, she enjoyed her pineapple bun served as a bor lor yau, which had a thick slab of butter sandwiched in the middle of a freshly made pineapple bun. A bite into it, I felt an explosion of semi-melted butter mixed with soft bread and crunchy shell. It was definitely something to die for!

To recreate that epic experience in Hong Kong, I started testing my own pineapple bun recipe. After going through a handful of recipes from all over the place, I finally came up this version which passed my wife’s taste test! I even got a thumb-up from her serving up freshly baked pineapple bun bright and early 🙂

Her blessing also means I can official share this tasty homemade pineapple bun recipe with step-by-step instructions with aspirational readers like you!

{Recipe} Homemade Hong Kong Pineapple Buns 港式菠蘿包

Giveaway Contest Reminder

Before I let you jump into this rather long recipe, I’d like to remind you that you have until this Monday night to enter to win this 5.5-Qt Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven that I am giving away. If you like to cook and bake, you’d not want to miss the opportunity to grab this handy Dutchen oven!

Hong Kong Pineapple Bun Recipe 港式菠蘿包

Yield: 8-10 Buns

Prep Time:180

Cook Time:20

Total Time:200

Make this amazing Hong Kong Pineapple Bun Recipe following this step-by-step recipe at yireservation.com.

Ingredients:

Milk Bread Dough

  • 310g / 2.4c bread flour
  • 95g / .35c chilled water roux (TangZhong) from below recipe
  • 1 large egg, about 60g
  • 5g/ 1.75tsp active yeast + 30ml / 1.7 tbsp. warm milk or water
  • 70ml/0.3c milk/heavy cream
  • 50g / 0.4c sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 30g / 2tbsp butter, softened in room temperature
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Water Roux (TangZhong) for bread dough

  • 20g / 2.8tbsp flour
  • 80ml/0.33c milk

Pineapple Crust

  • 110g Cake flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50g butter, soften in room temperature
  • 45g sugar
  • 2g salt
  • 10g baker’s dry milk (optional)
  • 10g milk
  • 1/4tsp Baking powder
  • 1/3tsp ammonium bicarbonate*

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg yolk and ½ egg white, beaten

Directions:

  1. To make the bread dough and water roux, please follow my Soft Asian Milk Bread recipe. The water roux can be made ahead of the time and left in the fridge. The dough takes roughly 1-1.5 hours to prepare and finish the first rise (up to step 7).Pineapple Bun Step1
  2. Once the dough is ready, divide the dough into 10 portions for regular size buns or 8 portions for extra-large buns.Pineapple Bun Step2
  3. Use your palm and roll each portion of the dough into a ball. Place the dough balls on lined baking sheet. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes.Pineapple Bun Step3
  4. In the meantime, divide the chilled pineapple crust dough (see instructions below) into 8 or 10 pieces.Pineapple Bun Step4
  5. Roll each piece of crust dough into a ball.Pineapple Bun Step5
  6. Place a crust dough ball in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough with your palm and then roll out into a 4”-5” wrapper.Pineapple Bun Step6
  7. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and place the crust dough wrapper right on top of a bread dough ball to cover most of the bread dough. Repeat until every bread dough is covered.Pineapple Bun Step7
  8. (optional step) To create a more distinctive checkerboard pineapple pattern, lightly run a knife over the pineapple crust without cutting through.Pineapple Bun Step8
  9. Pre-heat the over to 380F/193C. Let the dough sit for another 30-45minutes or double in size. Brush the crust and any exposing bread dough with egg wash.Pineapple Bun Step9
  10. Bake at 380F for 8 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350F/176C and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack and serve while the crust is still crunchy!Pineapple Bun Step10

Pineapple Crust Dough Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix the egg yolk, sugar, and butter with a hand mixer or whisk until fluffy and smooth.Pineapple Bun Step1a
  2. Slowly add milk while mixing with a hand mixer/whisk.Pineapple Bun Step2a
  3. Continue to mix until milk is fully incorporated and the mixture is fluffy.Pineapple Bun Step3a
  4. Combine the cake flour, dry milk, baking powder, and ammonia bicarbonate in a separate bowl. Sift all the dry ingredients and transfer to wet mixture.Pineapple Bun Step4a
  5. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet mixture until fully incorporated. The final mixture is of cookie dough consistency.Pineapple Bun Step5a
  6. Transfer the pineapple crust dough onto a plastic wrap. Wrap the dough and shape it into a log. Chill in a fridge for at least 1 hour and only take out when ready to use. You can make this pineapple dough 1 day in advance.Pineapple Bun Step6a
*Ammonium bicarbonate (臭粉) is a leavening agent used commercial food preparation. You can sometimes find it in baking isle at large Chinese supermarkets. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with the same amount of baking powder.

{Recipe} Homemade Hong Kong Pineapple Buns 港式菠蘿包

40 comments

  1. 19

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. So easy to make and so rewarding. I added more water to the dough to make it moist. That might have helped it become really soft. Keep baking! 🙂

  2. 18

    Hey Yi,

    Thanks for the recipe – have just attempted to make the buns this evening. They turned out well aesthetically, but taste wise they were short of what I’ve been used to from Chinese bakeries. Any tips for making the buns softer? Not fully sure if the softness of the buns from bakeries is due to some form of additive, making the buns super soft.

    Thanks!

    • 18.1

      Hi Katherine,

      Thanks for checking out the pineapple bun recipe. Regarding the bun, it’s possible to make it soft and fluffy without additives (most bakeries do use them) but it takes some practice and patience. I have posted a detailed recipe and video on how to make the Asian soft milk bread. Please follow that recipe up until the shaping step then switch to this recipe to shape the dough into balls. Hope this helps.

      Yi

  3. 17

    I have difficulties to measure the ingredients amount by ‘g’. Is it possible to have an alternative recipe by using the measurement by cup, tsb, tbs, etc?

    • 17.1

      hey, I understand that converting from the US measurement system is difficult. I have just updated the ingredient list to include the US measurement to the best of my ability. Please note that I don’t normally use the US system so the numbers are approximate. Hope this helps.

  4. 16

    These Bolo Bao were incredible! Love that soft base paired with the crunchy cookie crust. They are a new favorite with my family. 

  5. 15

    While in San Francisco, I introduced my husband and daughter to pineapple buns. They were immediately hooked—my daughter ate bor lor yau every day of our visit.

    When we got home, I made your recipe for pineapple buns. My daughter’s reaction: Thumb up and “You nailed it, Mom!”

    • 15.1

      Hi Janet, thanks for your feedback. I am really happy to hear that the recipe got the stamp of approval of your daughter. She certainly has a good taste :). The truth is the freshly baked pineapple buns are just insanely good. Thanks again for trying out this recipe!

  6. 14

    Hi, I made this recipe & also the one for hokkaido milk loaf on a previous occasion, and both times the bread turned out AMAZING! My go-to recipe when I want to eat soft bread (sometimes I crave baguette/french bread instead of asian-style bread) The only thing is the topping for the bo lo bun was not sweet enough for my taste, haha, but that’s just personal preference. Also my topping didn’t turn out as bright yellow as yours – maybe because I used baking powder? Thanks for the great recipe.

    • 14.1

      Hi Myrth, thanks for checking out my recipes. Glad that you found the bread recipes helpful. For the pineapple crust, you can add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter. Thanks again!

  7. 13

    Thanks for sharing. We live in Qingxi Dongguan and I’m married to a Mainland Chinese girl. We’re having a baby this week and I decided to do something special for the love of my life.
    My wife loves pineapple buns and I love baking so I gave it a shot today and they turned out quite nice. The bread dough was a little sticky but overall they worked out great!

  8. 12

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, but I follow it and it get very watery dough, its not possible to work with, I think 180ml of total liquid for 310 g of flour is a bit too much. had anyone have any success without changing anything?  Cheers

    • 12.1

      Hi Kevin, thanks for checking out my recipe and sorry for the confusion. Yes there was a typo on the recipe. The 80ml of milk is double counted as it was supposed be part of the roux ingredient. I have made the correction and it should work now. I apologize for the inconvenience. I hope you get to try this again.

  9. 11

    If I use instant yeast and skip the proofing step, do I need to add 30 ml of water to the recipe?

    • 11.1

      Hello Janet, you will still need it as the total liquid level doesn’t change. Thanks.

      • Hi Janet, I apologize but you were absolutely right that I double counted the milk in the recipe. The 80ml was listed in both main dough and the roux but in fact only the roux needed 80ml of milk. I have corrected and I am sorry for all the confusion. Thanks again for visiting my blog.

  10. 10

    Milk is listed twice in the ingredients for the dough. Which one is correct?

    • 10.1

      Hi Janet, the 70ml is heavy cream but if you don’t have that in hand you can also use milk instead.

    • 10.2

      I am referring to two different items in the list of ingredients.
      Line 3:  80 ml milk
      Line 6:  70 ml milk/heavy cream

      That’s too much liquid for the amount of flour, so I just used 80 ml milk.

      The buns came out wonderfully, and are still soft and fluffy a day later!

  11. 9

    isn’t ammonia bicarbonate the same thing as baking soda? not baking powder? or did you mean ammonia carbonate

  12. 8

    Hi Yi, you really have passionate and talent in cooking. I remembered there was a bakery in HK,the pineapple bun was huge and with the marmalade inside. I hope someday I’ll find time to follow your recipe here and with my favorite marmalade.

    Thanks again for sharing the recipes that i’ve been long for!

  13. 7

    These rolls look irresistible! What a great recipe and you obviously are fabulous baker because these are perfect!

  14. 6

    The recipe looks great but when it comes to baking, I am out of my depth. Like the new website, especially the archive. I can catch up with recipes that were posted before I subscribed.
    You might consider writing about coping with a small kitchen.
    Any tips would be appreciated. For example, I cook in the kitchen and prepare (chop, slice, etc) in my living room. Still procrastinating about the red yeast paste, hubby is a hard sell. Glad the cat is well.

  15. 5

    Oh gosh, they look sooo good!! My childhood favourite and definitely worth every calorie.

  16. 4

    These do indeed remind me of a pineapple! Really cool recipe — thanks so much.

  17. 3

    Haven’t had one pineapple bun since ages! Yours look perfectly perfect, Yi.

  18. 2

    I am terrible at baking.  I cannot follow precise directions.  I will beg my wife to make it.  🙂 

  19. 1

    I cannot tell you how excited I am about this recipe. Bo lor bao is my favorite thing to eat at dim sum. I always get it,even if I’m the only one eating it. One question: do you have any good custard recipes for the filling? I love my bo lor bao with the custard in it.

    • 1.1

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for visiting. I do have a golden custard recipe. Will share it sometime. Perhaps I’ll post a steamed custard bun recipe sometime.

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