Pineapple Buns (菠蘿麵包 )

One of my fondest memories of living in Taiwan when I was a little girl was going to the local bakery with my mom to buy a bunch of delicious breads and pastries. Out of all the complex and unique items to choose from, I always had to get a pineapple bun (among other items). The pineapple bun is a fairly simple bread, but it is still one of my favorite bakery items to this day.

The pineapple bun (pronounced “buo luo mien bao” in Mandarin) derives its name from the appearance of its checkered top, which looks similar to the epicarp of a pineapple. There is, in fact, no form of pineapple contained in this sweet bread. There are two parts to the pineapple bun–the bread dough and the sweet topping.

Ingredients for Bread Dough:
155 g (11/3 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
3 g (1 tsp) active dry yeast
25 g (2 Tbs) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
75 mL (1/3 cup) milk
15 g (1 Tbs) beaten egg (use the remaining egg for egg wash)
15 g (1 Tbs) unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces

Mix the dough ingredients: Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, beat on low for 3 minutes, until all ingredients are combined. Continue to mix on low speed while adding the butter, one piece at a time, until all the butter is thoroughly mixed into the dough.

Knead the dough: Beat the dough for another 10 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be sticky and shiny.

Proof the dough: Place the dough in a bowl dusted with flour, and cover with a plastic wrap. Leave the dough in a warm spot for about 60 minutes, until it doubles in size.

Ingredients for Sweet Topping:
25 g (13/4 Tbs) unsalted butter, at room temperature
35 g (3 Tbs) sugar
2 tsp milk
1 large egg yolk
80 g (3/4 cup + 1 Tbs) cake flour
1 tsp baking powder

Mix the topping ingredients: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the milk and egg yolk, then whisk until the mixture is creamy and slightly pale. Sift the cake flour and baking powder, add them to the mixture, and mix until everything just comes together.

Firm up the topping mixture: Roll the mixture into a log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap, then leave it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Divide the bread dough: Punch out the air in the bread dough. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, then form each piece into a ball. Cover the balls of dough with plastic wrap, and leave them in a warm spot for 60 minutes to proof, until they double in size.

Divide the topping mixture: Cut the log into 10 equal pieces, then form each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball into a 3″ disc, then individually wrap the discs in plastic wrap. Leave the wrapped discs in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, until they firm up and are easier to handle.

Assemble the bun: Brush the top of each bread dough with egg wash. Lightly score each topping with a criss-cross pattern. Place each disc on top of a ball of bread dough. Brush each topping with egg wash. Let the buns sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Bake the buns: Bake the buns at 375°F for 10-12 minutes.

Makes: 10 mini buns

These pineapple buns turned out delicious! They are great for breakfast or an afternoon snack (as well as a late night snack, if you’re like me). The soft, sweet, and buttery topping was what really defined the pineapple bun.

Although these buns are perfectly enjoyable the way they are, I plan on also making ones with a crusty, golden brown topping (to create more of a contrast in texture with the soft bread). Do you prefer the top of a pineapple bun to be soft or crisp? Comment below and let me know!

42 thoughts on “Pineapple Buns (菠蘿麵包 )

  1. wow–fun! I’ve seen and had in restaurants, but never thought of it as something I could make. But it looks like I can 🙂 Yours look great and what a lot of work to take all those photos. Thanks for going the extra mile 🙂

    I did not know they were called pineapple buns and when I saw your post title I assumed they had pineapple filling. Surprise! The topping is a nice touch. Can’t wait to make.

    1. Thanks Liz! I didn’t think I could make pineapple buns for the longest time, but I decided to just give it a go! And thanks for acknowledging all the photos 😀 These buns took me longer to make than I expected, but then I realized–I kept stopping to take photos haha!

      The topping is my favorite part! It took me quite a few tries before I figured out the best way to make the criss-cross pattern and lay them nicely on top of the bread dough (the trials and errors of baking)–an important step is to keep them in the freezer so they hold their shape! Let me know how yours turn out 🙂

      1. am so glad you came over to deLizious–thank you! I’m first in line if you start a fb page for your blog or any other business 🙂

  2. Pineapple (or fake)! I didn’t know the English term was pineapple bun! Looks yummy too. I think I’ve had this before. I prefer soft because when I’ve had crispy ones, they flake off and …well, let’s say.. the ground gets free food.

    By the way, is this recipe pull-off-able with all purpose flour?

    1. I didn’t know it was called pineapple bun until a couple years ago! But it makes sense, since 菠蘿 apparently means pineapple haha. It’s true how a crispy topping could easily flake off. Good thing the store bought ones are each in their own bag–helps catch everything so I can still eat the loose topping pieces hehe.

      Yeah, you can definitely use all-purpose flour! The bread dough might come out a little bit more dense, but it’s still doable. As for the cake flour, I actually made mine with all-purpose flour and cornstarch (from one cup of all-purpose flour, take out 2 Tbs and replace it with 2 Tbs of cornstarch, then sift mixture multiple times).

  3. Looks so yummy! I never learnt of this pineapple bun before, but it looks a bit like Japanese melon pan. I personally prefer a crispy topping, the crunchy top with a very soft bun inside is definitely a hit!

    1. Thank you! I have yet to taste a Japanese melon pan, but from what I’ve heard, it’s similar to the Chinese pineapple bun! Thanks for your response–I definitely like the combination of a soft bun with a crispy top. I appreciate you stopping by! 😀

  4. how we adore pineapple buns,they are called so because of the resemblance of textures…sweet crusted outer enveloping a soft center…your buns have turned out so beautifully…delicious 🙂

  5. They certainly look so delicious. It’s high time I kneaded some yeast mixture! I have bookmarked this one as well. Thank you so much for sharing and wish you a wonderful weekend ahead!

  6. Hi Ada, I can’t wait to try this recipe!! I lived in Hong Kong when I was younger so I’m really fond of pineapple buns as well 😀

  7. Ada – to answer the question: soft, not crisp – always soft. Your buns look very fluffy; I am so impressed. Did you learn this recipe from you mom? I loved that shared your food memory behind the recipe. When I lived in Spain, there was a pastry called “Suizo” that looked exactly like these buns and have similar ingredients… have you tried them? I LOVE suizo. It’s interesting that they are called pineapple buns but are pineapple-free! Nice post!

    1. Thank you, Shanna! Soft, fluffy buns are so enjoyable to eat 🙂
      I actually did not learn this recipe from my mom, but I plan on making these buns when she and my relatives are flying out here in December! I think they will be the best judges as to how authentic these pineapple buns taste 😀
      It’s interesting how this type of bun is popular among different cultures, but with slight variations and different names! I’ve never had suizo, but now I need to try them!
      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely comments 😀

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