Pineapple Buns

No pineapples were harmed to make these pillowy Pineapple Buns (bolo bao), which got their name due to their physical resemblance to the tropical fruit. Sweet, golden, and highly addictive, these tender buns have a Milk Roux base and crispy cookie-like cover. Be sure to make the Milk Roux and the topping before starting on the buns.

Pineapple Buns
Makes 10 buns
  • ⅔ cup (160 grams) warm whole milk (100°F/38°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 5½ tablespoons (66 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • Milk Roux (recipe follows), room temperature
  • 3 cups (381 grams) bread flour
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10 minutes
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), divided
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • Pineapple Buns Topping (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together warm milk, 1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar, and yeast. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add Milk Roux, flour, melted butter, 1 egg (50 grams), salt, vanilla, and remaining 4½ tablespoons (54 grams) sugar to yeast mixture; beat at low speed just until combined, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Switch to the dough hook attachment; beat at low speed for 3 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium-low, and beat until a soft, smooth dough forms, 6 to 8 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. (Dough should pass the windowpane test; see Note.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Punch down dough; let stand for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 10 equal portions (about 77 grams each). Roll each portion into a ball, and place on prepared pans.
  5. Divide Pineapple Buns Topping into 10 portions (about 27 grams each); roll into balls. Place 1 ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; roll or pat into a 4-inch circle. Gently wrap circle over top of 1 bun, covering as much dough as possible. Repeat with remaining Pineapple Buns Topping and buns. Using a sharp knife, gently cut a crosshatch pattern into top of each bun through topping. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together room temperature milk and remaining 1 egg (50 grams). Thoroughly brush top of buns with egg wash, being sure to get between rows of topping.
  8. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers at least 190°F (88°C), about 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 10 minutes before serving.
Test the dough for proper gluten development using the windowpane test. Pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute more, and test again.



Milk Roux
Makes about ⅓ cup
  • ⅓ cup (80 grams) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) bread flour
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together milk and flour. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, an instant-read thermometer registers 149°F (65°C), and whisk leaves lines on bottom of pan. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature before using.

Pineapple Buns Topping
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk (19 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125 grams) unbleached cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons (10 grams) nonfat dry milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla until well combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, milk powder, and baking powder. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and shape into a 10×1½-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


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