Pinapple Bun Bo Luo Bao

Please welcome Jenn, of Kirbie’s Cravings, a delicious San Diego food blog who introduces to us a method of making wonderful Asian style pastries just like the professional bakeries.  85 degree bakery fans, are you tired of waiting in the ridiculous lines? Now you can make similar pastries at home! We’re so grateful Jenn’s sharing this Pinapple Bun recipe with us and our readers. Please visit Kirbie’s Cravings for more delicious Asian pastry recipes!

I am so excited that Kim and Hong gave me this opportunity to guest post on their blog. I’ve been following their blog for as long as I have been blogging, and I’ve always admired their beautiful photos, eloquent writing and strong relationship.

One of my many food obsessions is with Chinese-style breads. If you’ve ever visited a Chinese bakery, you will see a huge selection of sweet and savory breads. All the bread variations start with a bread base that is incredibly soft, fluffy and light. I’ve been trying to master the different Chinese breads, but there has been one in particular that I was afraid to tackle until now: the pineapple bun.

The pineapple bun (pronounced buo lo bao in Chinese) is the the most common type of bread found at a Chinese bakery and the most popular. It is also the most finicky to make. The bread actually has no pineapple in it. Instead the English name comes from the appearance, which resembles that of a pineapple shell.

What makes the bread so appealing is the sugar butter topping, similar to a streusel used on Western desserts. Many recipes call for the use of ammonia and some ingredients which are not available in the US. Because ammonia is hard to work with, I opted to look for a recipe that did not require it, hoping to still achieve good results.

I chose to adapt a recipe from the book 65 Degrees Celsius Tangzhong Bread by Yvonne Chen which became very popular when the author introduced a method of making bread using a water roux starter called tangzhong, which helps maintain the freshness and softness of bread. The water roux starter is easy to make, but does take the extra step of having to prepare it several hours beforehand. A lot of breads in Asia use chemicals to keep them soft. The water roux method is much healthier, since it is just a combination of water and bread flour.

Pinnapple Bun Bo Luo Bao


For the tangzhong
50 g bread flour
250 ml water

For the Dough:
210 g Bread flour
56 g Cake flour
20 g Milk powder
42 g Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
6 g Instant Yeast
30 g Egg (a little less than 1 whole egg, depending on your egg size)
85 g Water
84 g Tangzhong
22 g Unsalted butter

For the Topping:
55 g Unsalted butter
55 g Icing sugar
25 g Egg (about 1/2 of a large egg)
2 tbsp Milk powder
130 g Bread flour
Egg yolk for brushing (I used the remaining amount leftover from recipe)


1. Tangzhong must be made ahead of time and allowed to cool for several hours in the fridge. To make tangzhong, mix the flour and water in a small sauce pan until flour is completely dissolved. Place sauce pan on stove on medium heat. Stir continuously and also measure temperature with a thermometer. As it approached 65C, the mixture will thicken and lines will begin to form when you stir. Once it hits 65C, turn off stove, remove pan from heat and place in a container and cool in the refrigerator for several hours. The recipe makes more tangzhong than needed for this recipe. However, this is the easiest ratio of water to flour needed for tangzhong. You can use the rest to make another more bread, or store it in the fridge for a few days.

2. For the dough: Using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine all ingredients listed under the dough section except the butter. Mix until dough begins to form, then add in butter a little at a time until it is fully incorporated. Continue to let the dough mix on medium speed until dough is no longer sticky and becomes elastic, about 10 minutes.

3. Grease a bowl with some oil. Place dough in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 1 hr until doubled in size.

4. For the topping: While dough is proofing, make the topping. Whip the butter until soft and sift in the icing sugar and mix well. Add in the egg and stir until combined. Fold in the milk powder and half of bread flour. Mix with a plastic spatula. Gradually add in the rest of bread flour. The topping will be very sticky. I suggest rolling it out between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and sticking it in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

5. Take chunks of dough and divide into 8 balls. Make sure your dough balls are smooth and that the bottom ends are securely tucked under so that they do not open up during the second round of proofing. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.

6. Divide the topping into 8 portions. Place one portion on each bread. Mold it to fit the top of the bread with the palm of your hand, pressing down gently to spread the topping. The end result should be a thin layer covering most of the surface of the bread. Use a sharp knife to make criss crosses, like a checkerboard across the top of the topping (careful not to cut into the dough). Let dough rest for an additional 40 minutes.

7. Brush on egg yolk on tops of each bread and bake in a preheated 180C/350F oven for about 15 minutes.

Please visit Kirbie's Cravings for more delicious Asian pastry recipes!

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