Even though the name of the recipe suggests the opposite, this authentic Chinese pineapple bun recipe doesn’t actually contain any pineapple. Instead, the topping of these buns (also known as bola bao) closely resembles a pineapple, which is how it got its name. These sweet buns come out a beautiful golden brown on the outside while being delicate and soft in the center.

Pineapple Bun

How to Make Authentic Chinese Pineapple Buns

Follow these simple recipe instructions to make your own irresistibly sweet Chinese pineapple buns:

  • Begin making the tangzhong. Add the all-purpose flour and water to a small saucepan and whisk together.
  • Cook the tangzhong. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the mixture begins to form a paste.
  • Cool. Remove the tangzhong from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Prepare the yeast mixture for the dough. Use the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the whole milk, active dry yeast and granulated sugar.
  • Stand. Allow the yeast mixture to stand for 5 minutes.
  • Prepare the flour mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the bread flour and salt.
  • Prepare the butter mixture. Add the melted butter, sweetened condensed milk, and one large egg to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture. With the mixer still running, slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  • Beat. Beat on low speed for 8 minutes.
  • Prepare the bowl. Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking oil.
  • Transfer the dough. Transfer the dough into the greased bowl.
  • Rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour (or until it has doubled in size).
  • Prepare the baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prepare the dough for baking. Punch the dough and then transfer onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces and then roll each piece into a ball.
  • Rise. Allow the dough balls to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven. Preheat your oven to 350℉.
  • Begin to make the topping. Add the all-purpose flour, baking powder and turmeric to a bowl and mix to combine.
  • Cream the butter and sugar. Use a separate bowl to cream the butter and sugar.
  • Prepare the egg yolk mixture. Add the egg yolk, whole milk, and pure vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture. Add the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix to combine.
  • Form into rounds. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and then roll each piece into a 3 ½ inch round. Use the back of a knife to score a crosshatch pattern onto each round.
  • Top. Top the buns with the rounds.
  • Prepare the egg wash. Add the lightly beaten egg and milk to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Brush. Brush each of the buns with the egg wash.
  • Bake. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes.
  • Serve. Serve the bola bao warm.
Pineapple Bun
Pineapple Bun
Pineapple Bun
Pineapple Bun
Pineapple Bun
Pineapple Bun

3 Useful Tips for Making Authentic Homemade Chinese Pineapple Buns (focusing on the process and methods)

Here are 3 useful tips to keep in mind to help you make incredibly yummy bola bao:

  • Be patient with the yeast. It’s essential that you give the yeast enough time to properly rise. This will help to make sure that your pineapple buns are turning out perfectly.
  • Nail the tangzhong. Tangzhong is simply a Chinese method of heating flour and water until it forms a paste to add to bread dough. It’s basically the secret ingredient to making sure that your pineapple buns end up with a delightfully light texture.
  • Stick with a stand mixer. This recipe uses a fair amount of liquid when preparing the dough so it’s highly recommended to stick with using a stand mixer. Use a low speed for 8 to 10 minutes for best results.
Pineapple Bun

Can I Freeze Chinese Pineapple Buns?

You can certainly freeze these Chinese pineapple buns if you want, but it’s really not recommended as their texture won’t hold up when reheating.

Instead, you can keep your buns at room temperature for up to 3 to 4 days as long as they’re sealed up tightly inside of an airtight container. Alternatively, you can also keep the buns stored in the fridge like this for up to 5 days.

Pineapple Bun

(Also try: Thai Pineapple Fried Rice, Sticky Pineapple Chicken)

Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)

A sweet chinese pineapple bun (bolo bao) with the most addictive crunchy sugar top.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 54 minutes
Servings: 12 buns

Ingredients 

For the tangzhong: 

  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup water

For the dough:

  • 10 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted

For the topping: 

  • ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric

For the egg wash: 

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions 

  • To make the tangzhong, in a small saucepan whisk the flour and water.
  • Heat it over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  • Cook until the mixture forms a thick paste.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine the whole milk, yeast and sugar.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • In another bowl combine the flour and salt.
  • Add the melted butter, sweetened condensed milk and egg to the bowl of stand mixer and mix to combine.
  • While the mixer is running, add the flour mixture slowly.
  • Beat on low speed for 8 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl with oil.
  • Transfer the dough into the bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Punch the dough.
  • Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball.
  • Let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • To make the topping, in a bowl combine flour, baking powder and turmeric.
  • In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
  • Add the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix to combine.
  • Divide the dough into 12 pieces.
  • Roll out out each piece into a 3 1/2-round.
  • Use the back of a knife to score a crosshatch pattern onto the round.
  • Top the buns with rounds.
  • In a small bowl whisk the egg and milk.
  • Brush the buns with egg wash.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 14-16 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 353kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 8gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 289mgPotassium: 121mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 317IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe?Leave a comment and review below!

Emma Kelly

Lover of smoosh faced dogs, cooking (of all kinds), spending as much time as I can in the garden (especially with homegrown veg and cut flowers), and diy’ing everything! Make sure to follow me on Pinterest for more easy meals, (mostly) healthy desserts and crave-worthy snacks. Learn more about me here.

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