Pineapple Buns - Bo Lo Bao
Recipe courtesy of Andy Liang for Food Network Kitchen

Pineapple Buns (Bo Lo Bao)

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 45 min (includes rising and chilling times)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 8 pineapple buns
Pineapple buns (or bo lo bao in Cantonese) are a Chinese bakery classic. They can vary in terms of the sweetness of the cookie topping as well as by the shape, size and softness of the bun. This version has a soft and fluffy bun inspired by Chinese milk bread, crowned with a sweet cookie dough that melds onto the top during baking. Despite the name, no pineapple is actually used in the recipe. It refers to the crosshatch pattern in the topping that evokes the exterior of the fruit.


Bread Dough:

Cookie Dough Topping:

Egg Wash:


  1. Start the bread dough: Whisk the 2 tablespoons (18 g) bread flour with 1/2 cup cold water in a medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until thickened and opaque, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer bowl and let cool slightly. Add the milk and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and whisk by hand until smooth and the mixture reaches 100 to 110 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the yeast just until combined. Let sit until foamy on the surface, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grease a large bowl with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  3. Top the yeast mixture with the following ingredients in this order: the egg, milk powder, remaining 2 cups (240 g) bread flour, the cake flour, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the salt. Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until all the flour is moistened, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and passes the window pane test, about 10 minutes (see Cook’s Note); scrape down the bowl halfway through. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter on medium-low speed until absorbed. Repeat, adding 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter at a time, and mix after each addition until the dough is smooth, about 6 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a tight ball by pulling the edges of the dough toward the center. Toss in the prepared bowl to coat with butter, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
  5. Start the topping: Cream the butter with the sugar in the stand mixer (no need to wash the bowl first) fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and thoroughly combined but not fluffy, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the egg yolk, milk powder and vanilla until combined. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low speed until no dry spots remain. Transfer to a large sheet of plastic wrap or a reusable plastic bag and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the dough and chill in the freezer until ready to use.
  6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Finish the bread dough: Knead the bread dough in the bowl until it becomes a tight ball. Divide into 8 equal pieces, each about 80 grams. Flatten 1 piece into a 3-inch disk and gather all the edges to meet at the center. Flip over and roll into a ball on a work surface, cupping the top of the dough with one hand, until the ball is completely smooth. Repeat with the remaining pieces and place 4 balls on each prepared baking sheet. Cover each baking sheet with a sheet of plastic wrap greased with nonstick cooking spray. Let proof near a warm area until each ball puffs to about 4 inches, about 1 hour.
  8. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  9. Finish the topping: Meanwhile, divide the cookie dough disk into 8 portions, each about 32 g, and roll each portion into a ball. Place 4 of the balls on a large sheet of plastic wrap and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Gently flatten each ball into a 2-inch disk, then roll with a rolling pin between the sheets of plastic wrap until each is a 4-inch round – it doesn’t have to be a perfect round. Stack the rounds on a plate, using the plastic wrap to separate each one. Refrigerate until ready to use. Repeat the rolling and stacking process with the remaining cookie dough and 2 more sheets of plastic. Refrigerate on top of the first batch of rounds until the buns are proofed.
  10. For the egg wash: Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.
  11. Remove the plastic wrap from the proofed buns. Drape 1 cookie dough round over each bun and brush with a thin coating of egg wash. Score a shallow crosshatch pattern (1 inch between each line) onto each using the dull side of a small knife.
  12. Bake, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the tops of the buns are golden brown and the edges are light golden, about 15 minutes.
  13. Let cool for 10 minutes then gently transfer each bun to a wire rack. Enjoy warm or completely cooled.

Cook’s Note

For best results, use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients given in grams. Weights will yield a more accurate measurement than volume, which can vary. For the window pane test, slowly pull off a small piece of dough. If you can stretch it into a thin film without breaking until your finger is visible on the other side, it passes the test. If it does break, knead the dough on medium speed for another 2 minutes and test again. This recipe doesn’t require a stand mixer but kneading by hand will take longer to pass the window pane test.