Nick was probably just a little over one when we stopped by the Chinese bakery, which had just opened in Berkeley, to pick up an assortment of buns for breakfast. We gave him a pineapple bun to try and he simply inhaled it!
He was such a picky eater by the age of one, we were thrilled to find any food that he’s interested in. I decided to take a stab at making them at home, so we don’t have to go to the store every day. To my surprise, they were actually not too hard to make.
The only little hiccup I had was underestimating how long it took to make the dough. Because our kitchen is the coldest room in the house, it would always take much longer than most recipes indicated for proofing. Not knowing this the first time, my first batch of buns came out a little flat. Don’t worry if you run into the same problem. Pretty or not, these buns are delicious!
Since then, I’ve purchased a bread machine, which makes life so much easier, and, I have to say, my pineapple buns are looking, and tasting, much better! They go well with a cup of coffee for breakfast, or served as an afternoon snack. Enjoy!
Prep time: 2.5 hours
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 12 buns
I’ve tried several recipes but always end up coming back to this one here. I have reduced the sugar a bit, and sometimes instead of heavy cream, I use butter (unsalted, about 40g/3 tbsp). Also, a personal preference of mine, when I bake, I measure the ingredients by weight.
Bread dough (using a Zojirushi breadmaker):
150g heavy cream
1 large egg
55g cake flour (I use King Arthur)
400g bread flour (I use King Arthur)
2.8g (1 tbsp) active dry yeast
Measure and add the ingredients into the baking pan in the order listed, liquid and wet ingredients first, followed by dry ingredients, and finally, make a depression in the middle of the flour and place the yeast. I use the “Regular Dough” cycle on my Zojirushi and it turns out beautifully. While the dough is being formed, making the topping dough.
Note: my breadmaker automatically brings everything to room temperature before starting. If you are using a mixer or mixing by hand, be sure to let all ingredients reach room temperature first. Knead until the dough is not sticky and feels elastic to the touch, and set the dough aside for proofing until 2.5 times in size.
30g dry milk powder
155g all-purpose flour
3g (1/2 tsp) baking soda
1.2g (1/4 tsp) baking powder
115g Baker’s Sugar
50g vegetable shortening
1 egg yolk
1g (1/4 tsp) vanilla extract
In a stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients first. Add the shortening, milk, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix everything well until the dough comes together and is sticky and solid. If it’s appears too flaky and not forming a dough, add a little more milk (1 teaspoon at a time). If the dough is too creamy, add more flour. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Note: it can be a bit tricky to get this part right. The dough needs to be soft enough you can easily shape and wrap it over the buns, but not too “wet” that it starts losing its shape and collapses during the final rise.
Once the bread dough is ready, place it on a clean surface. You can sprinkle some flour on the surface and your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Knead and punch out all the air. Divide into 12 equal portions—I like to do this by weight. Form each piece into a round bun (I do it by folding the dough under until the top is perfectly smooth and round) and place on a baking cup/cupcake liner. Arrange the buns on a baking sheet, with enough space around each bun to allow them to expand while baking. Cover, and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Separate the topping dough into 12 equal pieces and roll them into balls. Flatten each ball with your fingers and wrap a sheet of topping dough over each bun (similar to this video). The topping will crack nicely on its own, but if you want them to look like the store bought version, you can use a baker’s blade or a knife to score the topping’s surface.
Allow the buns to rise for another 15-20 minutes.
Egg wash (to finish the buns):
a splash of cold water or milk
Whisk until until pale yellow and perfectly mixed.
Brush each bun with the egg wash and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy while the buns are still warm.
Store and reheat:
I store extra buns in a large tupperware and set in a cool, dry spot in our kitchen. They are usually gone by the second or third day, but to store them for a few more days, you can also put them in the refrigerator. I prefer to eat the buns warmed up, so I usually pop them in the oven and toast (or bake at 360 degrees F) for 5 minutes before serving.