The Iconic Hong Kong Buns 🍞
Being born and raised in Hong Kong, I grew up with eating lots of pineapple buns. Despite having the word “pineapple” in its name, pineapple buns (aka Bolo Bao) don’t contain any pineapple and also don’t taste like pineapple at all. They are named this way due to their golden brown checker-patterned crust which resemble the appearance of a pineapple. If scone is a must-have afternoon tea treat for the British, then pineapple bun is our version of scones. You can find these unique looking buns in any traditional bakeries and cha chaan tengs (aka Hong Kong style cafes). We love serving these pineapple buns with a thick slab of butter stuffed in the middle. Sounds so tempting right?
Veganizing The Recipe 🌱
Traditional pineapple buns are made with eggs, butter and milk, which are definitely not vegan-friendly. As much as I enjoy these sweet buns for afternoon tea, I have to say goodbye to them since I turned vegan 11 years ago. And although veganism has gained more and more popularity here in Hong Kong, vegan options for traditional food (especially baked goods) are still scarce. However, as I become more confident in baking, I decided to experiment with making vegan versions of pineapple buns.
Yudane Method 💦
These super pineapple buns have the texture that resemble most Japanese bread – super soft and fluffy. As I learned more about sourdough baking over the past year, I came across the Yudane Method. Yudane method is the secret to make a soft and fluffy Japanese style bread. In order to bake using this method, you simply mix an equal portion of flour and boiling water. The effect of adding boiling water to flour is that it gelatinises the starch. The gelatinised starch will allow the starch to absorb more water, and thus enhancing the sweetness of the bread.
Yudane method is in fact similar to the Tangzhong method I used in my sourdough milk bread recipe. Unlike the 1:1 flour-to-water ratio in Yudane method, the Tangzhong mixture is made by heating up a mixture of flour and water in the ratio of 1:5 to 65°C.
For more sourdough recipe using Yudane method, check out my the following recipes:
- Super Soft Sourdough Rolls
- Vegan Sourdough Shokupan (aka Japanese Milk Bread)
- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Sourdough Double Chocolate Babka Rolls
- Vegan Sourdough Challah
- Sourdough Blueberry Rolls
- Chocolate Cinnamon Roll Challah
- Japanese Sourdough Butter Rolls
- Matcha Babkallah With Red Bean Paste
- Matcha Black Sesame Sourdough Babka
In this recipe, I used a 40% hydration lievito madre as the stiff levain. The main reason of using stiff levain in this recipe is to reduce the sourness in the bread. You can of course convert your 100% hydration sourdough starter to a 40% hydration starter if you don’t have lievito madre. You can learn how to convert your starter by following this recipe. If you are using lievito madre, remember to refresh at least 3 times (4 hours apart) before using it. You will need 150g of lievito madre for this recipe.
Sourdough Pineapple Buns (Vegan)Course: SourdoughCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium
These pineapple buns are super soft & fluff, and the sugary & crispy crust is a perfect companion to the buttery bun underneath.
- Stiff Levain (40% hydration)
70g bread flour
- Main Dough
147g bread flour
150g stiff levain (from above) or Lievito madre
85g plant milk
5g sea salt
25g vegan butter
All yudane dough (from below)
60g bread flour
60g boiling water
40g vegan butter
7.5g plant milk
25g icing sugar
57.5g all-purpose flour
15g custard powder
2.5g baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- “Egg” Wash
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1 Tbsp plant milk
- Mix all the ingredients of the stiff levain and leave it to rise until doubled or even tripled. It usually takes 3-4 hours at 82°F (28°C)*
- While you are waiting for the stiff levain to rise, add 60g boiling water to 60g bread flour. Leave it aside to cool completely.
- Once the levain is ready to use, place all of the ingredients (except sugar and butter) into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the hook attachment, knead for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together and forms a dough ball.
- Add sugar, then mix for a minute or 2 until everything is mixed in.
- Gradually add in butter (in 2-3 batches). Continue knead for 15 – 20 more minutes or until reach window pane stage.
- Round the dough and let it rest for 30-45 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal portions (around 100g each). Shape each portion into a bun.
- Cover and let it proof at a warm place (28°C or 82.4°F) for 2.5-3 hours or until doubled in size.
- While the buns are proofing, make the crust.
- Sift all-purpose flour, custard powder and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in the icing sugar and salt.
- In a stand mixer, cream the vegan butter. Add vanilla extract and mix well. Slowly add in the flour mixture into the creamed butter at low speed.
- Place the mixture into a cling film, form a long log. Then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before use.
- Assembling the Buns
- When the buns have doubled in size. Cut the chilled crust dough into 6 equal portions (around 20g each).
- Shape each portion into a ball. Roll it out into a circle with 9cm diameter
- Brush the buns with egg wash, then place the crust circle on top of the bun. Brush the crust with egg wash again.
- Baking the Buns
- Preheat oven to 180°C or 356°F.
- Bake for 20 mins until the crust just turned golden brown.
- I created some “rings” by folding some aluminium foils into a long strip, then stapled both end together. I like to surround each dough ball with a ring so that they will come out tall instead of expanding horizontally during baking.