Pineapple Buns (Bor Lor Bao)
Lately, I have had a mad craving for Hong Kong Pineapple Buns, aka Bor Lor Bao. Instead of heading down to Chinatown to buy some, I decided to try my hand at making this treat from scratch. Bor Lor Bao are basically sweet yeast-leavened buns with a buttery, sugary "cap." They're called "pineapple buns" because of the criss-cross pattern on top, which looks like the surface of a pineapple.
Sometimes these buns have a sweet filling, but I wanted mine to be plain. After a long Internet search, I finally came across a recipe and got to it. I rarely bake and hardly ever make yeast-leavened bread, so this project was a challenge. I think my Bor Lor Bao turned out okay - they certainly weren't Chinese bakery awesome, but they curbed my craving. If you decide to make this recipe and have a reliable sweet yeast bun recipe, please feel free to use it in place of the one below. Just make enough dough for 12 buns, then add the pineapple caps.
31/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1. In a large mixing bow, combine 1/2 cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Add oil and milk to the butter and warm to body temperature.
3. Pour butter mixture into the flour mixture, add egges (reserve 1 tbsp for egg wash), and stir well to combine. Beat the mixture for 3 minutes.
4. Add remaining flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough out to a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding small amounts of flour if the dough gets too sticky.
5. Place dough in a large bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. During this time, make the "pineapple topping" (recipe below). After the first rising, punch down dough and let rise again until doubled (about 1.5 hours).
6. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, and shape into flat buns. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, cover with a slightly damp towel, and let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).
7. At this point, roll out your refrigerated pineapple topping to a 1/2 cm thickness, manipulating the "dough" as little as possible. If too dry, add a small amount of oil. Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut out circles (12 total) that are slightly less wide than your buns.
8. Brush the buns with a small amount of water, and place your pineapple rounds on top. Lightly score the toppings with a criss-cross patern, and brush buns with reserved egg.
9. Bake buns at 375 degrees for 10 to 13 minutes on middle rack.
Enjoy these buns plain, or with a little butter. Yum!
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp milk
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1. Beat butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy.
2. Add egg yolk, soda, and milk. Mix well.
3. Sift flour and baking powder into the butter mixture. Mix by hand until smooth and not sticky, being careful not to form gluten.
4. Chill topping, wrapped in plastic, in refrigerator for 1 hour or more.