Another Asian bakery bun ticked off the list! When I was a kid I used to always wonder why they were called bo lo bao (pineapple bun) when it didn't taste or have any pineapple inside. Apparently it is named like that due to the look of the bun especially when additional carvings are made on top of the cookie crust prior baking. The usual bakery I go to don't carve their buns, so I didn't bother.
Bo lo bao reminds me of the Japanese melon bread in which a cookie crust is placed on top of the bun prior baking. Some of the issues on baking this type of bread is explained in Yakitate!! Japan during the melon challenge. I think it was on the lines of the different optimum temperatures of the bread and cookie thus the cookie will either be under baked or the bread becomes too dry. Therefore Kazuma Azuma, decides to bakes them separately and sandwiches the cookie to the crust with whipped cream prior serving. Combining the two components together later helped maintained the softness of the bun and the crispiness of the cookie. (Japan #58 has been produced in real life too.)
Fortunately, the problem doesn't apply to the HK version, but the topping does get soft and moist the day after. But if you have leftovers, not to worry! Cut them in half, pop them into the oven until the crust crisps and enjoy with a slab of butter in the middle.
Serve with some milk tea for a proper Hong Kong style 下午茶 (afternoon tea)!
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HK style pineapple bun (bo lo bao) (菠萝包) makes 10 regular or 20 mini buns
method and topping adapted from Phoebe's More Than Bread
250ml milk (or 2 heaped Tb of milk powder + water)
60ml cooking oil
80g caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp bread improver (optional)
450g bread flour
1 3/4 tsp dry yeast
60g unsalted butter, softened
80g raw sugar
100g plain flour, sifted
10g custard / Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
1/2 large egg, beaten
1/2 large egg, for the glaze
Place bread ingredients into the bread machine bowl according to manufacturer instructions. Set to 'dough function' (30 mins knead, 60 minutes prove)*. Add a tablespoon of water or two if the dough appears to be dry after a few turns.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined. Form a ball, wrap with cling film and refrigerate until required.
Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface after the first prove. Gently flatten dough and divide into 10 x 86g or 20 x 43g** dough pieces. Shape them into small balls and transfer to a lined baking tray. Ensure there is ample space for the bread to rise. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place until dough doubles in size***.
Roll bun topping thinly in between two sheets of cling film**** when the second prove is almost finished. Use a cookie cutter about the same size as your bun and cut out rounds.
Lightly brush bread tops with beaten egg and gently secure the cut out topping. Brush with beaten egg again.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 10 - 15 minutes or until crust is golden and crunchy. Transfer to a cooling rack immediately.
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*Alternatively, combine all dry ingredients and form a well. Combine all wet ingredients and gradually pour into the dry ingredients to form a rough dough. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead until smooth. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size - this is the first prove.
**I find that the dough does not rise as well if I divide them into small pieces. I recommend making the regular sized buns (86g dough).
***For the second prove, I put them in a 28-30 degrees Celsius oven for 40 - 60 minutes. Brush with beaten egg every 20 minutes.
****Topping will crumble if it is too cold, take out 5 minutes prior using.