Pineapple buns named for their look, not taste
A Pineapple Bun -- Baw Low Bao in Cantonese (translation: Pineapple Bun) -- doesn't contain any pineapple. It gets its name from its resemblance to a pineapple, which can be discerned if you squint and perhaps are a bit liquored up.
The Hong Kong specialty is a sweet roll with a unique topping -- a second sweet dough that is rolled out thin and spread over the unbaked roll. It is marked with a cross-hatch pattern that resembles the bumpy skin of a pineapple.
C. Stibbard e-mailed in search of a recipe, missing them since moving away from Chinatown. "They taste so good that they must be bad for you."
I found several recipes, settling on a version that was as simple as possible for a yeast bread -- regular flour, not bread flour, no powdered milk or lard, and using rapid-rise yeast to speed things up. Made a batch, tasted it against a bun from a Chinatown bakery -- and it was a fair comparison. Plus, if you make it yourself, you can eat it warm out of the oven.
And that's even better than Chinatown.
3-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast (1 package)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, beaten
Combine 1/2 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
Combine butter, oil and milk; heat to 120 to 130 degrees (accurate temperature is critical to activate the yeast without killing it). Stir milk mixture into flour mixture. Let sit 5 minutes.
Beat mixture on low speed. Add eggs; beat 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour, until soft dough forms.
Turn onto floured surface and knead gently a few times, then form into a ball and place in lightly greased bowl. Cover and set aside 45 minutes, until nearly double in size.
Meanwhile, make topping dough: Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolk, soda and milk. Sift flour and baking powder into butter mixture. Mix gently by hand until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill.
Punch down dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces, roll each piece into a ball and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Press down to flatten each bun. Cover and let rise until doubled, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Divide topping dough into 12 pieces; roll into balls and flatten with rolling pin into thin rounds that will cover the buns.
Brush buns with water; cover each with topping dough. Lightly score toppings with 3 horizontal and 3 vertical lines, crisscrossing. Brush buns generously with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 12.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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