Recipes·Technical Bake

Bō Luó Bāo (with bō luó yóu variation)

These sweet buns rise to the occasion as the Technical Bake during Bread Week.

These sweet buns rise to the occasion as the Technical Bake during Bread Week

These sweet buns rise to the occasion as the Technical Bake during Bread Week. (Geoff George / The Great Canadian Baking Show)

Hong Kong’s bō luó bāo, translated as pineapple buns, are sweet rolls which, despite their name, do not actually contain any pineapple. Rather, they’re named for their craquelin topping, which resembles the fruit’s textured skin.

The secret to making these buns incredibly soft and pillowy is the addition of tangzhong, a roux added to the bread dough. 

You can also make them into bō luó yóu by sandwiching a generous slab of homemade butter inside.

Bō luó bāo were the Technical Bake for Bread Week in Season 5 of The Great Canadian Baking Show.

Bō Luó Bāo

Ingredients

Bread Dough:

  • 2 tbsp plus 3 cups (8 g plus 360 g) bread flour, divided
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ⅓ cup 35% cream
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp (29 g) unsalted butter, softened

Craquelin:

  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (128 g) granulated sugar
  • Seeds of ½ vanilla bean pod (slit pod lengthwise and remove seeds with a knife)
  • 1 cup (90 g) sifted cake and pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp skim milk powder
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp powdered yellow food colouring
  • 3 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp 35% cream (approx.)

Butter:

  • 4 cups 35% cream
  • ½ to ¾ tsp flaked sea salt

Egg Wash:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

Garnish:

  • Granulated sugar

Preparation

If using a proofing drawer, heat to 175 F.

Bread Dough:
To make the tangzhong, place 2 tablespoons of bread flour in a small saucepan and whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook over medium-high, whisking until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and chill over ice water. 

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 3 cups of bread flour, yeast and salt, and beat on low speed to combine. Add the cooled tangzhong, sweetened condensed milk, cream, water and egg, and beat on medium until combined, about 4 minutes. 

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, working the dough until it’s soft and has a sheen, about 10 minutes. (It should pass the windowpane test, meaning you should be able to stretch it thin enough for light to pass through and without it breaking.) Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a proofing drawer or a warm place until pillowy and well puffed (it won’t double), about 35 to 60 minutes. 

Craquelin:
Whirl the sugar in a food processor to make superfine sugar. Transfer to a bowl and rub in the vanilla seeds with your hands. Whisk in the cake flour, milk powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt, then whisk in the food colouring. Add the shortening and rub it in with your hands until you have fine, even crumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and cream with a fork. 

Using your hands, press the mixture into the bowl. Turn it out onto a work surface and knead well until the ingredients hold together, adding more cream a ½ teaspoon at a time until hydrated. The mixture should hold together when pressed into a ball, but should not crack. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten and chill for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each into a ball. Press one ball into a disc, place between wax paper or parchment paper, and roll into a 3½-inch circle. Repeat with the remaining balls, layering the circles with paper in between. Chill until firm.

Butter Squares:
Whirl the cream in a food processor until butter forms in clumps and liquid separates, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a spoon, remove the butter chunks and place in a bowl of cold water. Reserve the buttermilk for a future recipe. 

Press the butter chunks against the side of the bowl using the back of a spoon to expel any liquid. Drain and repeat until the liquid is clear when the butter is pressed. Drain and pat the butter dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with sea salt and knead to combine.

Divide the butter into 6 equal portions. Use wax paper to press and shape each into a 3-inch square. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. 

Bread Dough:
Heat the oven to 400 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 equal portions. Roll six of the portions into smooth balls and place on a prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a proofing drawer or warm environment until each one is in the shape of a 2½-inch-wide ball, 13 to 25 minutes. 

While the first tray of buns are proofing, roll out the remaining dough and set on the other prepared baking sheet without covering. Cover and proof the second tray while the first tray bakes. 

Egg Wash:
Whisk the egg yolks, water and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. 

Brush the first six buns with egg wash and cover them with the craquelin, gently contouring the topping with your fingers to soften it and wrap it around the bun. Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

Bake until the buns are puffed and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Rotate the tray and reduce the oven temperature to 350 F, baking until the tops are evenly browned and the buns are fully baked, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the buns cool on the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before transferring them to another cooling rack. 

Immediately increase the oven temperature to 400 F and repeat the steps with the remaining tray of buns. 

Slit six buns like a hamburger bun and place one square of chilled butter in each. Place the buns on a flattened muffin liner and arrange on a serving platter. 

Makes 12 buns, 6 filled with butter slabs

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