Monday, November 1, 2010

Bo Lo Bao (Pineapple Bun) 菠蘿包

Photo courtesy of Francis Ko and Eric Tsoi
Bo Lo Bao (Pineapple Bun)

It is an invention by Hong Kong bakers and very popular in this ex-English colony. The bun is soft and topped by a crunchy crust. It is often enjoy for breakfast and afternoon tea time. Do not be misled by the name. It does not have any pineapple in the ingredients. It gets the name because it looks like the outer skin of a pineapple.

There are many recipes around but they fail to make the crust crunchy. The traditional crust or top of Bo Lo Bao is made of sugar, eggs, ammonia bicarbonate, flour and lard. But the following recipe substitutes lard with butter for a slightly healthier version. Ammonia bicarbonate is not a common item on most grocery shelves so it is replaced by baking soda and baking powder as well. They produce the same delicious and crunchy texture.

make 15 buns

428g   unbleached bread flour         
68g     sugar                          
1        large egg                             
7g      instant yeast               
80g    water                                                     
1 tsp  custard powder (optional)
7g     salt                            
45g   unsalted butter, room temperature
180g Tong Zhong
(Tong Zhong: put 30g flour and 150g water in a small pot. Stir well and put under low heat until it turns to a paste. Then let it cool to room temperature before mixing in with the main dough.)

Crunchy top:

110g      unbleached all-purpose flour                           
80g        sugar                          
1/4 tsp   baking soda                
1/4 tsp   baking powder                                                                   
20g        unsalted butter, softened                        
40g        vegetable shortening, Spectrum is recommended, see notes
half an egg, slightly beaten

roll out the crunchy top dough in between two sheets of wrap

put the rolled out crunchy top onto the bun and brush with egg wash
Mix all the crunchy top ingredients and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide into 15 parts and roll out to the size of the bun.

The way to make the dough is similar to other breadmaking techniques (click Tong Zhong Bread for more detailed instructions). Mix all the ingredients (except butter, add last) and knead for 15 minutes if you hand knead it; 7 minutes if using a stand mixer. Let it rise in a warm place until double or triple in size. It may take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours, depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Divide evenly into 15 parts. Roll into a ball and let them rise a second time until it almost doubles, about 45 minutes.

Roll out the crunchy top and gently put on top of the dough. Brush with egg wash and bake at a preheated 375°F oven for 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes and best to serve warm.

1)  Custard powder is optional. It gives the bread a yellowish color and nice aroma.
2)  It is easier to roll out the crunchy top dough if you do it in between two plastic wraps.
3)  For a healthier version of vegetable shortening, use organic and non hydrogenated version from Spectrum:


428g     高筋粉     
68g       糖
1 隻      蛋             
7g         酵母         
80g       水                         
1茶匙   吉士粉 (如沒有,可省略)
7g         鹽             
45g       牛油, 室温


110g       麵粉            
80g         糖                
1/4茶匙  梳打粉        
1/4茶匙  泡打粉                                         
20g         牛油            
40g         固體菜油(Crisco or Spectrum) 
半隻       蛋




1)  麵包加了吉士粉可以更香,也會增加色澤。
2)  將脆皮面材料放在二張保鮮紙中更容易捍。


  1. Thanks so much for the recipe and detailed instructions. I was successful the first time making it. I showed it to my mother and now she is making it weekly. This is now her favorite bun recipe.

  2. I'm delighted to know that you are successful in your first try. Keep up the good work !

  3. Those look just like the one's i see at bakeries :P. I'm going to give this a try, but i just to make sure, is the flour for the crunchy top the same high gluten flour or like regular all purpose?

  4. Hi Patrick,

    The type of flour in the crunchy top is cake flour or low gluten flour. I have tried using all purpose flour and the difference is not very big, still tasty and crunchy.

  5. Hi Phoebe,

    Is the 30g flour that used to make Tong Zhong part of the 428g flour?


  6. No, they are separate. Total amount of flour is 458g.

  7. How do you make egg wash?  Whole egg or yolk only?  Do you add milk or water to dilute it?

  8. Hi Kris,

    Egg wash is usually made with an beaten whole egg. Other people would add about a teaspoon of water or milk but I prefer to use it straight without diluting it. If you wants the crust to look more golden, then just use the yolk.

  9. I haven't got vegetable shortening, can i use butter instead?

    1. Hi May,
      I have not tried using only butter for the crust. You can try it and let me know if it is good.

    2. Instead of 20g of butter and 40g of shortening for the crunchy top, I used 50g of butter. The crust turned out just fine P=

    3. Oh really. That's good to know.

    4. if you put 7g of yeast doesnt the buns taste like yeast, can i just use 1tsp

    5. 7g out of 458g of flour is only 1.5%. This is called the baker's percentage. Usually the amount of yeast in making bread is between 1-2%. If you use only 1 tsp(about 4g), then it may take twice as long for it to rise.

  10. i want to try out this recipe, but 15 buns is alot for just myself and husband =\ . . . could i just half all the ingredients and make 7 ??. .

    1. Yes, you can cut everything down by half to make 7 or 8. If you happen to have left over, they can be reheated in a 350F oven for 5 minutes. The crust will turn crunchy again.

  11. what about the 1 large egg?. . i have small to medium sized eggs at home . . would it be okay just to use the 1?

  12. i tried baking these today . . but failed :(

    they didnt rise when baking so they came out looking flat . . and they were all dense and tight inside . . i think its because i didnt proof the dough long enough or i didnt knead it well =\

    1. It sounds like my first try making it a few years ago(check out my first post:grand opening) Don't stop here and I think you know what went wrong. Keep trying.

  13. I found your Baked Char Siu Bao recipe. Can I use this recipe and put the Char Siu inside?
    Thank you for posting all these amazing recipes. I look forward to making them...

    1. Definitely. This recipe is very versatile.You can put different fillings in.

    2. I'm sorry; after reading my question it sounded unclear. Let me re-phrase: I found your Baked Char Siu Bao recipe. Can I use the Bo Lo Bao recipe and put the Char Siu inside? Will they turn out okay?

    3. Thank you, Phoebe. I look forward to trying it.

    4. No problem. Let me know if you have any question.

  14. Thank you for the excellent recipe. The buns came out great. I made 1/2 a batch of regular and 1/2 with bbq pork in the middle. Also a single bun came out looking like a 墨西哥包 because I forgot to put egg wash on it.

  15. I made bo lo char siu boa. It was a hit. thanks so much for the recipe.

  16. Hi Phoebe, I tried your topping recipe this morning and made both custard and cocoa ones. The results were fantastic and they looked like the ones from our favourite Asian bakery! Thanks! I'll be trying out some more recipes from your blog soon.

  17. NO DOUGH

    Hello Phoebe (from the Great White North):

    Please confirm the water amount is 80g (~1/3 cup)in the main dough recipe. The dough turned out dry looking and did not rise well after 3 hours I used a stand mixer to mix, for about 10 minutes.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Michael,
      It sounds like you forget about adding tong zhong? If you do a little math, 80g of water in the main dough plus 150g water in tong zhong give you 230g of total water amount. It is about 53% of water compared to the amount of flour used (baker's percentage).
      If your dough did not rise, I suggest you to check the vitality of the yeast. Usually it is the culprit.


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