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Pineapple Bread

Soft milky bread with a crusty golden brown topping; take one bite of this pineapple bread, and you will understand why this is a favorite in any Chinese bakery.
Pineapple bread / 菠蘿包 / Bo Luo Bao

Pineapple bread / 菠蘿包 / Bo Luo Bao

I grow up with two kinds of a bakery when I was a little child. The first kind was very down to earth, located in a wet market, or perhaps a tiny mom-and-pop shop, and sold nothing but milk bread: milk bread loaves, milk bread buns, plain milk bread, or filled milk bread. The second kind was the fancy kind, located in a mall, and sold fancy-looking bread, cookies, puddings, and cakes with fancy frosting.

I like the first kind of bakery better, and you can buy pineapple bread from this type of bakeries. My grandma was a regular, and I always begged her to buy me the “polo” bread. I have no clue what it means until years later, but that’s the memory I have with this bread.

Ingredients for pineapple bread: all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, milk, eggs, butter, cake flour, and baking powder.

Ingredients for pineapple bread: all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, milk, eggs, butter, cake flour, and baking powder.

What is pineapple bread?

Despite the name, there are zero pineapples in this bread. None! Zilch! So how do we end up with this name?

Supposedly, the name comes from the crackling pattern made from the topping of this bread. The golden color crust and the cracks resemble a pineapple, though it is a stretch of the imagination since I have never held one of these bread in my hands and think, oh, this looks like a pineapple.

If you are familiar with Japanese bakeries, you may have tried melon bread before. Melon bread is very similar to pineapple bread, and just like the Chinese version, the Japanese version also has zero melon in it. Except the Japanese decided to go with melon instead of pineapple. ;)

Bread dough: (1) Knead all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, egg, and warm milk. (2) Add room temperature butter. (3) Knead until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. (4) Proof until the volume of the dough has doubled.

Bread dough: (1) Knead all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, egg, and warm milk. (2) Add room temperature butter. (3) Knead until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. (4) Proof until the volume of the dough has doubled.

Ingredients for pineapple bread

There are two parts to this bread: the bread dough and the topping.

We need all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, milk, egg, and unsalted butter for the dough. And we need unsalted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, cake flour, and baking powder for the topping.

Butter, Lard, or Vegetable Shortening?

If you want the most traditional flavor and texture, you need to use lard for the topping instead of butter.

You can get a similar texture to lard by using vegetable shortening, but a topping using butter tastes more delicious than vegetable shortening.

In short, lard is the best option, followed by butter, and lastly, vegetable shortening.

Pineapple bread topping: (1) Mix room temperature butter with sugar. (2) Add egg and vanilla (if using). (3) Add cake flour and baking powder and mix until it can gather into a ball. (4) Divide into 12 portions and shape each into a ball.

Pineapple bread topping: (1) Mix room temperature butter with sugar. (2) Add egg and vanilla (if using). (3) Add cake flour and baking powder and mix until it can gather into a ball. (4) Divide into 12 portions and shape each into a ball.

Prepare the bread dough and the topping

1. Knead bread dough

Mix all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well, then add warm milk and egg. Stir into a shaggy mass, then knead until smooth. Add the butter and knead until the butter is well mixed into the dough. Stop kneading once the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. You can add flour if the dough feels too tacky, one tablespoon at a time.

2. First proof

Place the dough in a mixing bowl, and wrap it with a wet kitchen towel or a saran wrap. Proof the dough in a warm kitchen for about 1 hour, or until the volume has doubled.

3. Prepare the topping

Mix soft room temperature butter and sugar with a silicone spatula in a mixing bowl. Add egg and vanilla (if using), and mix until combined. Sift in cake flour and baking powder, continue mixing until it comes together into a ball.

4. Chill the topping

Divide the topping into 12 portions, and shape each into a round ball. Arrange them on a plate lined with parchment paper. Cover with a saran wrap, and chill in the fridge for later.

(1) Divide the bread dough into 12 portions and knead each into a ball. (2) Arrange on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper and proof for the second time. (3) Flatten the topping with the help of parchment paper and rolling pin. (4) Cover the top of each bread dough with the topping and brush with an egg wash.

(1) Divide the bread dough into 12 portions and knead each into a ball. (2) Arrange on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper and proof for the second time. (3) Flatten the topping with the help of parchment paper and rolling pin. (4) Cover the top of each bread dough with the topping and brush with an egg wash.

Shaping and baking pineapple bread

1. Second proof

Once the bread dough has finished its first proof, punch through it to release air bubbles. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 portions, and knead each into a ball. Arrange these on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with a wet kitchen towel/saran wrap, and proof for the second time for 45 minutes.

2. Add topping

Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Remove the topping from the fridge. With the help of parchment paper and rolling pin, roll each ball of topping into a flat disc, and use it to cover each dough.

3. Bake the bread

Apply egg wash (mix together egg yolk and milk) to each of the toppings, then bake the bread in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) and continue baking for another 23-25 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

Bake in the oven until the bread is golden brown.

Bake in the oven until the bread is golden brown.

Other Asian milk bread recipes to try

If you love the bread from a Chinese bakery, a Japanese bakery, or a Korean bakery, you may try some of my other bread recipes:

Pineapple Bread

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 3 hours 25 mins

Serves: 12

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Bread dough
  • 360-400 gram all-purpose flour
  • 80 gram sugar
  • 7 gram (2 1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 35 gram (2 1/2 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Topping
  • 60 gram (4 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100 gram sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 200 gram cake flour (Note 1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (Note 2)
  • Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Instructions

  1. Bread dough: Mix all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well, then add warm milk and egg. Stir into a shaggy mass, then knead until smooth. Add the butter and knead until the butter is well mixed into the dough. Stop kneading once the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic. You can add flour if the dough feels too tacky, one tablespoon at a time.
  2. First proof: Place the dough in a mixing bowl, and wrap it with a wet kitchen towel or a saran wrap. Proof the dough in a warm kitchen for about 1 hour, or until the volume has doubled.
  3. Prepare the topping: Mix soft room temperature butter and sugar with a silicone spatula in a mixing bowl. Add egg and vanilla (if using), and mix until combined. Sift in cake flour and baking powder, continue mixing until it comes together into a ball.
  4. Chill the topping: Divide the topping into 12 portions, and shape each into a round ball. Arrange them on a plate lined with parchment paper. Cover with a saran wrap, and chill in the fridge for later.
  5. Second proof: Once the bread dough has finished its first proof, punch through it to release air bubbles. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 portions, and knead each into a ball. Arrange these on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with a wet kitchen towel/saran wrap, and proof for the second time for 45 minutes.
  6. Add topping: Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Remove the topping from the fridge. With the help of parchment paper and rolling pin, roll each ball of topping into a flat disc, and use it to cover each dough.
  7. Bake the bread: Apply egg wash (mix together egg yolk and milk) to each of the toppings, then bake the bread in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) and continue baking for another 23-25 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

Notes

  • (1) If you have dry milk powder, you can use 175 grams of cake flour and 25 grams of dry milk powder instead of 200 grams of cake flour. The addition of milk powder will make the topping even more flavorful.
  • (2) For a crispier topping, you can use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda instead of 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen

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