Hong Kong: Pineapple Bun

Bakery: Kam Land Bakery
City: 
Oakland, CA

Yesterday morning, my father and I went to Oakland Chinatown to get several buns for our church‘s refreshment/snack time. One of the buns my father ordered was the pineapple custard bun.

The top is crunchy but also very flaky so you have to eat with care, otherwise it all falls apart easily. The pineapple bun from this bakery also has a creamy custard filling. Some bakeries won’t have a filling. There are usually no pineapples in the bun; it’s called pineapple bun (bo lo bao) because the top is said to resemble the outer surface of a pineapple.

pineapple bun - 1 pineapple bun - 2

More info about pineapple buns, from Wikipedia:

A pineapple bun is a kind of sweet bun predominantly popular in Hong Kong and Macau, though they are not uncommon in Chinatowns worldwide. It is known in Cantonese Chinese as bo lo baau, in which “bo lo” means “pineapple”, and “baau” refers to a kind of bun-like item in Chinese cuisine.

The top of the pineapple bun (the part which is made to resemble a pineapple) is made of a dough similar to that used to make sugar cookies, which consists of sugar, eggs, flour, and lard. It is crunchy and is quite sweet compared to the bread underneath. The bread dough underneath is the same used in Chinese style Western breads, which is a softer and sweeter dough compared to Western breads. It is popular with breakfast or afternoon tea.

Although it is known as “pineapple bun”, the traditional version contains no pineapple. The name originated from the fact that its sugary top crust is cooked to a golden-brown color, and because its checkered top resembles the epicarp of a pineapple. It is very similar to the Japanese melonpan in its manner of cooking and in the fact that it is named according to its appearance.

Many Hong Kong restaurants, such as cha chaan tengs and dai pai dongs, offer an item called a “buttered pineapple bun”, which is a pineapple bun with a piece of butter stuffed inside. They are known in Cantonese Chinese as bo lo yau (菠蘿油), in which “bo lo ” means “pineapple,” and “‘yau'” (oil) refers to butter. Variants of this include using custard in place of butter. Typically, the bun would be brought hot from the oven to the diner’s table, and served halved with a large slab of butter in between the halves. This item is sometimes criticized for containing too much fat and cholesterol.

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