Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hong Kong Po Lor Pao ('Pineapple Bun')

One of the best selling buns in Hong Kong and simply in each and every Chinatown bakery in the Western Hemisphere. This bun is unique for its separate sweet crust top that is made up separately from the dough of the bun itself, and placed on top of the bread dough prior to the baking. The crack appearance which is also crumbly and crusty at the same time is a nice texture addition to the soft bun itself. Originally this bun is without any filling and is called the pineapple bun for the reason that the crust part looks like pineapple but has nothing to do with the fruit at all in its content. You can see trays of these buns around early mornings and afternoon tea time hours lining the glass display cases of Hong Kong's local coffeeshops and they are best eaten when freshly out of the oven.

I inserted luncheon meat into some of the buns for a different taste option. The crust itself contains sugar and the luncheon meat adds a savory salty taste to the whole of the bun. As there is already sugar mixed into the bread dough itself, I reduced the sugar amount by 2/3 of the amount required for the crust part in the recipe. I omitted the addition of the condensed milk as I don't think it is necessary and the amount stated in the given recipe was negligible afterall.

For the bun part, I used the same recipe as the Taro Bun which yields 14 buns altogether for this recipe. The weigh of the bread dough for each individual bun will remain the same at 40g each and the crust also 40g each as it must cover the top half part of the bun dough prior to baking and once baked, the bun will expand, hence pushing the top crust apart. For the original version without filling, the dough is shaped into balls while for the one that contained the luncheon meat, I roll it out a little to 1/2 inch thick and rectangular and placed the meat in the middle and fold the 2 edges together to enclose.

The luncheon meat takes more time to cook and bake, around 15 mins and the one without filling will take between 10 to 12 mins. Egg wash is applied to give the yellow browning. The sizes of these buns were intently made smaller than those found in the coffeeshops for easier eating, especially kids.

Recipe :

For Bun , refer to here omitting the taro filling ingredient:


5 to 7 slices of luncheon meat/SPAM (1/3 inch thick)

Crust :
1 cup all Purpose Flour
1 tbsp butter softened (room temperature)
1 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp dried milk powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup vegetable or corn oil
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 egg yolk
1 egg, beaten

Method :
For Bun, refer here omitting the taro filling part

For Crust :
1)Place the flour, sugar, dried milk powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Stir with a fork to mix.
2)Beat in the egg yolk. Stir roughly with the fork to get clumps.
3)Pour in the evaporated milk and continue to mix. Stir in the vegetable oil and mix thoroughly.
4)Cut the butter into little pieces and drop randomly into the flour & oil mixture. Using your hands, knead and rub in the butter to form a soft mixture, resembling cookie dough. Do this for 1 min. Divide this into 14 balls of equal size and set aside.

Assembly :
1)When the bread dough has been rested, risen and kneaded twice in accordance with the recipe for the dough, divide the dough into 14 balls. Place 7 balls into a foil cupcake liner each. For the remaining 7 balls, roll each by using a small rolling pin to a rectangle of 1/2 inch thick. Place one slice of the SPAM onto one dough and fold up on 2 edges to enclose. Repeat with the rest and place on aluminum liner or greased baking pan.

2)Take one of the crust ball and flatten it slightly on a clean surface, slightly bigger than the top surface of the buns. Use a scraper to lift up the crust and place on top of the bun, overlapping the top part of the buns. Continue with the rest. When done , cover with cling film and let everything rest for a further 20 mins.

3)Preheat oven to 400F. Place the rack to the lower part of the oven. When ready, brush the beaten egg on the crust and the buns. For the plain bun, bake between 10 to 12 mins and for the SPAM bun, bake for 15 mins. Rotate pans half way.

4)Remove from oven and let cool or serve warm.

Makes : 12 to 14 buns