Operation Bakery Clone: Pineapple Buns

I'm a fan of Chinese bakeries. Not surprisingly, the cakes and breads they make are distinctly different from those found in Western bakeries. The cakes are almost always built on chiffon sponges and iced with whipped cream. The sponge is unlike any other that I have had elsewhere. It is very finely textured, mildly sweet, and perfumed with an aroma that can only be described as "eggy" (in a good way). The buns, with both savory and sweet fillings, are also sweet, extremely soft, and shiny golden brown. Delicious.

For me, part of the intrigue is that authentic recipes are difficult to find (especially in English). I wanted to see if I could make my own versions of some of my favourites at home. It may be impossible to duplicate some of the recipes since I won't use commercial softeners and stabilizers, but who wants to eat that stuff anyways?

After a couple of years of sporadic searching, I finally came across a recipe for pineapple buns that seemed promising. Pineapple buns are plain sweet buns topped with a cracked cookie-like crust. They don't actually have any pineapple in them; they are named for the appearance of the topping. I wasn't aware of that before and had tried a recipe that called for crushed pineapple. Needless to say, it didn't quite work out.

This recipe is a bit more complicated than the usual bread recipe. The dough is very sticky and soft and the kneading instructions called for some stress-relieving throwing "with all your might on the work surface." The dough requires three rises, and the topping is made separately like pie dough. Of course, it would take less than a quarter of the time to go and just buy some, but the work was completely worth it. They baked up just like store bought, but without any sketchy additives. The sticky, almost runny dough yielded a very light bread, and the topping cracked to cobblestone-y perfection in the oven. And I had never had a pineapple bun warm from the oven before. It was bread nirvana.

I would love to share the recipe but I cannot post it. Send an email to beetsandbites@gmail.com and I will send it to you.

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