Breads (Sourdough) - Soft Buns/Rolls

Hong Kong Style Pineapple Buns (Sourdough)

September 26, 2021 | Recipe by Bake with Paws
Hong Kong Style Pineapple Buns (Sourodugh)

Hong Kong Style Pineapple Buns (Sourodugh)

I was walking past a local bakery while doing my grocery shopping and came across some beautiful golden Hong Kong Style Rocky Buns also known colloquially as Pineapple Buns 菠蘿包. The name may be a little misleading as it does not contain any pineapple but probably came about because its cracked out crust resembles a pineapple (I think?).  

It also brought back memories for my hubby who said he used to get them in London's Chinatown when he was a student. When I got home I began trying to bake this using sourdough. This is my third attempt.  For my first attempt, the crust turned out a little hard and I did not like the taste of baking soda in the recipe. So I tried it again with different crust dough recipe.  The last two attempts turned out very good.

I used my favourite Sweet Stiff Starter recipe.  The texture is soft and there is no sourness at all.  I am very happy with the result.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.  Do tag me on Instagram @Bakewithpaws if you attempt on this recipe.


Yields:  10 buns (9 cm diameter)


Sweet Stiff Starter:
70g sourdough starter (100% Hydration), preferably use at its peak 
215g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
90g water
35g sugar (I used organic brown sugar)

Main Dough:
150g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
All stiff starter (above)
20g brown sugar (I used 15g organic brown sugar)
1 1/4 tsp (6.6g) salt
50g egg, whisked 
50g whipping or heavy cream
30g water (please hold back 10g and add in later if require)
28g butter, room temperature

Crust Topping:
80g butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g icing sugar (I blend light brown sugar until fine with a food processor)
115g plain flour
30g custard powder (Can be replaced with corn starch and add slightly more vanilla extract)
3/4 tsp (3g) double action baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Egg Wash: 
1 egg + 1 tbsp water, whisked

Baking tray
Round Bun/Bread Coated Baking Paper Cup - 13.5 cm (Top : 9cm, Bottom : 8 cm, Height : 3 cm) 

  1. Sweet Stiff Starter 
    1. Dilute starter with water, stir in sugar and mix in bread flour to become a dough.  Please use stand mixer with paddle attachment to mix if you find hard to mix with hand.
    2. Cover and let it ferment until tripled. I prepared a night before and left it in aircond room (about 24C - 25C room temperature) overnight until tripled.  It took about 8 - 9 hours depending on your starter.  It should take around 4 - 6 hours to get triple at room temperature 28C - 30C. The starter should look smooth and round dome.  It shouldn't collapse.
  2. Main Dough:
    1. Put all ingredients (except butter), including all the stiff starter into a bowl of stand mixer.  I usually like to loosen the stiff starter dough by tearing slightly.
    2. Slightly combine the mixture by hand with the paddle attachment before turning on the machine so that the flour will not splash out.  Using the paddle attachment, mix for about a minute or until all incorporated. This step is critical to prevent  an uneven mixed dough as the stiff starter is rather hard and a dough hook may not be able to mix it well enough.
    3. Change to hook attachment and knead for another 3 minutes at low speed #2 (KA) or until the dough comes together.  Add in butter and continue knead for 10 - 12 minutes at low speed #2 or until the dough become smooth and shiny, and  reach window pane stage.  The whole kneading process, I stopped few times to scrape down the dough from the hook to be sure it is evenly kneaded and also to prevent the motor from overheating.
  3. 1st Proofing/Resting:  
    1. In the same bowl, let the dough rest for 30 - 60 minutes. Keep it covered with cling film or use a lid.  This dough I rested for 45 minutes and the dough rose slightly in 45 minutes.  (I did not find any big differences between 30 minutes to 60 minutes rest.  So, please follow your schedule).
  4. Shaping:
    1. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface then divide dough into 10 equal portions (approx. 73g each for mine). Please use a kitchen scale if you want to be exact.  
    2. Form each portion to a ball.  Please watch the video here "How to shape bun"
    3. Place bun onto the baking paper cup.  
  5. Final Proofing:
    1. Let the buns proof at a warm place until the dough rise double in size and fill up the baking paper cups.   This one took approximately 2 hours at room temperature of 30C (my kitchen temperature).  The duration of proofing depends on your ambient temperature and starter.
  6. Crust Topping (prepare while waiting for the dough to proof or one night in advance):
    1. Sift plain flour, custard powder and baking powder into a mixing bowl.  Stir in the icing sugar and salt.
    2. Cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy and pale.  Add in egg yolk and vanilla extract, mix until well incorporated.
    3. Slowly add in the flour mixture into the beaten butter at low speed. It should look  crumb like.  
    4. Press into a long log. Wrap with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  
  7. To Assemble:
    1. Once the buns about double in size. Cut the chilled crust dough into 10 equal portions (approx. 29g - 30g each).
    2. Shape into a ball.  Press in between cling film with your palm and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle (approx. 9 cm in diameter and 1/8" thick).
    3. Brush the bun with egg wash and place the flat circle crust dough onto the bun.  
    4. After finishing assemble all the buns, brush egg wash again on the crust.
  8. Baking:
    1. Preheat oven at 190C (top & bottom heat) or 170C (fan-forced) for 15 minutes.
    2. Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
    3. Remove bread from oven and let them cool on rack.

Sweet Stiff Starter


Main Dough



A healthy starter is very crucial as advised by Baking with Gina.   It is advisable to feed your starter regularly if you want your bread to rise nicely and to use the starter (levain) at its peak.  A starter that is fed regularly will be more active in general.  If the mother starter is not strong, the bread dough will not rise a lot even though the starter is used at its peak.  


Gluten forms when flour comes in contact with water.  Hydration of the flour causes the sticky and stretchy protein to form, giving structure to the bread.  This makes your bread trap air and rise. 

Gluten in dough can be developed by autolyse, resting, kneading or folding.

The windowpane test is used to determine whether the dough has been sufficiently kneaded.  By gently pulling the dough (or you may pinch off some dough) and trying to stretch it into a thin membrane.  If you are able to stretch the dough paper thin and translucent  without tearing, then the gluten is fully developed.  However, if you can stretch it without tearing but the membrane is not transparent, then the gluten is not yet fully developed.  

However, from my experience not all the recipe can achieve a thin and translucent window pane stage easily.   For example low hydration and low fat dough.  For such recipes, a reasonable window pane is good enough and it can be left to rest. Gluten will continue to develop while resting.  Exercising restraint to not over-knead the dough prevents the gluten from being overworked and broken.   Some of you may have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  It is because the dough is over kneaded. 

The total kneading time for me is usually 15 minutes at low speeds except brioche dough with high fat percentage or dough using liquid fat which usually takes a little longer (maybe 18-20 mins).

From my experience, I found that high hydration dough with high percentage of fat will be easy to stretch and achieve a paper thin windowpane stage.


Why do I use milk powder?  
  1. Milk or milk powder will enhance the flavour of the bread and makes the bread texture softer due to the fat content of the milk. 
  2. Milk powder is shelf stable and you can have it anytime when you want to use.  Unlike liquid milk you need to finish within a certain time before it spoils.

For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.


The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.   To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  The protein content is around  12 - 13%.


The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 


Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate, environment, flour and your starter. 

If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:

  1. Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
  2. If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
  3. If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
  4. There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 

If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof until the tip of the dough just reaches the rim of the pan, around 80% - 90% in size.


Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.


  1. Hi Bwp. Another beautiful posts from you as always. Your bun color is so nice and even. This is one of my fav bun. Will certainly try and update. By the way does this stay soft for couple days! Thanks again. Be safe. Chloe

    1. Hi, thanks for following my posts always. Have you tried this? I did not use Yudane method for this. But, I used whipping cream. However, it did not stay fresh as long as yudane method bread.

      Cheers :)

  2. If I were to do sweet stiff starter with yudane method which recipe of yours should I use? Do u think the yudane dough would be stiff enough to support the crust? I don't have much time to bake so hopefully u can help me with my questions as always. By the way the cracks on the crust look so pretty. Did u bake with fan on? My oven doesn't come with fan. Thanks again and be well. Chloe

    1. Hi, Thanks for the compliment.

      Please use the Sourdough Shokupan Recipe (Sweet Stiff Starter) as below link:

      But, this recipe can do approximately 8 - 9 buns only instead of 10 buns if you want this size of buns.

      It is ok to use the yudane method recipe it should work the same.
      Yes, I baked with 4D air. I think is the same of fan-forced.


  3. Hi Bwp. Thanks as usual with your prompt response. How many grams is your dough per portion. If I don't have your type of paper case can I just leave it on a parchment paper? Thanks for help. Chloe.

  4. Hi Chloe,

    You are most welcome.. It is about 73g as mentioned on Step 4 :) Yes, just baked without paper cup is fine. Actually, the original Hong Kong Pineapple Buns are without paper cups if I am not wrong. The paper cups are just to support the buns to rise vertical instead and make the buns look prettier that's all.

    Happy baking :)

  5. Hi, if I were to use Yudane method for polo bun , may I know how much of intsant yeast should I add in? And what is the ratio proportion for yudane dough? Thanks for help, Xiao Ying

    1. Hi, thanks for asking. You can use 80g of flour and 80g of boiling water for yudane dough. For instant yeast, maybe about 1 1/4 tsp. Total flour use is 400g.

      Or you can use this below link for yeast buns:

      Cheers :)


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