Indulge a dessert craving with this sweet bun recipe complete with 3 delicious layers! This pastry has a doughy bread bun bottom, a crisp cookie layer on top, and a gooey-sweet matcha custard filling.
The pineapple bun is a popular dessert pastry in Chinese culture that doesn’t actually contain pineapple. It gets its fruity name from the grid-like pattern that adorns the sweet cookie crust layer resembling a pineapple. Many recipes for pineapple buns call for tricky ingredients, but the ingredients in this recipe are easily found at most grocery stores. The measurements are also simplified for a foolproof recipe.
Before making the buns, the matcha-custard is made on the stovetop. The custard contains egg yolks to give it a rich, velvety texture. Unlike traditional vanilla custard, this version is blended with matcha tea crystals that add a vibrant green hue and signature earthy green tea flavor. Leftover custard can be used in other pastries or added to ice cream. The filling can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated for less prep the day of.
The Pineapple Bun Dough
The dough for the buns starts with a floury paste known as tangzhong. This simple water roux helps keep bread and pastries soft and fluffy. The paste is then added with the remaining ingredients to a stand mixer to create a dough that isn’t sticky and quite easy to work with. Sweetened condensed milk gives the dough sweet flavor adding to its dessert appeal.
The Cookie Crust Topping
The final layer of the buns is the crispy, sugary layer that blankets each bun. Superfine sugar gives the layer its crunchiness. Superfine sugar can be purchased, but it’s even easier to make your own by adding cane sugar to a spice grinder or a personal sized blender to grind until fine.
Once the buns are assembled they are baked in two batches until the cookie layer is golden brown and crackled. Serve the buns just slightly warm for the best flavor.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 sachet Pique Sun Goddess Matcha
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
For Pineapple Bun Dough
- Neutral oil for greasing
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- 1 large egg
- 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
For Egg Wash
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- Start by making the matcha-custard filling. Heat whole milk over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add vanilla and continue to heat until steaming and bubbles form around sides, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a medium mixing bowl until pale yellow. Add flour and continue to whisk until fully blended into yolks. Turn heat off and whisk in 2 sachets of matcha tea crystals.
- Whisking constantly, pour about 1/3 cup of milk mixture over egg mixture. Continue to gradually whisk in milk mixture until combined. Pour mixture back into saucepan and heat over low heat. Whisk constantly as mixture heats. At first, there may be some foam at the top, but as the mixture heats and thickens it will become smooth and deepen in color. After 5-6 minutes, the mixture should be thick like custard. Turn heat off and pour into a small bowl. Cool at room temperature for 20 minutes then place in a bowl in the refrigerator while preparing dough.
- To make dough for pineapple buns: Combine 1/3 cup of water with 2 tablespoons flour in a heat-safe bowl. Microwave mixture for 40 seconds. Continue to microwave in 5-second increments until the mixture is thick and paste-like. Set aside on countertop to thicken and cool.
- Heat whole milk in a heat-safe bowl for 40-45 seconds. The milk should be between 110-120ºF. Stir in sugar. Add 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast and stir to incorporate. Allow mixture to sit on the countertop for 5-7 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, tangzhong, sweetened condensed milk, egg, melted butter, and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough for 10 minutes on low speed.
- Use a spatula to gather the dough and knead on a clean countertop for 30 seconds. Form the dough into a ball and place in a medium greased mixing bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
- In the meantime, cream the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer until smooth. Gradually add superfine sugar while mixing. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Gradually mix flour into wet ingredients. Once mixture resembles dough, turn the mixer off and form dough into a ball. Place in a small bowl and cover. Refrigerate.
- Line 2 medium baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch the dough a few times softly to release air. Divide the pineapple bun dough into 2 equal portions. Place 1 portion of the dough in a bowl and cover. Refrigerate while preparing the first batch of buns.
- Divide the other dough into 6 equal portions. Knead 1 piece a few times to remove air bubbles. Place into your hand and flatten into a disc about 4-5 inches in diameter. Spoon 1 teaspoon of matcha custard in the center. Seal by pinching the edges of the dough and then pressing the opposite sides together. Form into a ball shape and place on baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces of dough. Cover buns with plastic wrap and allow them to proof for 30 minutes longer.
- While buns are proofing, whisk together egg wash in a small bowl and refrigerate.
- Once the dough has almost finished proofing, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Form the cookie crust dough into 12 small balls using 1 tablespoon to scoop. Flatten the dough into a disk using hands. Place a disk of dough on the tops of each bun. Use a sharp knife to run over the crust, creating a pineapple grid. Brush the tops with egg wash.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the crust on top is light golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough, crust and egg wash. Cool buns on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes longer. Serve slightly warm. Store buns in an airtight container in a dry spot.
Recommended for this recipe:
Pique Sun Goddess Matcha
The world’s purest matcha, crafted to the highest standards of the finest ceremonial grade matcha. Designed for mindfulness. A mug full of zen.