I’ll be running my first half-marathon TOMORROW (cue heavy gasping), and my superbly disciplined, nonexistent training regimen has left me *really* prepared. Actually, I’m pretty sure I developed shin splints from chronic never-stretching after running long distances, and my legs are getting payback at me, big time. I’ve also been preparing by eating really nutritious, healthy food, as evidenced by these buns (sigh). I should know better. So right now my body is nowhere near where I’d like it to be for Sunday, but I will sure as heck give it my best.
I’m counting on that marathon magic and adrenaline of having a zillion runners next to you. That helps too.
My obsession with chewy bread is never ending, and when it’s encrusted with a crisp, golden, cookie topping– what could be better?
I’m talking about the glorious pineapple bun, a deceiving name since it does not contain pineapple, but instead earns its title from the pineapple-like crosshatches that develop as the top bakes. Sort of like the craquelin of the asian bread world.
So these are bookies–bun cookies– no, not because I’m pulling a Dominique Ansel, but because they turned out a tad flat, and so bun cookies would be more befitting.
This is my third time making pineapple buns. My first being chronicled right here, (throwback to 2011 Colleen) and my second was never blogged, but it was stuffed with red bean paste and it turned out quite well, despite the lopsidedness:
So this time I played some more with the familiar hokkaido milk bread recipe (which is actually the basis for most if not all the breads you see here), adding more liquid in the form of coconut cream than called for, resulting in this gorgeously stretchy dough, but it really lacked the firmness it needed to be the vessel for the almond frangipane pastry cream.
But look at that dough. It turned out more airy and having a melt-in-your mouth texture, than a chewy bread one. I love love love the experimentation that’s inherent in baking… there’s always the suspense and anticipation of “what’s going to happen?!?!!!?” when you pull it out from the oven.
My life is so exciting, I know.
I also changed the cookie topping by reducing the sugar by over a half, for fear of an overly sweet bun, considering that the frangipane was also sweet, but I found that the crust really needed the full sugar content to be crispy and cookie-like.
I recommend rolling out the crust sandwiched between two layers of parchment paper. Or, the flat side of a meat mallet actually works quite well, and you don’t have to keep rotating your dough to roll the dough into a circle. Just pound away.
To be honest, my original intent was to use up one of my bajillion bags of almond meal from Trader Joe’s, as my pantry is really quite stocked up on that stuff. I was in my macaron phase when I bought them, and since then I realized I didn’t actually enjoy macarons, but just the challenge of making the perfect ones. Seeing those feet. The same story with croissants– I don’t actually like them all that much, but I love the idea of perfecting a technique that can so clearly be seen in one pastry. Like every shattery buttery layer is evidence of the labour and love that went into it.
The almond flavour is incorporated three ways in the filling: the first as almond meal, the second as the almond milk pastry cream, and the third as almond extract. I first made the pastry cream, then my version of frangipane, then mixed them together and let it set in the fridge. The result is an incredibly rich filling, perhaps more rich than I intended, but I tell myself that the unsweetened almond milk is actually almost fat free and that there isn’t actually any added butter in the cream, so that makes it better. And also mysterious.
Now, the recipe is quite lengthy, just because of the multiple components. I recommend making the pastry cream the day before, and making the pineapple crust as the dough rises.
So give this recipe a try (perhaps for mother’s day)? The changes I’ve made in the recipe reflect what I’ve learned, so the dough should be stiff enough to handle the filling, and the sweetness of the crust should be enhanced. Happy baking!
Frangipane stuffed Pineapple Buns
Buns adapted from ladyandpups
- 60 grams of unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp coconut cream (not milk. If you can’t find this, you may also open your can of coconut milk and hope that the solids have been separated from the liquid, and you may just use the solid portion– it’s the same thing, if not better)
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp of cake flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp of custard power (such as Bird’s Custard Powder)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1.5 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp of salt
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour (or bread flour)
- 1 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp of granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup of heavy cream
- 1/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk
- 4 tbsp of coconut cream
- 1 large egg white
- 2 1/2 tbsp (37 grams) of unsalted butter, softened
- sea salt for sprinkling
Coconut Egg Wash
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp of coconut cream
Almond Pastry Cream
- 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 4 large egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/6 cup maple sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 can condensed milk (300mL)
- 227g almond meal (I use Trader Joe’s!)
- 1 tsp almond extract
Almond Pastry Cream (the day before)
- In a small saucepan, heat 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk over medium-high heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, salt, maple sugar, and cornstarch until the colour has lightened to a pale yellow. Wrap a wet towel around the base of the mixing bowl to prevent it sliding around while you do the next step.
- When the almond milk has just started to simmer, pour all of it in a slow, steady stream into the mixing bowl while whisking furiously with your good arm. You can pour faster near the end.
- Return the entire mixture back into the saucepan, turn the heat back on, and whisk, until the mixture has started to bubble and boil. Straining is optional, but necessary in the case when you have lumps of cooked egg.
- Allow to cool.
- In another small saucepan, heat the condensed milk until fluid and almost simmering. Add the almond meal, and stir. You may need to switch from a whisk to a spatula. The mixture should be quite stiff.
- Mix the almond meal mixture into the pastry cream. Add 1 tsp of almond extract. Chill for 2 hours or until firm. Overnight is the easiest.
- To make the roux: in a small saucepan, whisk together the water, flour and salt. Turn on the heat to medium-high, and whisk periodically. The roux should thicken. Take off the heat when it has started to boil for a few seconds; don’t cook it for too long, otherwise there won’t be enough water content in the roux. Allow it to cool.
- In a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, active dry yeast and sugar.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream, and the large egg white.
- Add the cooled roux to the mixer. Add the heavy cream mixture to the mixer. Switch to a dough hook, and knead on low speed until the dough has come together.
- Add the softened unsalted butter 1 tbsp at a time, ensuring the butter has been thoroughly mixed in before adding the next piece.
- Still on speed 2 on a Kitchenaid, or a low speed, knead the dough for 20 minutes. It might seem long, but trust me, there really is a difference in how the dough behaves. It will transform into a smooth, supple ball of dough that pulls away from the side, and starts to make slapping noises.
- Oil a large bowl, and place the dough in it for it to rise. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- While the dough is rising, prepare your pineapple crust. In a mixer, cream the unsalted butter until pale, about three minutes. Add the large egg yolk and coconut cream. Mix until pale and creamy.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, powdered sugar, custard powder, baking soda and baking powder. Add to the mixer, and mix until it just comes together into a dough. Do not overmix!
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.
Shape the buns
- Line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
- Scrape the dough onto a cutting board; I find that flouring the board is not necessary.
- Measure out 10 equal dough balls. I used a scale and each dough ball weighed between 73-75 grams.
- Flatten the dough into a circle, making sure that the edges are thinner than the centre dough. This way, when you pinch it together, it will all be around the same thickness.
- Dollop 2 tbsp of almond pastry cream (straight from the fridge is fine) into the centre, and then pinch the edges together into the centre. Place on the tray, seam side down. Repeat for the remaining buns. Place 5 buns on each tray, allowing ample room.
- Allow to rise for 40 minutes.
Shape the crust
- While the dough is rising, divide the crust dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
- Place it in between 2 layers of parchment paper, and roll it into a circle, about the size of the bun. Keep in the fridge until the dough is ready.
Assemble and bake
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Brush the tops of the buns with the coconut egg wash. Place the circle of crust on top of the buns, and shape it into the sides sides, so that it’s contoured around the top of the bun.
- Brush the tops of the crust with coconut egg wash. Wait 5 minutes, then brush again. Optional but delicious: sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on top.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch carefully! They brown quite quickly.
Enjoy warm and fresh out of the oven!