Don’t let the name fool you, this scrumptious sweet bun has nothing to do with pineapple.  I think the guy who invented it was a marketing genius.  When he developed the recipe, he probably didn’t know what to call this golden crumbly bun.  One day when he was munching on a pineapple, he went, “let’s call it the pineapple bun!  It’s quirky and fun.  The top sort of looks like the skin of a pineapple.  People will probably spend their whole life wondering why I name it that way…etc.” However the story went, this pineapple bun went viral at an era when computers didn’t exist and became one of the most popular and recognizable Chinese pastry in the world.  You can find it in every Chinatown bakery in the world.



My hubby is a hard-core fan of this sweet bun. That’s why I decided to create a homemade version without using lard, ammonia powder, and other artificial additives (yes, they use these ingredients to make it golden and crumbly).  I made it bitesized and filled it with creamy custard.  Let your tastebuds rejoice!


Pairing milk tea with the pineapple bun is like pairing earl grey tea with salted caramel macarons.  Bon Appetit! 

Pineapple Bun with Creamy Custard

Ingredients: Directions:

1 cup whole milk
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon bird’s custard powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Creamy Custard:

(adapted from Corner Cafe)

1. Whisk together whole eggs, egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk, sugar and vanilla. Mix in cornflour and butter.

2. Bring the remaining milk just to the boil in a saucepan. Pour the hot milk in small stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk as you pour (very important). Once incorporated, pour everything back into the saucepan.

3. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and firms up. Remove from heat and whisk in butter if using.

4. Pour the hot custard into a bowl and plunge the bottom of the bowl into another larger bowl of iced-water to cool, give it a whisk occasionally. Once it reaches room temperature, cover the surface of the custard with cling film to prevent a skin layer forming. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pineapple Bun Dough:

3 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons bird’s custard powder
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup water

The Bun:

1. Place wet dough ingredients (including the roux) into mixing bowl. Using a dough hook attachment, start to mix on low-speed. Add the yeast, sugar, milk powder, and custard powder first. Then add the bread flour gradually, a cup at a time, scraping down the insides of the mixing bowl periodically. Increase the speed to low-medium and continue to mix until the shaggy mass becomes a soft and supple ball of dough. If necessary, gradually add a teaspoon of water until the dough sticks together. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Transfer the ball of dough to an oiled bowl to allow it to sit (lightly coat the dough with oil). Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm, draft free place for 30-40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in volume.

2. After the dough has doubled in volume, transfer it to a work surface lightly dusted with bench flour. Give the dough a few light kneadings, then portion dough out into 16 equal pieces.

3. Shape each of the 16 pieces into a round, slightly flat ball. Place them on the large baking sheet, 8 to a sheet, so that they are at least 3″ apart from each other. Cover the buns with a large piece of plastic wrap, then let the buns rise for 30-40 minutes, or long enough for them to have doubled in volume. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Flatten each ball large enough to place a tablespoon full of custard filling in. Stretch the edges and pinch them together to seal the bun. Roll it gently into ball shapes and set aside. (see here)

Water Roux:

1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons bread flour

Water Roux: (to make the bun soft)

(adapted from Thirstyfortea )

1. Place a 1/2 cup of cold water into a small saucepan and add the 2 Tbsp of bread flour. Mix well until the mixture resembles homogenized milk, then turn on the stove top to medium heat. Cook the roux until it thickens up and has the consistency of a thick yogurt, making sure to keep the mixture a pure white color by not overcooking. The mixture should not exceed 150 degrees F. Place the mixture into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making contact with the top surface of the roux (to prevent a skin from forming). You should end up with about 1/3 cup of roux, ready to use when it has cooled back down to room temperature.

Pineapple Topping:

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flor
2 tablespoons bird’s custard powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

The Crumbly Top:

1. In a medium bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together thoroughly. Transfer topping dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, then use the wrap to shape the dough into a log/cylinder, about 3″ in diameter. Unravel the plastic wrap from the dough, then cut it into 16 equal pieces (cut the log in half, then each half in half again until you get 16 pieces). Cover and set aside.

2. Shape each piece of the topping dough into a round-edged 3″ disk. Just use your hands to shape them. When the buns have doubled in puffiness, place one topping dough disk over each bun, carefully placing it so that the bun doesn’t deflate.

Egg wash:

1 egg
1 teaspoon milk

Assemble them:

1. In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the buns (the topping dough) generously with the egg wash. Bake the buns for 22-25 minutes, until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven, then transfer the buns to a cooling rack to sit for a few minutes before serving.

  • Eliese

    I have searched maaaaany grocery stores including a local Asian market. Do you know where I can find the birds custard powder? How much does it typically cost in a grocery store? I can find it on amazon for $6-something….thanks!

    • estalystic (author)

      Thank you for your comment! I live in Chicago and there’s a Korean / international grocery store called H mart. They sell the bird’s custard powder for $5. It depends on where you are located though. But the price on amazon is not bad if shipping is included.

  • Lisa

    This looks fantastic! I’m going to give this a try soon. Thanks for the thorough recipe and step-by-step instructions!

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