Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chinese Bolo Bao with Nai Wong Filling ("Pineapple" Custard Bun)

If you have never had this delicious bun but don't think you can make it yourself, next time you're at a Chinese Dim Sum restaurant or Chinatown Bakery please please please try one!  Sadly I'm not sure if you can get these in Cincinnati...maybe at CAM or Uncle Yip's?

This is Chris' favorite bakery bun and everytime we go to New York he walks to the bakery to buy himself one for breakfast.  He's gotten to the point where the owners recognize him when we went to a restaurant (let's be honest, how many white kids go to the Chinese bakery anyway??).  He even orders the buns in Chinese by himself (I no longer have to go with him) and gets Grandma a newspaper, too.

The only way I can describe this is a sweet custard filled pastry with a sweety crunch topped bun.  The topping is so good that sometimes you could just eat that alone!  Often times when we try to order the bun it's not quite what we expect because sometimes the Bolo Bao ("Pineapple" Bun) is filled and sometimes it is not.  I couldn't quite find what I was looking for in a recipe on the internet so I had to combine two to make this delicious creation.  It was time consuming and I have no idea how the bakeries sell these for less than $1/piece.  It satisfies a craving but in the future, I'll just load up when I'm somewhere that has them because those Chinese chefs can make it better and faster than I can!  If you do decide to make them, maybe double or triple the recipe to make it worth your while :)

Overall I was extremely pleased with the way that this recipe turned out.  It was my first time trying a Chinese bun recipe and I was excited b/c it LOOKED like a bao!  My sister even thought when I brought them over that they came from a bakery.  The recipe as it was originally written was all in, I did the best I could to convert the units to the US System...which was hard!  I also found that the buns were not quite sweet enough and the color wasn't as yellow as the kind you buy so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.  It was nice because the dough could be made in my bread maker while I prepared other parts of the recipe and other items for Mom's Dinner.

By the way, it's called a "Pineapple" bun not because it has pineapple but because the topping looks like the skin of a pineapple.  I've also heard it called a Mexico bun...not because it's at all Mexican but the topping can sometimes look like a sombrero.

This dessert-like bun was part of the birthday dinner that I made for my mom. The other items that I made can be found in separate posts:
Chinese Bolo Bao with Nai Wong Filling ("Pineapple" Custard Bun)
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Yields: 12 buns


  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablspoons milk powder
  • 3 Tablspoons butter
Nai Wong (Custard) Filling
  • 3/8 ounce custard powder*
  • 1 7/8 ounces wheat starch (tungmin flour)*
  • 1/2 cup sweetned condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
*Notes: Used about 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Pudding Mix (NOT instant) and 1/4 cup corn starch

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 g salt (a pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk powder
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Another egg for egg wash
  1. Place the remaining of the dough ingredients in the bread machine according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.  Set to dough and start the machine. It takes about two hours for the dough cycle to complete.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the topping.  Blend the butter and icing sugar together. Butter must be at room temperature. Add in salt, milk powder, vanilla, and food coloring, mix well.  Add beaten egg and mix well.  Mix in flour.  Put mixture in refrigerator if too sticky to handle.
  3. As the dough is rising and the topping is cooling, prepare the filling.  Combine custard powder (or vanilla pudding mix) and wheat starch (or corn starch) in a non-stock pan. Add in sweetened condensed milk, and stir mixture over low heat until mixed-- then add butter. Bring mixture to simmer to thicken while stirring constantly.  It should be like a paste-like consistency.  Remove mixture from stove and allow to cool slightly.  When mixture has cooled, add egg, stirring constantly. Divide dough into 12 portions, shaped into balls, cover with damp cloth, and set aside.
  4. When dough has risen, punch down and separate into 12 pieces.  If dough is too sticky to manipulate, add some more flour.  Using a lightly floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough ball into a circle such that the edges are thinner than the center.  Add custard filling in the middle, and wrap to form a bun.  Pinch centers to seal and place on parchment paper lined baking pan, seam side up.  Repeat for the other buns.
  5. Remove topping from refrigerator and divide into 12 pieces.  Flatten topping dough with hands and gently place on top of bun.  Using a knife, score the topping 3 times vertically then 3 times horizontally.  Repeat for other buns and let dough rise for 40-50 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  7. After final rising, gently re-center topping if needed.  Gently brush egg wash over each bun.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.  Then, reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Allow buns to fully cool before storing in air-tight containers.

Source: Slightly modified Bolo Bao from Chow Times and Nai Wong Filling from Recipezaar


Elise said...

You have a lovely blog. Thanks for the Bolo Bao recipe!

Becky Hsu said...

Thanks for the recipe. One question, the filling instructions call for adding sugar, but it is not listed in the ingredients. How much and what kind of sugar should be added to the filling?

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Hi Becky - Thanks for visiting and also for pointing out this error to me. I went back and looked at the original recipe and there is no added sugar in the filling. The sweetness comes from the condensed milk. I have made changes to the instructions to reflect this. Thank you!

Rosie said...

Dao Modern Asian Cuisine in Deerfield Twp in front of Dick's Sporting Goods has these buns and they are amazingly delicious!!

Michele said...

Actually it's spelled Bo Luo Bao! Yum.

Eva said...

Wonderful recipe as always, Christine! After my last baking fail (Chinese baked custard buns), I was scared to try your bolo bao, but it came out really well! I've linked back to you here: