This popular Asian sweet bun has a crisp biscuit (cookie) crust. Chinese refers to the crust as resembling the skin of pineapple, while Japanese refers to the crust as resembling the net-like pattern on the skin of melon. So the Chinese name for this bun is ‘Pineapple Bun’ (菠蘿包 pronounced as “polo pau” phonetically), while the Japanese calls it ‘Melon Bun’ (メロンパン Melon Pan). This is quite confusing and misleading as neither the Chinese version nor the Japanese version has any fruit in it. The Japanese however does occasionally add a little melon essence to the crust for the aroma. Therefore in trying to translate the name of this bun into English, I decide not to do a direct translation to add to the confusion, but to name it ‘Turtleshell Bun‘ instead as the crust of the bun, and its shape, does resemble the shell of the turtle. Hey, maybe the name will catch on in the future?
A shy turtle?
There are a few different versions of the recipe for the crust too. The Cantonese version has baking ammonia added to create the cracking pattern on the crust. Taiwanese version does not have baking ammonia added, but uses a knife to create a criss-cross pattern on the crust before baking, as does the Japanese version. As I have had problem buying baking ammonia here, I am using the Taiwanese version of the recipe for the crust, and in keeping at least to the name of pineapple bun, I added a little pineapple essence to it for aroma. I also added a little cheese as filling, even though usually this bun has no filling, or has just a little knob of butter as filling only.
Makes 8 buns
1/2 portion Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough
2 slices processed cheese
Biscuit (Cookie) Crust:
30g butter, softened
30g icing sugar mixture
60g cake flour
2 teaspoons milk powder
12g (about 1/4) egg
1/4 teaspoon pineapple essence (optional)
1. To prepare the Cheese Filling: Cut each slice of the cheese into quarters. Then fold each quarter twice to form into a rough cube. Set aside.
2. To prepare the Biscuit (Cookie) Crust: Cream softened butter and icing mixture, then add in the rest of the ingredients. Divide into 8 equal portions. Cover and set aside.
3. Prepare the Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough as directed in Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough post up to step 3.
4. Take a piece of biscuit (cookie) crust dough and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle; with edges thinner than the centre (pic #1). Place the rolled out crust dough in one of your hand and place a bun dough ball on top (pic #2). Hold the dough in your right palm (or cup with your right hand) so the crust dough adheres to the lower half of the dough ball (pic #3). With the thumb of your left hand, start pressing and pushing down the centre of the dough ball, at the same time your right palm is turning and pressing upward the crust dough. When the crust dough has enclosed about 2/3 of the dough ball, place a cheese filling in the centre and press it down (pic #4), then continue to press and turn the dough to enclose the filling (pic #5). Pinch and seal the edges of the dough to seal in the filling (pic #6). Place sealed edges down on a lined or lightly greased baking tray. Repeat making the rest of the buns.
5. Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size. When ready, use a small knife to make criss-cross patterns on the crust of each risen dough pieces.
6. Bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Taste: Soft, fluffy and light buns with a crispy biscuit-like crust
Consume: Best served warm for the crispy crust
Storage: Can be kept for up to 2 to 3 days in airtight container at room temperature or up to 1 week in the refrigerator, re-heat in the oven to re-crisp the crust before serving
Recipe References: Biscuit (Cookie) Crust recipe adapted from various Taiwanese recipes