An Authentic Taiwanese Pineapple Cake Recipe | 鳳梨酥

What is a Taiwanese Pineapple Cake?

Visitors to Taiwan will likely have enjoyed pineapple cakes 鳳梨酥, which are widely sold and enjoyed throughout the year. Pineapple cakes are typically square or rectangular, with a jammy pineapple filling encased in a tender short crust pastry. As such, Taiwanese pineapple cakes fall somewhere between a filled cookie or biscuit and a hand pie; not what we commonly think of as cake.

The pineapple filling is sometimes embellished with nuts, sometimes with morsels of salted egg yolk – probably an acquired taste! The pineapple cakes are usually packaged individually and sold in beautiful, sturdy gift boxes for safe transport.

If you have brought back pineapple cakes for friends and family, you have not only given them something delicious to eat but also your wishes for good luck. In Hokkien, a widely spoken Chinese dialect in Taiwan, pineapple has the same pronunciation as “luck arrives” 運來. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the immense popularity of these cakes in Taiwan. The third Chinese word in the name of these treats, 酥, is a generic term for pastries with a high fat content, whether the pastry is flaky or short, baked or deep fried.

Taiwanese pineapple cakes in serving dish, individual ones on plates, and tea and tea pot behind

Making Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes at Home

I became interested in learning to make pineapple cakes after tasting some utterly delicious ones made by a friend. The crust was particularly tender and flavourful. I was also intrigued by how the thin pastry is wrapped around the filling in a perfectly shaped square.

It turns out that the secret ingredient in the pastry is full cream milk powder! As for shaping, I should have guessed – the filled pastry is pressed into a mould. There are many Chinese pastries traditionally shaped by pressing dough balls into carved wooden moulds, some of which can have very elaborate designs. The difference with Taiwanese pineapple cakes is that they are baked inside the metal moulds that are used to shape them.

Some pineapple cake recipes include glutinous rice flour and maltose. I think these two ingredients, which serve to stiffen the filling, crept into recipes from commercial manufacturers who substitute all or part of the pineapple with winter melon, a vegetable in the squash family that is much cheaper than pineapple, and is also softer and less fibrous. Since winter melon has little flavour, artificial flavours and colours are added to the pastries to make them attractive to consumers. If you are tempted to substitute the pineapple with other fruits, you will probably also need to add the stiffening ingredients. Beware, however, that it would eliminate the luck-inducing power of pineapple cakes.

My friend based her recipe on a version by Chinese-language blog, Carol Easy Life. This site includes instructions on how to make homemade moulds from cardboard and aluminium foil, if you don’t have access to suitable metal moulds.

I have adapted the recipe to simplify the jam filling (since we are using fresh pineapple, we don’t need glutinous rice flour or maltose), and to make the pastry in a food processor instead of mixing by hand.

Taiwanese pineapple cakes in serving dish, individual ones on plates, and tea and tea pot behind
5 from 15 votes

Taiwanese Pineapple Cake Recipe | 鳳梨酥

Servings 18 pieces
Author Diana Chen

Ingredients

Pineapple Jam Filling

  • 660 g 660g fresh pineapple, peeled and cored with ‘eyes’ removed
  • 220 g caster sugar
  • 80 g unsalted butter

Pastry

  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 40 g shortening (Trex, Crisco or lard)
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 25 g full-fat powdered milk
  • 230 g pastry flour (such as Italian 00 flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 70 g beaten egg (this is approximately 1 ½ eggs; beat 2 eggs, then weigh and use 70g)

Instructions

Pineapple Jam Filling

  • Peel the pineapple and remove core and ‘eyes’.

    Weighing fresh pineapple to make a pineapple jam filling
  • Cut the pineapple flesh into small dice, about 5mm.

    Chopping fresh pineapple to make a pineapple jam filling
  • Strain for about 10 minutes to remove excess juice.

    Draining the juice from chopped fresh pineapple
  • Place pineapple and sugar in a wide non-stick pan and cook over low medium heat until most of the moisture has evaporated, about 30 minutes, stirring often.

    Cooking pineapple jam
  • Add butter and stir continuously until butter has melted into the pineapple. Keep the heat on to help evaporate moisture from the butter, but do not cook for more than about 5 minutes in order to preserve the taste of the butter. The mixture will appear soft, but it will stiffen when cooled to room temperature.

    Adding butter to the cooking pineapple jam
  • Spread mixture thinly on a large plate to cool completely before using.

    Cooked pineapple jam, spread on a plate to cool

Pastry Dough

  • Dice butter and shortening into approximately 1cm cubes. Freeze for 15 minutes.

  • Add dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and mix.

  • Tip frozen butter and shortening, and the beaten egg into food processor bowl, and pulse until crumbly.

    The pastry ingredients in the processor after blitzing
  • Tip mixture onto a pastry mat and quickly press together with your hands to form a ball. Do not knead, to avoid gluten developing and toughening the baked crust. Press dough into a disc and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

    The pastry turned out onto a surface and gently formed by hand into a ball
  • Note: The dough can also be made by creaming together the fats and the sugar, then adding the egg, and finally combining with the dry ingredients to create a crumble. This can then be pressed together to form a ball, in the same way as the food processor method.

Shaping Cakes

  • Precise weights are important to ensure each pastry fits the mould snugly. Divide pineapple jam filling into portions of 20 grams each, and roll each portion into a ball.

    Cooled pineapple jam, weighed into portions and rolled into balls
  • Divide pastry dough into portions of 25 grams each, and roll each portion into a ball.

    Portioning pastry dough by weight into equal portions
  • Flatten a dough ball. You can do this in your palm or with a small rolling pin, but It is easiest to do this in a tortilla press between two pieces of silicone greaseproof paper.

    Flattening a ball of pastry using a tortilla press
  • Place a portion of filling into the centre of the flattened dough. 

    Placing pineapple jam filling into flattened pastry dough
  • Gently wrap the dough around the filling, pinching away and setting aside excess dough at the top and where the edges meet. Roll the filled dough between your palms to form a smooth ball.

    Forming pastry dough around pineapple jam filling
  • Place the ball into a metal mould.

    Placing rounded pineapple cake into metal mould
  • Gently press down using your fingers or a small pointed spatula, to ease the dough into the corners of the square mould. The dough will not quite reach the top of the mould – the pastry will expand when baked in the oven. Pave over any thin patches and cracks with the excess dough set aside earlier, smoothing the surface with the spatula. Turn the mould over and repeat on the other side.

    Pressing pineapple cake into metal mould, during making of Taiwanese pineapple cakes
  • Place the shaped pastries, all still inside their moulds, on a baking sheet.

    Taiwanese Pineapple cakes in moulds, ready to bake

Baking

  • When all pastries have been shaped, put the baking sheet into the fridge and chill for 15 minutes.

  • While pastries are chilling, heat the oven to 170 C. 

  • Bake the pastries for 8 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn each pastry over.

    Taiwanese Pineapple cakes, just out of the oven, still in moulds
  • Return the pastries to the oven and bake 5-8 more minutes, until the top is slightly golden, checking regularly after 5 minutes. Do not over bake or the filling could expand and crack through the dough surrounding it.

  • Remove the pastries from the oven, lift off the moulds and cool the pastries on a rack. 

    Removing Taiwanese pineapple cakes from the metal moulds
  • One side of the pastry might be more coloured than the other – this is fine, you can turn them all on the same side for a uniform look, or turn them on different sides for contrast.

    Just-baked Taiwanese pineapple cakes on a cooling rack

Serving and Storing

  • The pastries can be enjoyed fresh and warm.

  • However, convention is to leave the pastries overnight in an airtight container, after which the crust will have become more tender.

  • The pastries should keep at room temperature for 3-4 days. Mine are all eaten within this this period so I’m afraid I don’t know what their maximum shelf life would be.

Save this recipe on Pinterest:

Taiwanese pineapple cakes in serving dish, individual ones on plates, and tea and tea pot behind

Guest post by Diana Chan. Images by Kavita Favelle.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
60 Comments to "An Authentic Taiwanese Pineapple Cake Recipe | 鳳梨酥"

  1. Jacqueline Meldrum

    What a wonderful recipe and the step-by-step photos make it seem more doable. I just posted a pineapple cake recipe too. Great minds and all that.

    I hope you and Pete have a wonderful Christmas xx

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Thanks, we felt that step-by-step photos would be helpful for something like this, which is quite unfamiliar. It was pretty straightforward in the end!

    Reply
  2. Mary Twiss Connolly

    This looks amazing and something I would try once I bought those little square molds!

    My favorite line in the article:
    “Beware, however, that it would eliminate the luck-inducing power of pineapple cakes.”

    Happy Christmas!!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Those language lessons are such a part of Chinese dishes, and one of the aspects of Diana’s writing that I particularly love!
    The moulds are great to use, but if you don’t have any, the post we link to shows how to make some yourself. You can use Google Translate to read the instructions.

    Reply
  3. Amy Chung

    Looks absolutely delicious! I am terrible at making anything sweet so I tend to either buy them or I send a link to my baker friends hinting that I’d like a batch. LOL! I am Malaysian and we eat a lot of pineapple tarts, quite similar to these pineapple cakes. They are devine and I can smash a whole box in a very short period of time!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, interestingly, Diana also bought a mould that allowed her to press this same pastry into individual tart cases and used the same filling to make little pineapple jam tarts. I have a friend from Malaysia who hosts a Perananak supperclub here and he has made those for dessert on occasion too. So good!

    Reply
  4. Anjali W

    This recipe for Taiwanese Pineapple Cake looks brilliant. With all those easily available ingredients I would love to try it out in my kitchen too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, it’s all readily available ingredients, so well worth trying. The moulds are unusual but in the post we link to, there’s some tips on making homemade ones if you don’t have the metal set.

    Reply
  5. Daniel

    I was looking to learn how to make something authentic for my girlfriend these holidays and this post gave me a great idea. The Taiwanese pineapple cake looks delicious. I’m so glad I came across this article, thank you 🙂

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    These are a little bit of a labour of love, but actually not difficult at all, and so delicious. They are rich and butter and so good. If she loves pineapple, she’ll hopefully love these!

    Reply
  6. Lisa

    Oh yum, these look totally delicious! I love baking, but have never tried anything like this before. I do love pineapples though, so will be giving it a go. Very interesting about the full milk powder they use too.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Same here, I’d eaten these but not tried making anything like them previously! Was easy learning from Diana!

    Reply
  7. Marcia

    Big fan of pineapples but not of baking. I appreciate how the instructions are very clear. This would make a very special gift to take to a celebration, especially here in Miami, USA where this would not be a common treat!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I imagine you could do similar with a different fruit, but needs to be something that would work nicely with that butteriness.

    Reply
  8. Sinjana Ghosh

    These pineapple cakes look delicious. I love the fact that the number of ingredients are less, however, i haven’t seen such smallmetal containers you used. Will try making it some day

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, not too many ingredients and really good results. The metal moulds are special to these pastries but in the Chinese-language blog post we linked, you can find instructions on making your own instead.

    Reply
  9. Courtney Hopkins

    Wow these look amazing! I don’t think I’ve had one before but would love to try one. Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to try to make them.

    Reply
  10. Natalie

    What a great recipe! I love the step-by-step photos! I tried baking with raw pineapple cake once but it turned out awful haha, I should really try this recipe tho.

    Reply
  11. Cat Lin

    I am a Taiwanese and I have never ever attempted to make pineapple cake at home! Now that I live overseas, I do miss pineapple cakes on occasions. Maybe I should give it a try this holiday season!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Oh you definitely should, they aren’t difficult, even though there’s a few steps, hopefully these step by step instructions will make it straight forward and they are so good!

    Reply
  12. Bhushavali N

    The recipe doesn’t look too difficult! I might only have to replace the eggs with egg-free options but otherwise recipe looks easy to follow.
    I have most of the ingredients except for the square moulds. I guess it wouldn’t harm if I make round cakes instead. Haha!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    It would work fine, and you can also make moulds yourself if you want! ❤️ Let me know how you get on!

    Reply
  13. Choclette

    These look absolutely gorgeous and I think I prefer the idea of a pastry cum biscuit rather than cake. The step by step photos are particularly useful, though I’d need to use different moulds.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, the name is definitely a misnomer as they aren’t really cake as we’d think of it So good!

    Reply
  14. Priya

    Ooooh, so much yum! The Taiwanese pineapple cakes sound and look absolutely delish. Thank you for sharing this authentic recipe with us. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Caro

    What delicious sounding cakes, I’ve never heard of these. I have heard that pineapèple brings luck. Your recipe looks great especially with all the photos to follow.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, pineapple is considered lucky which is perhaps one reason (alongside their deliciousness) for the popularity of these lovely treats!

    Reply
  16. Fiona Maclean

    They look beautiful and sound quite delicious. Way beyond my own cooking skills, but lovely to learn how they are made (and I do like pineapple!)

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Definitely not beyond your skills, they aren’t difficult, but do take time, but it’s quite enjoyable to sit and make them.

    Reply
  17. Tiff

    Hi! Your recipe look awesome! I was wondering what size is your mold and where can I buy them at? Thank you !

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Tiff, these belong to my friend Diana, I’ll ask her to check the size, she had a friend bring them for her from Taiwan.

    Reply
  18. Mayuri Patel

    An interesting version of a cake, pie or cookie. Just simply love how cute they look. Making them from fresh pineapple jam must have made them so so delicious.

    Reply
  19. margaret

    Hi. I noticed that the flour you used is pastry flour, if not available is there any substitute.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Margaret, pastry flour is simply wheat flour that is low in gluten and protein. If you can find Italian flour tagged as 00, that’s perfect. But basically, any plain / all-purpose flour is fine. Avoid bread flour which has high gluten levels, great for bread but not for crumbly pastry.

    Reply
  20. Thu Nguyen

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. My husband used to work for HTC phone so he traveled to Taipei monthly. He always brought back chia te pineapple cake. Rather pricy (even more if bought in US) but they are so good. He no longer travels there and I’m so glad I came across this website. I will try making this..seems labor intensive but your detailed step by step photos are very helpful.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    My pleasure and I’d love to hear how you get on, please send photos if you are willing! 💜

    Reply
  21. Jazz

    It looks so yummy! I have wanted to bake these but I don’t know where to buy the square molds. Where did you buy yours? Do you have a suggestion? I’m from the Philippines. Thank you so much 🙂

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Jazz, my friend had her friend bring them from Taiwan. But there’s a link in the post to making your own lives with cardboard and foil if needed! 👍

    Reply
  22. Lucy

    I have always wanting to make these tarts but do not have the recipe. thanks for sharing

    Reply

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