Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Simple Eats – CNY Pineapple Tarts 黄梨酥挞

Chinese New Year 2011 Baking Part 6

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

The last of my Chinese New Year Goodies Baking for 2011 and somewhat a mini finale I guess. Pineapple tarts 黄梨酥挞, is regarded by many as THE quintessential CNY goodie, a must-have amongst many households during the festivities, likening bah kwa 肉干. The last time I made pineapple tarts was about 10 years ago in back to the uni days. I remembered the amusing act of bringing pineapple tarts to campus and distributing them during the first lecture of the day to my closer classmates. They were not fantastic, with slightly chipped tart shells and slightly burnt pineapple jam but my friends loved them nonethless! Very sporty folk! But that experience also made me learn something, maybe pineapple tarts is very very laborious and time-consuming, especially when they have to be prepared in quantities!

So for many years, this CNY goodie is always on the “to-do” list but forever under “KIV” status. Over the last few years, we bought pineapple tarts from a push-cart stall operated by Joyous Pastries located at the then re-vamped Majestic Cinema. That place died down again these 2 years and the stall relocated to the basement shopping arcade of Tanjong Pagar MRT, having their own small shop this time, and becoming neighbours with Yummi Chiffon. I went down to the CBD area to have lunch with J in early January (nice yummy soya chicken noodles at Cross Street!) afterwhich we took the train to Tanjong Pagar to try to make orders for our pineapple tarts this year. Horror of horrors, we were told that orders for CNY pineapple tarts have closed in December 2010! What the hell!!! There goes our chance to get “trust-worthy quality pineapple tarts for this year, we thought!

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

Feeling very inspired by all the fellow bloggers on the online baking community, I finally muster enough courage to make pineapple tarts this year again. But no more cooking the pineapple jam filling myself this time, I told myself. The experience 10 years back was horrific and left an everlasting impression I guess. Cooking the pineapple is sooooooooooo streneuous!!! Almost a back-breaking exercise, having to stand by the stove and constantly stirring, making sure the bottom doesn’t get charred or burnt. All need to be kept at a low flame to make sure it cooks evenly, and the longer it took, the more tired one got and the thinner my patience got worn out! But at the same time, the more tedious the chore became as the jam thickened in consistency and developed increasingly toughened resistance to the spatula! A very steep uphill climb if you ask me!

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

So no pineapple jam filling cooking for me this year but I still need a good recipe for the tart pastry. Googling for one immediately made me arrive at the Ju aka The Little Teochew’s website. I love her writing and more importantly, her sense of humour! So many delectables written in an easy-to-understand fashion and alluring photographs simply imploring you to try ’em out! And try out her pineapple tart base recipe I certainly did! It is a very good recipe, the melt-in-your-mouth crumbly type, just the way I think pineapple tarts should be. But a quick look into the other blogs reaffirmed my choice. Ann from Annco Journal used a somewhat similar recipe, with slight variation to Ju’s. Ann’s blog is another fabulous place where one can spend the whole afternoon reading and marvelling at her very many wonderful creations. One of her most recent makes, koi agar agar simply blew my mind away! They are so immensely beautiful!

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

Anyway, back to the recipe. So my recipe is really a blend of Ju and Ann’s. I know this marriage would definitely amount to something very satisfying.

Here’s a quick comparison of the two recipes:

Anncoo The Little Teochew
Plain Flour 180g 400g
Corn flour 20g 50g
salt ½ tsp ¼ tsp
Butter (unsalted) 150g 280g
Egg yolks beaten 1 3
Cold water 1 tbsp 3 tbsp
Icing sugar 40g 6 tbsp
Vanilla ½ tsp ½ tsp
Glaze none egg yolk + 1 tbsp water
Temperature 175 oC 160 oC
Time 20 min (10+ 10) 20 min

Quite similar yeah? 🙂

Here are Ann’s intructions for the tarts

  • In a large bowl, sift in plain flour, corn flour and icing sugar, mix well. Cut in butter and rub with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Make a well in a center, pour in beaten egg yolk with water and vanilla extract and bind the ingredients to a soft dough. (do not over knead) Add a little extra flour if dough is too soft. Put dough in the fridge for 20-30 mins to firm up.
  • Remove pastry from fridge. Roll pastry between two plastic sheets to about 5mm thickness, cut into shape with a pineapple tart mold and place in a greased lined baking tray and bake for 10 mins at preheated oven 175C.
  • Remove tray from oven, fill the center of tart with pineapple jam. Cut small strips from from remaining dough to form a criss-cross pattern on top of the tarts.
  • Return tarts to oven and bake for another 10 mins or pastry until golden brown.
  • Cool tarts on wire rack and store in an airtight container.

The key to successful dough is really not to work on the dough too much. Overkneading would break down the gluten structure causing the tarts to harden and become like miniature clay frisbees! Ju described in her blog as “coaxing” the wet ingredients to blend with the butter-flour mixture. I found it highly amusing when I read this. But when I made it myself, I found what she’d said isn’t too far from the truth! And I’m thankful that despite feeling highly bemused, I followed her advice earnestly. No “sh*t!

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

Using a fruit baller to work Phoon Huat’s pineapple jam into little dollops with my right hand and rolled them with my left.

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

I followed Ann’s instructions to bake the tart shells for 10 min first before placing the balls of pineapple jam filling. This prevents the jam from browning too much. First batch made when the tarts were glazed before they were sent in for baking. This yield paler tart shells, partially due to the egg yolk used for glazing being more yellow than orange… oh well…

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

The second batch were glazed twice, once before sending the tart shells for baking, and another round after 10 mins of baking before dolloping the balls of pineapple jam filling. This yielded more orangey-golden tarts.

Pineapple Tarts 凤梨酥

Voila! Definitely not as “showpiece-y” like Ann and Ju’s creations but they tastes fantastic nonetheless! Thank you ladies for sharing such wonderful recipes!

4 responses

  1. wow these are such a beauty alan!

    February 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

  2. firebirdie

    thanks Jess! Need more work on the moulding part though. I have clumsy fingers! Just baked another batch this morning for my students and friends. Will post the pictures later!

    February 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

  3. Like all your cny cookies and great photos! Thanks for joining Aspiring Bakers. Happy Rabbit Year! 🙂

    February 2, 2011 at 9:44 pm

  4. firebirdie

    Thanks SSB! happy new year to you too! thanks for coming up with this interesting and meaningful online blogger event. Will definitely support and participate whenever I could.

    February 2, 2011 at 11:54 pm

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