Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Open Pineapple Tarts II

Alas the 2009 Chinese New Year was over! Really could not imagine how I managed my time last whole month in doing plentiful of housework, cooking, baking, visiting, traveling and gathering. Indeed it was very tiring but I feel so satisfied and happy going through this process each year. This year was a different experience altogether compared to last few years as I welcomed the year through baking of pineapple tarts and cookies which I never did before.

I learnt the hard way on how to store the tarts and cookies. I should have gotten the containers ready at hand. The containers were out of stocks at all hardware shops in the area I live during the last week before cny. The problem is the mood and decision to bake for family and friends always come unplanned and impromptu.

Luckily, there were still plentiful containers sold at one of our local famous baking store, Phoon Huat. The staff was loading the containers when I reached there! This means the containers were selling like hotcakes during festive seasons. So, don't make the same mistake I did, taking things for granted.

Able to make 7 containers of pineapple tarts to be given away. A great achievement for myself as a first timer doing heavy baking of tarts alone in a few days' times. The first few trays of tarts were not turning out so good to my satisfaction as they are far too sour. To my pleasant surprise some of family members and friends prefer a little sour pineapple tarts :)

There are a lot of things to share in making the tarts, I am going to break them done one by one for easy understanding and reading. I researched a few sites and books about pineapple tarts. These are some obvious variations in terms of the different ingredients used, its volumes and techniques for the crust making:

i) Type of Flours
- Plain Flour versus cake flour
The first batch I made using strictly just cake flour. It was really soft in fact too soft to my likings. Worse still when the filling was added onto the crust, it could not take the weight for too long. Though it didn't fall upon (luckily) as days went by, it was just difficult to take one tart out from the container and I was worried to see the tarts kept sinking down! This was partly also contributed by the wet fillings and also the timing of baking. I will talk about this in the later sections.
- At the end, I used just plain flour and the result was just as good!

ii) Icing Sugar versus castor sugar
- For each pineapple recipe I just used 2 tbsp icing sugar. Some recipe will call for slightly more sugar if you prefer a slightly sweeter crust. Whenever I can I always want to reduce the sugar consumption without compromising the overall taste.
- Icing sugar will give a more softer texture as compared to castor sugar.
- This is the ingredient that you can really decide how much you want as it should follow your taste buds more than anything else.

iii) Milk powder
- I added about 4 tablespoon of milk powder to the original recipe to add punch to the flavour. If you prefer more milky flavour you may add more but not too much until it becomes another bakery product like melting moment or cookies as such!
- If you don't like this, you can just omit it totally!

iv) Custard powder
- Came across a few recipes that used a small amount of custard powder. Guess this will add to the powdery-like texture to the crust. Have not tried that and am not sure of the outcome.
- The amount used is very little like 30g custard powder to 600g flour for making 150 tarts.

v)Butter or/and Margarine
- Most of the recipes I found on the net, called for butter instead of margarine.
- Guess the obvious differences will be on the cost and whether you want your tarts to have authentic buttery flavours or not. So the choice is really yours!

vi) Eggs
- Use less egg for melt-in-the-mouth type. Most recipes call for one egg and some use only egg yolk like the one that I based on.

v) Proportion of butter to flour
- There are really a lot of recipes out there calling for different ratio of butter to flour for pineapple tarts. As a new baker I am also not sure which one is the best. My gut feelings say that it falls back again to one simple question that is what type of texture you prefer!
- If you prefer melt-in-the mouth type and very buttery flavour, you may try this ratio 1.3:1 for flour and butter which I used for the recipe and it works well. Too much butter will make your dough too soft, sticky and hard to manage. At the end you need to add more flour while rolling and cutting the dough and the calculation will fall back to the origial suggested ratio.
- If you prefer a slightly still melt-in-the-mouth type but less buttery you may try this ratio 1.8:1
- If you prefer a crunchy hard type, perhaps can try on 2 or more:1 ratio. I saw one recipe saying that it is for melt-in-the mouth type but the amount of flour used is double of the butter and the photo showed didn't convince me either!

Do feedback to me if you have tried the latter two ratio.

vi)Method of mixing the ingredients
- Rubbing-In Method : I enjoyed rubbing in the cold butter into the flour. It gave me a comfortable cooling sensation to my hands, the exact same feeling you will have when you are doing facial mask! It is so relaxing and nice :) Basically you just cut the cold butter into cubes and rub them into the flour with your finger tips not your hand until all become crumbly.
- Creaming method : This is to beat the butter with the sugar until it becomes white and light. Add flour in batches into the batter and finally add the egg slowly until well combined. I have not done this before as I enjoyed the traditional method and I heard the outcome of the tart is the same.

Variations for the pineapple fillings :

i) Fresh Pineapple fillings
- Cut the head and the tail of the pineapple and let it sit with the head up. Cut the skin vertically and once this is done remove the cores diagonally by doing a V-shaped cut to dig out the cores. Check this website ,Expert Village.
- Once the above is done, let it sit vertically again and cut into about 6 pieces and remove the stem.
- Grate it with hand grater or machine. I bought 6 honey pineapples, grated 3 with my bare hands but eventually gave up and use blender to blend the rest. Read in some blogs that it would be better to use a juicer to do this step than blender.
- In medium fire cook the blended pineapple until almost dried. This will take about 1.5hour all in all. I used high fire initially for about half and hour and stirring occasionally. I then reduced the fire to medium and continue to let it simmer until almost dry and add sugar towards the end. - Let it cool off and pop it into the fridge overnight. Scoop them using a teaspoon and roll into balls for later use.
- Two pineapples probably will yield about 25 - 30 balls of pineapple fillings.

ii) Ready-made pineapple fillings
- There are 2 brands available in the market i.e Bake King & RedMan
- I used both before and could not really tell the difference!

iii) Added spices for the fillings
- For nyonya pineapple tarts, you need to add cloves, star of anise and cinnamon to the fillings. Most of the pineapple tarts that we can get on the shelves do not have spices added.
- I personally prefer to add small amount of spices for the fillings to create a light yet fragrant aroma rather than just bland pineapple fillings with sugar... if you really know what i mean :)

iv)Pineapple cane juice
- If you are using ready-made pineapple fillings, adding in the cane juice is very important to reduce the dryness of the filling.
- You may add the spices to the cane juice and let it boil a while to bring out the aroma before adding in the paste.
- The cooking time will be much shorter but will take about half and hour. You need to use very slow fire as the ready-made pineapple fillings are rather too sticky.

v)Lemon Juice
- This is added to cut the sweetness of the fillings.

- If you are using ready-made pineapple fillings, be careful not to add too much sugar as the paste itself and the pineapple cane juice have already sugar content inside.
- For fresh pineapple fillings, adding sufficient sugar is important to make a tasty fillings. I made a mistake in this step by not adding enough sugar and the first batch of the fillings tasted rather sourish :(

1 Crust recipe can yields about 50-60 tarts


360g plain flour (sifted)
2 tbsp of icing sugar
280g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla essense
1 egg yolk lighlty beaten with a few drips of water for glazing


1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C/350 deg F.
2. Rub in the butter into the flour until crumbly.
3. Add in sugar and vanilla essense and continue to knead the dough until well combined.
4. Add in the egg yolk to combine all the ingredients more easily.
5. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and put the fridge for at least 1-hour for easy handling.
6. Take half or 1/3 of the dough out and put the rest back in the fridge. Roll it to about 7mm height. Dip the pineapple tart cutter lightly in the flour to avoid stickiness. Press it onto the flatten dough and cut out the shape.
7. Line the baking tray with baking paper and use scraper to remove each tart to the baking tray.
8. Create indent in the middle of the tart by slightly press in the mould.
9. Put in the oven and bake it for about 10 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and brush the side of the tarts with egg glaze.
11. Pat a little of the rolled pineapple balls and put in the centre of the crust.
12. Fill small amount of the dough in a disposable piping bag, snip at the tip of the bag and start piping any shapes you like on top of the filling for decorations.
11. Put the tarts back into oven for another 10 minutes.
12 . Let it cool off a little while on the baking tray. Use scraper to transfer the tarts and let them cool on the wire racks.

Notes :
1. I had made 5 batches of this recipe to yield 7 containers of tarts to be given away. Each 5" (H) x 3"(D) container is able to store about 36 pieces with 6 layers. Each layer is made up of 6 pieces of open pineapple tarts.

2. I also bought a few 3.5" (H) x 4"D) containers. For this size, you may probably store about 21 pieces with 3 layers. Each layer will have 7 pieces. I am not into sales yet but all these are important learning points for future estimation.

3. I find that the taste and flavour didn't compromise much if you were to mix in an appropriate ratio of fresh pineapples with the ready-made ones. The juices from the fresh pineapples will give a natural moist and balance to the dryness of the commercial filling and therefore you may use little of the pineapple cane juice in this case. My husband loves this version of tarts instead of full fresh pineapple fillings and... me too!

4. Make sure the fillings are cooked dry and moist enough. I have not cooked my fillings to satisfaction :(

5. When putting the fillings on the dented area, try to centralise it and you won't know until you stand up to do this process rather than sitting down.

6. Use a thicker piping bag or featherweight type for piping designs on the fillings, otherwise the normal piping bag will burst easily. Also add a little water to the crust dough for this purpose to thin the consistency. You may brush the designs with egg glaze too before popping them back to the oven for the last 10 mintues.

7. Make the fillings ahead of time!

No comments:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin