If you have read my posts here and here, you will know that I was on the quest to find a buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth Pineapple Tart pastry. I scoured the Internet for recipes based on your wonderful recommendations, took what I liked, omitted what I didn't, and concocted a recipe that worked for me.
I love butter. God knows how much. I wanted my pineapple tarts to have a distinct, unadulterated flavour of butter. I didn't want any other ingredients like cream, milk powder, margarine or cream cheese to distract me from real butter. Many recipes use these additional ingredients to achieve a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Don't get me wrong, they DO work. I have tried them myself. But. I wanted only butter.
Brands like Golden Churn, SCS and Lurpak came highly recommended, in that order. I chose SCS because it had an unsalted version which I couldn't find in Golden Churn. I still prefer using unsalted butter for baking. As for Lurpak, I agree it is a good brand of butter, but but but ... SCS was on offer! 'Nuff said.
Next, the recipes which spoke to me. I liked what I saw at Delicious Asian Food. The moment I read the first sentence, "My mother-in-law bakes awesomely delicious pineapple tarts ..." I was sold. I am terribly partial to any recipe that has been handed down from someone's mother-in-law, mother, aunt or grandmother. Besides, the recipe was extremely basic - flour, butter, eggs, sugar and water. Exactly what I was looking for.
Another recipe which caught my eye was from Do What I Like, for the simple reason that it called for 1/2 tsp of brandy (or pure vanilla extract). Why didn't I think of it?! Brandy always enhances the taste of baked goods.
Now, if you have made shortbread pastry, you will know that the handling of the dough is key. Overworking the dough will ruin everything, even if you have the best recipe. So remember, work the dough gently, and you can achieve a wonderful buttery, flaky texture with the most basic of ingredients.
Recipe for Pastry
(adapted mainly from Delicious Asian Food)
- 400g plain flour*
- 50g corn flour
- 1/4 (heaped) tsp salt
- 280g cold, unsalted butter (do not allow it to soften)
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 3 tbsp cold water (or iced water)
- 6 tbsp icing sugar**
- 1/2 tsp cognac or pure vanilla extract
- For glaze, mix 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water
* Note that the original recipe called for 450g plain flour. I changed it to 400g plain flour + 50g corn flour to make the dough more "melty".
** The recipe called for 4 tsp castor sugar. I used 6 tbsp icing sugar in its stead. I read somewhere that icing sugar helps soft pastry dough keep their shape during baking.
1. Sift the flours, icing sugar and salt. Mix well to combine.
2. Using the pointed ends of a fork, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine bread crumbs. If necessary, use fingertips to continue rubbing lightly the bigger pieces into finer pieces. Basically, just scrape / flake the butter with your forks. You essentially want to coat the butter crumbs in flour. Using forks prevents the cold butter from melting since there is no contact with heat. If you want to rub the butter into the flour using your hands, make sure you use only your fingertips.
3. Beat together egg yolks, cold water and cognac (or vanilla extract). Add it into the butter-flour mixture. Using your finger tips, gently coax all the crumbs into one large dough ball. Do not knead. As long as all the crumbs come together, stop. Chill in the fridge for about 10mins, covered.
4. Roll out to desired thickness (mine was about 8mm thick). Cut out dough using cutter. Arrange neatly onto baking tray, with at least 1.5cm apart. Since this is a very buttery, oily pastry, it would be good to use a small portion at a time. Keep the rest covered in the fridge, otherwise it will ooze oil.
5. Once you have arranged the tart shells on your tray, glaze them (the entire surface, not just the rims).
6. Place the pre-rolled pineapple jam balls onto the centre of each tart shell.
7. Bake at 160°C for 20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking. According to the original recipe, when placing jam onto the pastry, take caution not to smear jam onto the sides as this will easily “burn” and render the sides of the pastry (the flowery design) darker. I did not have a problem with this because I used a very sticky, dry jam.
More notes from The Little Teochew:
~ This recipe yields about 96 tarts.
~ I tried baking 2 batches - one using cognac, the other using pure vanilla extract. They were both equally aromatic. So, no real need to use cognac. But do use a good quality vanilla extract.
~ I decided to be hardworking and glazed all the tarts. The egg wash helped make the pastry "studier" during baking. This pastry has a tendency to puff and expand a little. Also, glazing makes the colour a little more golden, a little more festive. ;)
~ Always pre-roll your pineapple jam before making the pastry. I like to pre-roll the day before.
~ Chill your pastry. It's much easier to work with it. I chill my pastry dough, always. The only time it didn't do a thing for me was the Kue Nastar episode. Maybe it was the addition of margarine.
~ If you are not averse to lard, you can try adding some lard oil. Lard always gives that additional oomph to pastries. Someone left a comment to say that the best Pineapple Tarts he/she has ever eaten was made using lard. I have heard this many times and I believe this 100%.
~ I mentioned in previous posts that I buy ready-made pineapple jam. For my readers in Singapore, buy the one from Red Man. It costs $4.60 at Phoon Huat, as compared to the generic house brands which cost $3.40. The difference is that for Red Man, only ripe pineapples are used. The cheaper brands mix both ripe and unripe ones together. Hence the difference in price. I got this bit of information when I queried the staff. A friend told me that she got her jam from Ailin Bakery House. Apparently, they use Sarawak pineapples.
~ As to the question a few people asked: "What happened to all the tarts that were made as experiments? Where did they go?" Well, some of them were eaten by us (mostly my kids). The others, I packed and gave them to close friends and neighbours, who I know wouldn't mind eating my cast-offs. LOL.
I hope you like this recipe. If it works for you, I'm happy. If it doesn't, there are tons of other recipes out there. You're bound to find something you'll like! :)