I must confess, I’m not exactly crazy about pineapple tarts. Yes, completely inconceivable, I know, given that these tarts are a staple in every household here in Singapore come Chinese New Year. But I have two perfectly valid reasons; my family makes them EVERY year and the process is extremely laborious, especially if one makes the pineapple jam from scratch.
In the past few years, my dad has taken over the time-consuming process that is pineapple jam making. I think it could be because:
a) He actually enjoys the process because I cannot imagine why anyone would otherwise take on a task which consists of grating 8 - 10 ripe honey pineapples by hand and then standing in front of a hot stove, constantly stirring a pot of juicy grated pineapples for 3 - 4 hours until almost all the juice has cooked away and the jam has caramelized to a lovely golden colour.
b) He wants to make sure that his favourite pineapple tarts are on the Chinese New Year baking schedule. There’s no denying the persuasive power of the following argument: “But I’ve already spent hours slaving over the stove making the jam.”
My mum prefers open-faced tarts to rolled balls of pastry with pineapple filling, so the next steps are making, kneading, rolling and cutting the tart dough. The small tarts are then brushed with egg yolk, filled with pineapple jam and finally topped with strips of pastry, which are then also brushed with egg yolk. It may sound easy, but I’m usually pretty tired by the time we get to the 4th tray of tarts.
Every year, after the last tray of tarts comes out of the oven, I tell myself that I won’t make pineapple tarts next year. But deep down, I know that we’d still end up doing it because my brother, who’s a really picky-eater and who’d travel miles for good food, tells us that he’s yet to taste any pineapple tarts that are as good as these.
Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year!