Archive for the ‘Pies & Tarts’ Category

Mad about Pineapple Tarts

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Pineapple Tarts Closeup

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.

              Pineapple Tarts

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.”

              Pineapple Tarts

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!

Mad about Lemon Meringue Tarts

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Lemon Meringue Tarts

My friend, S, gave me a bottle of her homemade lemon curd a while ago and I managed to do her deliciously tangy lemon curd justice by using it in these 4″ wide lemon meringue tarts.

Lemon Meringue Tarts

I was feeling too tired to bake tart shells from scratch and went with finely crushed digestive biscuits, caster sugar and melted butter for the crust. While it was convenient, I was to discover later that I should have made a proper crust.

               Lemon Meringue Tarts

For the fluffy tuffs of meringue, I used the cooked meringue method, which according to Jamie Oliver’s book, Cook with Jamie, gives a meringue even more stable than italian meringue. I had the most fun with this little project when browning the meringue with my small blow torch, which incidentally has been acting up for some time now. I suspect I’ll be needing a new one soon.

Cut Lemon Meringue Tart

The tangy lemon curd went wonderfully well with the sweet meringue. The crushed biscuit crust, however, turned a little soft after a while out of the refrigerator, probably because I couldn’t press the crumbs together as tightly in the small tart rings. Next time, I’ll definitely be more diligent and make a proper baked crust.

Mad about White Peach Danish

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Poached White Peach Danish

Today is the first free day I’ve had in a long while to try something new. I’d bought some Israeli white peaches a week ago, but found them to be sadly lacking in flavour. I decided to poach them first before they went bad and consider what to do with them later since I was short on time last week.

Having spent way too much time in the kitchen the last few weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to embark on another time-consuming project and decided to make danishes with the poached peaches and store bought puff pastry.

              Poached White Peach Danish

The puff pastry looked pretty enough, but was slightly undercooked on the bottom, even though I’d baked it longer than the duration recommended on the packaging. Still, the peaches were tender and full of cinnamon flavour. I think I’ll try them with some Dreyer’s vanilla ice cream tomorrow!

Poached Peaches

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks (use 1 stick if you prefer a milder cinnamon flavour)
5 cloves
5 pepper corns

Fresh peaches, halved and pitted (there is no need to peel the peaches)

Directions
1. Place the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and pepper corns in a large sauce pan. Make sure that the pan is large enough so that all the peach halves can be immersed in the sugar syrup.
2. Bring the sugar syrup to boil. Reduce the heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Poach the peaches in the simmering sugar syrup for approximately 10 - 15 minutes, until the peaches are tender and translucent.
4. Remove the peaches from the sauce pan with a slotted spoon.
5. Remove the skin from the poached peaches. The skins should slide off very easily.