We love our pineapple tarts! Now you can make your own with this step-by-step guide – they’ll sure be a hit with your guests.
Makes about 40 medium-sized tarts
2 kg peeled, cored pineapple, cut into chunks
880 g sugar
1½ star anise
3 cassia sticks
420 g fried pastry flour (see Chef’s Tip)
35 g corn starch
20 g icing sugar
5 g fine salt
170 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
85 g very cold lard, cubed
2 egg yolks
45 g egg white
25 g ice-cold milk or water, plus more if necessary
pastry flour and rice flour for shaping
1. PINEAPPLE JAM Finely mince pineapple in a food processor or by hand. Pour into a muslin-lined sieve (in batches if necessary) and squeeze out as much juice as you can. You should end up with around 850 g pineapple pulp and 1.15 kg juice. Set pulp aside.
2. Pour pineapple juice into a wide non-reactive pan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to about ¼ its original volume. Add pulp, sugar and all the spices, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until jam forms a thick, amber-gold, shiny blob. If you have a jam thermometer, it should reach no higher than 112 to 114 C. Scrape jam into a lightly oiled dish. Let cool completely, then transfer to a clean-lidded container and chill for at least 24 hours.
3. PASTRY Sift pastry flour, corn starch and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add salt, butter and lard. With a cake mixer and paddle beater, mix on low speed until fats disperse and mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Whisk egg yolks, egg white and milk together, then mix in on low speed until dough forms a malleable, homogenous ball, neither sticky nor oily. Add a few more drops of milk if needed to help it bind. Wrap or cover dough tightly and chill for 24 hours.
4. Divide jam into 12 g balls and place on an oiled plate.
5. Preheat oven to 160 C in conventional mode (top and bottom heat). Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
6. Let dough warm up at room temperature for 15 mins. Unwrap and sandwich dough between 2 sheets of baking paper, and roll it out to 4 to 5 mm thick. Dust a 5-cm diameter tart cutter with pastry flour, and cut out tart shells; stamp with the outer sleeve, then press down the inner plunger to indent the tart’s central well and push up its rim. Lift up the cutter and gently peel the shell off the cutter (A). Place on the baking sheet, spacing shells 2 cm apart.
7. Gather and re-roll trimmings to cut out more shells. Save about 40 to 50 g dough for decoration purposes. Add 1 to 2 tsps cold water into the dough, and knead to increase its elasticity, so it can form thin strips without breaking off.
8. With serrated pincers, dipped sporadically in rice flour to prevent sticking, pinch lines in the tart shell rims (B). Smooth a jam portion into a gently rounded mound in each tart’s well (C). Roll out decoration dough to about 2 mm thick, cut it into strips with a plain or fluted knife (D), and decorate tarts with a lattice (E), or as you wish (see introduction, opposite page, and photo overleaf).
9. Bake tarts on the lowest oven shelf for 25 to 30 mins, until pastry is light golden. If they still look pale after 22 mins, move tarts to a higher shelf for the last 3 to 8 mins, but do not over-bake or the jam may darken too much.
10. Place sheet on a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 2 hours. Tarts must be cool to the core before being packed in an airtight container for storage, as residual warmth or steam promotes mould growth.
● Use just-ripe pineapples with a tangy, sweet-sour flavour. Sweet cultivars meant more for eating raw make cloying, sticky jam.
* To dry-fry flour with pandan leaves, add 30 to 35 g pandan leaves (cut into 4-cm lengths) to every 200 g flour. Pour into a wide-based pan, stir slowly over low heat with a heat-proof spatula until the flour becomes less clumpy and noticeably lighter, and the pandan has released its perfume. Stop frying when the leaves turn papery dry, before they start to disintegrate. Sift hot flour through a fine sieve into a large bowl and let it cool completely. Store in airtight container.
* If tarts have only come into contact with clean utensils, they can be kept at cool room temperature for at least two weeks, and even longer in the fridge.
● The jam recipe makes enough to fill 3 to 4 batches of pastry. As a half-quantity takes scarcely less effort or time to make, and the jam lasts for months in the fridge, you may as well make a full quantity.
● A day’s rest deepens the pastry’s colour and flavour, making it more intensely buttery and encouraging it to brown beautifully.
● Another popular shape is the rugged cylindrical tart. It is made by pressing out a dough strip, ridged on one side, with a toothed semperit press (E). Jam goes on top of the strip’s smooth side (F). Roll strip around it (G), and trimmed (H).
Time For A ‘Kuehnaissance’
The Way Of Kueh - Savouring & Saving Singapore’s Heritage Desserts (published by Epigram) is written by Christopher Tan, author of the bestselling Nerdbaker. On his latest cookbook, which showcases our favourite Malay, Chinese, Peranakan and Eurasian kuehs, the food writer says, “I dream of a day when homemade kuehs once again take pride of place on our tables, when festivals are heralded once more by flour-dusted hands, small and smooth, large and wrinkled, working together.” The Way of Kueh, at $47.90, is available at www.epigrambooks.sg
PHOTOS COURTESY OF EPIGRAM BOOKS.