The mad rush for baking for the Lunar New Year started last weekend. It was crazy! I sometimes wonder how my parents tolerate my madness. The kitchen was strewn with utensils and baking ingredients. You could hear the KitchenAid AND the hand held mixer going on at top speed…major construction going on! Hahaha.
Two of the results of last weekend’s madness were pineapple tarts. Last year, I made pineapple tarts using store-bought pineapple jam. This year, out of the blue, the urge to make my own pineapple jam hit me. Pineapple jam is made from pineapples, sugar and a stick of cinnamon. Simple ingredients eh? Plenty of work ahead! First of all, you peel the pineapple, taking care to remove all the prickly bits. Not an easy business doing a nice job.
I pretty much ended up mutilating the poor pineapple until not much was left. My dad, watching me from a safe distance, had only this to say: “Wouldn’t it be easier if you just popped over to the store and bought a packet?”. Hmm. Typical of my dad. Famous for his comments of ‘why all the work when you can buy it and it isn’t expensive?”.
Well, dad, it is more satisfying. Yes, there is burnt jam. Yes, there are burn splatters. But hey, this is homemade. I know exactly what went in and I control the hygiene and cleanliness of the process. Besides, homemade is always troublesome. I haven’t found something that is homemade that requires no effort. Hehe. See this gorgeous jam…
I followed Ms Wendy’s instructions for homemade pineapple jam. I love her explanations. Simple and direct, full of useful tips and pointers. I did reduce the sugar for my first batch of pineapple jam. Yes, I made 2 batches. The first batch was made with 4 smaller crystal pineapples which are sweeter than normal local pineapples. These yielded only 1 1/2 jars (500ml capacity). I figured it was not enough for the experiments I had in mind. So I asked my dad to buy me some more pineapples.
He got me 6 medium unripe local pineapples which the fruit seller declared was the best to make pineapple jam. He was right. Pineapple jam is best made with unripe pineapples. More sugar will be added and thus the jam will last longer. I couldn’t find unripe ones for my first batch. Perhaps it was because I was looking for them at Giant supermarket instead of the wet market. 😛
Pineapple Tart 1
The first recipe was spotted from Table for Two or more and the creator of this recipe was the same brilliant person who created one of the recipes I tried last year. The difference was cream cheese was added. Interesting! So I decided to try this.
Ignore the bad egg wash job. The dough was not very sticky and easy to handle. Wrapping a large amount of pineapple filling was a breeze. The pastry cracked a bit during baking. I baked these using fan mode at 170 C and it took me almost half hour to get it brown. Hmm. In addition, instead of using Nestle UHT cream as I did last year, I used heavy whipping cream. Definitely more creamy.
Verdict: All who tried this loved it. The soft melt-in-the-mouth pastry with the sweetish sourish pineapple jam. Good! The cream cheese made the dough easier to handle but the taste is undetectable. Even a cheese hater could not detect it and gave this tart two thumbs up.
Pineapple Tart 2
The next recipe I tried is from Wen’s Delight. In her delightful blog, she mentioned this dough as melty but slightly crispy as well. The key to achieving this is not to handle this dough too much and mixing it till just combined. I followed her instructions and it resulted in a beautiful dough that was a total breeze to handle. However, I needed to use quadruple the amount of dough for every portion of filling. I initially used 1 tsp of dough to 1/2 a generous tsp of filling. It was not enough. I had to increase the dough to 2 tsp.
The final tally was 51 large pineapple balls. I was not able to make more but I do love the amount of dough per ball. I like eating pineapple tarts with ample pastry.
Verdict: Nice soft pastry with a tinge of vanilla smell. It is crispier due to the top flour used and the appearance is a gorgeous golden hue. No wonder it is called golden pineapple ball. My mother loved this one. The rest who tried voted it nice but some preferred the recipe above.
My thoughts? It really depends on which type of pastry you love. I am a greedy sort and I like both. They both have their own uniqueness and are definitely worth the time and effort to make. Homemade pineapple jam makes all the difference too. My colleague who tasted the tart said the jam tasted fresh and different from the pineapple tarts sold by bakeries. I guess most bakeries don’t have the time to make their own pineapple jam. Aside from effort and time, overhead costs in manpower and utilities would escalate too and they would not be able to make a decent profit.
So the other creation from my weekend baking madness? It is in ‘waiting’ period. If all goes well, it will be unveiled later this week. I’m just glad the kitchen and me survived this mad weekend. 🙂