Pineapple Tarts

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Good pineapple tarts start with good pineapple jam. Where does good pineapple jam start? Readymade, in a plastic bag? Common sense tells you that jam stored without refrigeration for god knows how long, in a plastic bag which can't be sterilized and isn't vacuum sealed, must be stuffed full of preservatives. And yet, the ingredients listed don't include preservatives. I wouldn't eat that kind of jam even if you paid me.

There's no reason why readymade pineapple jam can't be good, in theory. In practice, however, all those I've seen are of extremely dubious quality.

Making good pineapple jam is quite straightforward. It's basically mashed pineapple cooked with sugar till thick, and flavoured with star anise, cinnamon and sometimes cloves.

Some people drain the juice from the pineapple and make jam without the juice. That's just crazy. It's so stupid I shan't explain why it's stupid. If you can't figure out why it's stupid, you should stick to the simple stuff, like boiling water.

Some people throw away the woody core of the pineapple. That's not necessary because the core contains pulp, without which there'd no jam. But you must process it till it's totally smooth. Unlike the juicy part, it doesn't break down when heated so it must be very finely ground.

What type of pineapple should you use? Not the fancy, expensive ones that are extra juicy and extra sweet. You want cheap and cheerful pineapples that are fibrous, pulpy and rather sour. In fact, the pineapples should be no more than half-ripe so that the acidity can balance the sugar added to the jam.

A wok is essential for making pineapple jam, because it allows the juice to evaporate quickly. Combined with the maximum heat possible on the stove, the cooking takes about 45 minutes. That's not too bad, is it? And you have to stir constantly only during the last 10 minutes or so, after the pineapple turns light brown. Really not too bad at all, I'd say.

The jam filling for pineapple tarts should be stiff but not too stiff or it'd too hard, too chewy, and too sticky. With closed tarts, what you see when the jam is cool is
pretty much what you'll get after baking. With open tarts, OTOH, the exposed filling dries up in the oven. It might be just right after it's baked, or maybe not. That's why open tarts are more difficult to make than closed ones.

The pastry recipe I'm sharing makes a very tender, melt-in-the mouth crust. The butter is not rubbed in, not creamed, not melted, but boiled. Flour is tipped into boiling butter, then mixed thoroughly. This makes a dough that has no gluten at all because the protein in the flour is totally coated with fat, not water. Without gluten, the baked pastry is melt-in-the-mouth tender even without eggs. And it's very buttery because there're  no eggs to mask the taste of the butter.

Enough talk; time for action. Here's how I make fruity, preservative-free, not-too-sweet pineapple jam wrapped in buttery, melt-in-the-mouth pastry:



PINEAPPLE TARTS (黄梨挞)
((Recipe for about 90 pieces)
Filling (makes about 850 g)
2 pineapples, about 1.2 kg each, underripe, rather sour, fibrous, pulpy, not too juicy
peel and remove eyes to yield about 1.3 kg in total; rinse and drain thoroughly; chop and blend woody cores till totally smooth, and juicy part till roughly minced
1 star anise
5 cm cinnamon stick, split lengthwise
500 g sugar
Pastry (source: David Lebovitz)
360 g unsalted butter
60 ml vegetable oil
75 ml water
60 g sugar
½ tsp salt
600 g plain flour

1 egg yolk, beaten
90 cloves, or thereabouts

To make filling, put all ingredients in a non-reactive wok. Cook over maximum heat till almost dry, 10-15 minutes. Add sugar and stir till melted. Continue cooking, stirring from time to time, till light brown and starting to thicken, about 20 minutes. Lower heat from maximum to high. Cook till medium brown and just thick enough to hold its shape, another 10 minutes or so, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Turn off heat. Refrigerate 1 tbsp filling till slightly cool to touch. Press to check consistency. If too soft, cook another few more minutes. If too hard or too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp water and mix evenly.

When filling is cool, roll into little balls weighing 9-10 g each. Leave in freezer till firm, 30 minutes or longer.

To make pastry, put all ingredients except flour in a pot. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Continue boiling till foam subsides and colour darkens. Alternatively, weigh pot and contents before heating, then boil till weight is reduced by about 65 g.

Turn off heat. Tip flour into pot. Mix thoroughly and leave till just cool enough to handle. Knead to make sure mixing is even, adjusting with 1-2 tbsp water if mixture is crumbly, or 1-2 tsp plain flour if sticky. Divide into little balls weighing 11-12 g each.

To assemble, remove pineapple balls from freezer in batches so that they stay firm and easy to handle. Flatten ball of dough with palm. Place filling in middle of dough. Seal and roll as shown in video.

To bake, preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Place tarts on baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush thoroughly with egg yolk. Garnish with cloves. Bake till golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Don't overbake or filling would be hard and too chewy. Remove tray from oven. Wait till tarts are firm enough to handle, 5-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack. When cool, store in airtight containers. Refrigerate if keeping for more than a few days. Serve at room temperature, discarding cloves before eating. Tarts are best when filling and pastry have had a few hours to firm up after baking.

63 comments:

Peb said...

Hihi, I am wondering why the need to boil the ingredient for the pastry?

KT said...

To minimize gluten forming in the pastry.

Sweetpea said...

Hi any idea if I can prepare the tarts with filling and refrigerate till I want to bake it?

Peb said...

hmmm meaning better 口感? So that when the pastry is in the mouth it doesn't have the niam niam feeling? Haha I guess I just try it to know it. Thanks so much for the step by step!

ESYAN said...

Hi I'm thinking of making pineapple tarts for my family, how long will these keep and what is the best way for me to store them?

ESYAN said...

Hi I'm thinking of making pineapple tarts for my family, how long will these keep and what is the best way for me to store them?

KT said...

Yes, you can. Freezing works too.

KT said...

Assemble and garnish with cloves. Place tarts slightly apart on a tray. Freeze till firm. Put tarts in a plastic bag and seal tightly. Keep frozen, for up to several months. Apply eggwash just before baking. May be baked either frozen or thawed.

Jeannie Tay said...

Hi Kt, I hopped into your blog from Phong Hong's blog....a great blog with lots of delicious recipes! These tarts are my fav CNY must have!

Peb said...

burnt the butter but managed to salvage without ruining the whole thing! the crust is better than i expected! thanks ...

Richard Ingate said...

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this. I am going to try it and if successful will write up an account in my own blog (recently started) and offer the results to my Chinese students of English when it gets to New Year. This really is an excfellent blog!

Cookie said...

Hi KT, thanks for sharing this... really a convenient alternative to rub-in or creaming method. Just wondering if this dough is suitable for cutout?

KT said...

Never tried but probably not. The pastry is very delicate and crumbly – that's why it's melt-in-the-mouth – so it doesn't hold its shape well. The patterns made by the mould won't be distinct after baking, and it might be difficult to handle the baked tarts without damaging the edges. For open tarts, I would make a dough with a stronger structure, such as the one I use for Hong Kong egg tarts, which you find here: http://kitchentigress.blogspot.sg/2012/10/hong-kong-egg-tarts-video.html.

KT said...

Wow, lucky students!

Min said...

Hi! I just made some pineapple tarts using your recipe! It turned out fine! :) The pastry is very crispy. When I eat it, the crusts will fall. Overall, I think it's nice! However, my pineapple tarts were very big.

KT said...

If you eat the tarts fresh from the oven, you do get crumbs all over. The pastry needs at least a few hours to firm up. As for the size, the tarts should be about 3 cm wide if you follow the recipe.



Glad you think the tarts are nice. Thanks for your feedback.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

The reason why ready-made pineapple jam doesn't have preservatives listed: in theory, the sugar content will be high enough to "preserve" it and prevent bacterial growth. This is also why regular ready-made fruit jams don't need preservative either. Sorry, had to comment * geeky food scientist* :P

KT said...

Jam may be stored without refrigeration only if it has a high sugar content, it is acidic, and the container it is stored in is sterilized and vacuum sealed. Once the seal is broken, the jam spoils quickly unless it's refrigerated.

I'm guessing you're not really a scientist, food or otherwise.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

Actually, there is a concept in food science called "water activity". When there is a high sugar content there is ALWAYS less "available water" for bacterial growth, as it becomes "bound". Also, sugar by definition is acidic. I'm not saying you never need to refrigerate jam and it will last forever and ever in open air- I was just trying to give you some insight for why some bought pineapple jam may shelf stable.


Look it up. I AM a scientist and didn't mean to offend you, which I seem to have inadvertently done based on the tone of your reply. :(

KT said...

Sugar slows down bacterial growth because it replaces water. Are sealed plastic bags airtight? If they're not, air gets in. Air has moisture, especially in the tropics. Is the brix of jam stored in a plastic bag stable?

Sugar is acidic but what's its pH? Is it low enough to keep food items shelf stable? Yeasts and moulds feed on (moist) sugar, don't they?

If jam in plastic bags can be shelf stable without refrigeration or artificial preservatives, why do the likes Smuckers sell jam only in sterilized and vacuum sealed bottles?

No offense taken; I hope none on your part too.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

Sealed plastic bags may or may not be airtight depending on factors such as the variety/thickness of plastic used and the processing method of combining the bag and product. Assuming the bag is airtight, of course the Brix in jam should be stable, otherwise it may change due to moisture, as you say.



I admit I am unsure of the pH of the sugar in jam. This would vary among manufacturers and depend on the concentration of sugar in comparison to other ingredients; the other ingredients themselves and how they have been processed (e.g. pineapple also provides the acidity to decrease the pH). Yes, yeasts and molds do feed on sugar but they also need the "available" water to survive, and if sugar concentration is high enough (again, unknown for the particular pineapple jam in question, this is a generalisation for jams) the bacterial growth would at least be partially inhibited by this. It is solely this point I was emphasising in my original post, I did not mean to imply that there are no other factors which could cause spoilage.


I am not familiar with Smuckers but I assume there are many reasons why they favour bottles/jars, including the general benefits of packaging in glass(is it glass?) bottles- strong, "classier/ more expensive" brand image to consumers, low air and moisture permeability, better transportability (plastic is flexible and can be punctured easily). And of course cost, as I assume (I could of course be wrong) that the pineapple jam you are referring to is not exported to an international market like Smuckers, and has a lower budget(?)


Again, I am by no means saying sugar in all jam is definitely preservative in itself, I was merely giving ONE possible reason why you may have found the pineapple jam in it's particular storage condition. I'm glad there is no offence taken on your part, I did not mean to come off as such. :)

Foodscientistwannabe said...

Oh food scientist, a more elaborate explanation on why boiling butter and water with flour will form "no gluten at all" is needed. Wouldn't the water in the butter as well as the additional water you add "react" (don't have the right vocabulary to describe the interaction) with the flour to form gluten; why would boiling the butter-water mixture be different from the creaming/rubbing in method where the flour participles are coated by fats?

Foodscientistwannabe said...

Aside from the reasons listed below, I'd imagine that scooping and re-sealing jam is a lot more convenient when said jam is in a bottle rather than a plastic bag. The nature of the packaging might simply be the result of the way the jam is used.

kt said...

When the fat in butter is in a solid state, it's less absorbable than water. Flour therefore absorbs water easily when it's combined with butter with the rubbing or creaming method. Gluten is formed as a result.

When the fat is boiling, it's just as absorbable as water, and so are oil and melted sugar. The little bit of water there is in the boiling mixture – there isn't much because most of it would have evaporated – is overwhelmed by the other ingredients. Hence, not much water is absorbed. Hence, not much gluten is formed.

kt said...

Are you asking me or Ee Laine Yeoh?

kt said...

Ee Laine, Foodscientistwannabe

There is no need for any "might", "assume", or "if". There have been people making jams for hundreds of years. That's not very long compared to wheels but it's long enough. As Ee Laine said, look it up.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

Not too sure about "no gluten at all", as if this was the case then gluten-free food could be made with all types of flour (when in reality it excludes wheat flour and related species such as rye, due to the presence of gluten). I have personally never heard of flour proteins+fat=no gluten (not trying to insinuate KT is wrong, ok!), but I do know the gluten in pastry-type products is less developed (hence the flakiness or "short" texture) compared to bread products (where the dough is extensively kneaded to create more chewiness from gluten development). Sorry this probably wasn't that helpful, foodscientistwannabe!

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

On this point, KT, I think we reach the same conclusion haha

kt said...

Gluten is the substance formed when two proteins – glutenin and gliadin – bond to form a tightly-knit molecular network with the help of water, kneading and sometimes yeast. Gluten makes pastry tough; glutenin and gliadin don't.

When someone says he is gluten intolerant, what he means is he can't tolerate gliadin and/or glutenin. To the extent that gluten can't be formed without the two proteins, he's not wrong. Laymen can be quite imprecise sometimes. That's something which scientists probably don't understand.

kt said...

What I meant was look it up before commenting.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

Are you referring to me or Foodscientistwannabe (or both) with that comment? Because...I did look it up. I use the words "assume", "may or may not be" etc because of a) wanting to be diplomatic and not like "I'm right/you're wrong", and b) as all scientists know, nothing in nature is 100%. Therefore I gave POSSIBLE answers but they are not definitively the be all and end all of the jam issue. Also c) I'm not familiar with the pineapple jam in question (having never seen it in person nor is there a photo you've posted) so I didn't want to be specific for something I've never seen.

kt said...

Gluten is the substance formed when two proteins – glutenin and gliadin – bond to form a tightly-knit molecular network with the help of water, kneading and sometimes yeast. Gluten makes pastry tough; glutenin and gliadin don't.

When someone says he is gluten intolerant, what he means is he can't tolerate gliadin and/or glutenin. To the extent that gluten can't be formed without the two proteins, he's not wrong. Laymen can be quite imprecise sometimes, unlike great scientists like you.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

I like how you've switched from "you're not really a scientist, food or otherwise" to "great scientists like you". My work is done.

nleow said...

Hi there. Thanks for the recipe! I made these yesterday however, wanted to ask you. My pastry turned out extremely crumbly - so much so, that is almost impossible to get the pineapple filling inside without the pastry breaking into a thousand pieces. Any ideas on where I have gone wrong?

kt said...

Your dough is too dry because you've overcooked it. That tends to happen if judge by eye rather than weight. If you still have your
dough, steam it till it's soft, then do as the recipe says: knead to make sure mixing is even, adjusting
with 1-2 tbsp water if mixture is crumbly.

kt said...

I hope, for her sake, she's just reciprocating my sarcasm. Otherwise, the closest she comes to being a scientist is washing test tubes.

A scientist should speak with authority or not speak at all. To insinuate, based on half-baked knowledge and what's she's not heard of, and then to say she's not insinuating, isn't the "work" of a scientist.

Ee Laine Yeoh said...

Oh good, you can tell my sarcasm. I don't know about the whole "speak with authority" thing when it comes to your blog, to be honest. My first comment was with authority and maybe you took insult with the fact that there was someone who wasn't asking a question or paying you a compliment, as you were quite short with your answer. So I thought I'd tread lightly with my choice of words in my subsequent comments (i.e. "assuming", "may or may not be" etc) but it only seems to rile you further that there's actually other people who know something of food..


And really, are you insinuating then that you are some high and mighty knowledge on food, seeing as you "speak with authority"? Are you a scientist too, or something?


^otherwise, the closest YOU come to being a scientist is running a food blog where the mention of real science is cause for offence.

kt said...

*fall off chair laughing*

If your waffly piffle is real science, then I must be Einstein reborn.

FYI,
my highest qualification in science is "O" level, and I've forgotten 99.999% of what I learnt. Why do you think I come anywhere close to
being a scientist? Because I know what gliadin is? My god, you really
are hopeless. Did I hit a raw nerve when I said you wash test tubes?



I presume you're done with your earth-shaking scientific exposé on gluten. You are now the one and only reader banned from making comments on my blog. Good bye.

teochiu girl said...

Here's how my pineapple tarts turned. I even got my cousin to make them in Canada. She loved them.

arkzy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Finally, I can make delicious pineapple tarts. I had used the recipe twice recently. For Australian weather, the dough was to dry, so it was very crumbly. What I did was, I wet my hands when assembling the tarts. It worked well although they look a bit bumpy. The second one, I was running out of all purpose flour. What I had in hand at the time was cake flour (low protein). It worked perfectly since cake flour absorbs more water. My tarts were smooth and beautiful. Next time, I will use cake flour instead. Thanks again! I will try your other recipe.

kt said...

Congratulations! If you use all-purpose flour again and it's crumbly, you have to add some water as per the recipe.

Eileen Clye said...

hi its a great & easy recipe.
Would like to know if i can substitute the water with milk? As i find my crust more cookie-like and i would like to have the crust a bit more moist.

Thanks!

Eileen Clye said...

oh & also its a little tricky brushing the egg yolk ... it keeps 'sticking' onto the crust causing little bumps... :S

kt said...

You probably had too much yolk on the brush. The glaze should be thin and even, without bumps.

kt said...

Feel free to change the recipe to your preference.

Lisa Tan said...

Can I use maltose to substitute with castor sugar?

kt said...

Of course you can.

Eileen Clye said...

Thanks ! By the way, if I want to use this recepie for open tart, is there anything I should look out ?

Yvonne said...

Hi, just wondering, why you didn't mix egg in your pastry? Because all other pineapple tart recipes that I have seen has egg in the pastry. Is egg-free recipe supposed to make the tarts nicer??

LHB said...

Thank you for posting a very detailed recipe here. Your kindness and thoughtfulness are very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hello there :D
I love love love your recipes!! (tried the kueh bangkit and pineapple tarts) Anyway I am wondering if I can make the pineapple filling for the pineapple tarts ahead of time (maybe a few days to a week before I use it). If so, how do I store it? Please reply, it will help a lot :) THANK YOU!!

LawrenceT said...

Love your melt-in-the mouth tart recipe! They're so GOOD!

jess said...

Hi excuse me but can i use canned pineapples instead of fresh pineapples? if so do i use the same quantity?

Wild Mixed said...

hi KT FAN <3, I have tried cooking the pineapple filling and allow it to cool, roll them into the desire size/weight and freeze them. (Place in air-tight container). I kept it for 3-4 days before having time to make the pastry and roll in the fillings! It works well for me. Hope it helps.

Wild Mixed said...

Thank you KT for the beautiful recipe!! Living overseas I was not able to buy perfect pineapple tart to celebrate CNY! But this year it has make a big differences!! Thank you so much for sharing and bringing back my childhood memories!!! xoxo

Chui Lan said...

Hi KT, this CNY, I used a few of your recipes and I must say, the pineapple tarts were awesome! We made a total of 4 patches and they were simply delicious. My most disappointing attempts were the kueh bangkit. I have tried at least 3 times and they are not as melt-in-the-mouth as what we would have liked. Your cashew nut cookies are also a great hit! Thank you!!!

Chui Lan said...

Yes, I agree. It was a little difficult to brush the yolk on. I added a teaspoon of water and ended up using my fingers to brush the tarts. Works too.

KT said...

Hi Chui Lan, please refer to my video, 4:22-4:28. Imagine the kueh bangkit crumbling in the mouth instead. How could it not be melt-in-the-mouth?

diananda said...

Hi KT, i wonder will it still be ok if i add some chocolate powder to the pastry recipe? In the last 2 years we have black nastar (black pineapple tarts) in Indonesia. thank you

diananda said...

hi KT, me again :D. i made half of ur recipe but still my butter isn't enough for 180gr, so I add margarine, and after 10 minutes i boiled it, I realized that the butter-margarine is never get darken. brown butter cant be substituted with margarine, fool me. but still i continue to tip the flour (i use high gluten, btw, just realized ran out of plain flour). the texture is crumbly and greasy. bake it and voila, it taste good. edible, but not that special. yeah yeah i dont follow the recipe, but lesson learned :D thanks!

willie borromeo said...

hi, this is the first time im going to do this recipe can you help me with the simple conversion of the ingrdients measurement from g or ml to tablespoon, cups measurement please

Jen Sol said...

Hi KT, I have a question. My family are vegan, so they don't take eggs. Is there anything I could use to substitute the egg yolk? Thanks!

KT said...

Are you the type of vegan who wants the blood of orang-utan on your hands? Or the type who doesn't?

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