Pineapple Tarts Recipe
Recipe updated Jan 2014
So how does one turn this …
… into this?
Well, let me tell you. With a little bit of patience and effort, you can!
Pineapple tarts is a popular Chinese New Year delicacy in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is one of my favourite snacks when I go visiting during CNY. I wanted to quietly celebrate CNY in Melbourne, so I bought myself a small jar of pineapple tarts from Jerky House for $15.
They were an absolute fail.
Clay-like pastry with artificial flavourings and a filling that’s too sweet. I brought the jar to work and even my ang moh colleagues who aren’t that fussy only picked at the jar slowly.
My friend Aelle was telling me that Singaporean and Malaysian aunties are baking the tarts at home and selling them at Glen Waverley grocers. But I thought, why search for these elusive “aunty tarts” that only arrive at the Glen’s grocers on Saturdays? I should take things into my own hands and make them myself!
So one sunny Saturday afternoon, Ees and I embarked on project pineapple tarts. It was arduous work, especially for Ees who did most of the stirring and pastry making, but they turned out pretty good.
After some taste feedback from Ees and Jo, I made another batch the Wednesday after with some recipe adjustments. I was quite happy with the result. Actually very happy. Feedback from Aunty Rita and her high maintenance Malaysian and Singaporean friends was that we could start a business selling these tarts during CNY. Haha, no thank you. Too leh cheh (tedious).
A ‘gift’ jar of pineapple tarts for the people I know would appreciate them
I’m happy to share my findings here and would encourage you to try out the recipe cos I think it’s quite good. But first of all, you have to know my preference profile. Each member of my family likes it differently. I think mum prefers it soft and crumbly. Dad and grandma prefers tarts with a firm pastry. In fact, grandma likes the pastry and filling almost biscuit-like, which is funny cos she.. umm *koff* —> dentures. Lol!! I like my pastry crumbly when bitten and it has to have a hint of salt. And I like my pineapple filling to have fibres in it and be on the tart side rather than sweet. Tarts made using store-bought pineapple jams just won’t taste the same nor have the same texture as authentic pineapple filling. And lastly, I don’t like the use of any flavourings and extracts in the tarts.
So to sum it up, this recipe will probably give you a firm-yet-crumbly pastry that is slightly salty, and a filling that’s texturally fibrous with a tangy zing to it. If it sounds good, try it! I’ll post it below. : )
You may want to do the filling the night before. The actual grating and cooking process can take quite awhile. I was silently cursing under my breath when I had to stand in front of the stove for a whole hour simmering and stirring the ingredients on low heat until it reduced into a nice golden sticky filling.
The only way to get good filling is to use fresh pineapples. If the pineapples are very ripe and sweet, you may need to reduce the sugar in the recipe.
And to get the fibrous texture in the filling, the pineapples should be hand-grated rather than blended in a food processor. I did blend the bits of hard pineapple core that were difficult to grate though. (Note: the traditional grater on the right that mom got for me worked much better)
Sieving the juices from the grated pineapple. If you don’t sieve it, then you’ll be standing in front of the stove stirring for half a day, haha!
Here’s the cooked pineapple filling.
Pastry is a temperamental brat. The same pastry recipe will give varying outcomes under different hands. Do it on a day with different weather, say its warmer or more humid, and it might again turn out different under your hands! How annoying. I think the art of pastry-making relies a lot on skill, instinct and intuition. I am humbled that I have so much more to learn. Since the publication of this recipe, I’ve made these tarts many times and can now share with you some of the things I’ve learnt.
Back then, we tried 2 methods… one using the spoon to mix, and the other using the rubbing-in method. I think the rubbing-in method works well and will post that. But since 2014, I’ve also started using a pastry cutter, such a gadget person… me!
Ees stirring the ingredients using the spoon method.
Mid-way through the rubbing-in method under my hands. (NB: I probably should’ve handled it less to create an even more crumbly texture)
And here’s my latest toy, a pastry cutter. The cornerstone of making beautiful pastry involves using cold cold cold ingredients (I even chilled the sieved flour, and worked in an air-conditioned room!) and minimal handling of the dough. So I assume that a cool metal pastry cutter works better than warm fingertips… unless you have icy hands!
I stopped mixing when the pastry reached the coarse flecky texture (pictured left) and started adding the ice cold water then. I also stopped using the pastry cutter (if you have one) at the stage where the dough started clumping behind the blades (pictured right).
Even when it’s quite crumbly, start combining the dough into a ball without overworking it too much. It’s okay to have flecks of butter in the dough. Wrap it in plastic and allow it to rest in the fridge for an hour.
I know making these tarts can be quite terok (Malay: tedious and arduous), but here’s some refreshing respite. You can drink the sieved juices from the grated pineapples!
The pastry is rolled to about 4mm thick.
PS: After I shared this recipe, mom even got me these perspex boards cut to the exact width for precision rolling…! But to be honest, they aren’t necessary, just estimate. =)
And here’s my pineapple tart cutter. It’s small and gives you neat bite-sized tarts. Using this mould, the recipe below gave me 160 tarts (more to share around and give away!). I’m not sure if you can find these piston moulds in Melbourne, but a quick eBay search will probably nab you pretty similar mould cutters.
What a pretty sight!
You could almost want to eat them even before baking! I had to smack Ees’s hands and say “Hands off!” :D
Egg-washing is the one part that I hate doing, it’s so fiddly! But it’s an essential step in order to get a nice golden brown pastry.
Okay Ees. You can eat them after I take this picture.
Pineapple Tart Recipe
(Updated Jan 2014)
- Consider making this a day in advance, it’s time consuming
- Grate 2 large pineapples or 4 medium pineapples
- Sieve the juices until the grated pineapple is less wet
- Place the grated pineapple, cinnamon sticks and cloves into a non-stick pot
- Cook over low heat stirring all the time until pineapple turns translucent (approx 15 mins)
- Add the sugar and continue to cook until pineapple turns a golden colour and has a semi-soft sticky texture (approx 30-60mins)
- Allow to cool and refrigerate until you are ready to make the pastry
- Sieve the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl
- Remove butter from fridge, cut into small pieces and add to the bowl
- Gently rub-in the butter into the flour using fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs (alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter)
- Add the egg yolks and continue to mix with hands (or pastry cutter)
- Do not overwork the dough, it’s okay to have flecks of butter in it
- Slowly add the iced water and mix gently with hands till the pastry starts binding together and leaves the sides of the mixing bowl
- At this stage, stop mixing and start compressing the bits into a crumbly ball of dough
- Wrap pastry in a sheet of plastic and chill in fridge for 1hour, the dough will become quite hard, that’s normal
- Keep in fridge as you take small batches out to roll
- Line pastry board with a plastic sheet and place a small portion of pastry on it
- Cover pastry with another sheet of plastic
- Roll dough to about 4mm thick
- Use tart mould to cut out the tart, place on baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
- Use a soft fine brush to glaze the tarts with egg wash
- Roll a small ball of filling, flatten slightly and place on centre of tart
- Decorate the top by placing bits of cut-out pastry
- Bake in pre-heated oven at 170ºC for 20-25 mins or till tarts are a nice golden brown.
For more home-baked goodies and comforting home recipes, check out my recipe index.
Closed Pineapple Tarts
If you haven’t got a tart mould you can make closed tarts (PS: I’d make 25% more pastry than what’s on the recipe if making closed tarts). Just flatten a piece of pastry on your hand to about 3-4 inches in diameter, place filling in the middle and wrap. Glaze it with egg wash, then use a knife to create lines on top to give a design. Bake as above, but after the 25mins, egg wash the tarts again and bake for a further 5 mins.