My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthy Banana Sponge Cake-Loaf

Just a quick post this week, mainly because I haven't been feeling well. I'm still feeling a little under the weather now, but hopefully next week I can start afresh without feeling all queasy and ill. Anyhow, work's been pretty slow this week, so I've had time to think of what to bake this coming weekend. If only I had more bananas, I'd make another round of this banana cake/loaf. I've been enjoying slices of it over the past week, because it's been keeping well in the fridge, and I particularly enjoy it with my hot cuppa' milo in the morning.

I've also been contemplating what to call this - a banana cake or a banana bread or a banana loaf? I have no idea what's the real difference between all of them actually - I would think the main difference lies in the crumb and the method of making, followed by what kind of pan you actually place the batter in. So if that's the case, then my creation should most probably be called a banana cake-loaf since a banana bread merely uses the muffin method.

The original recipe was a normal banana sponge cake recipe, with a sponge cake method of whisking whole eggs to ribbon stage. I changed the recipe from an 8-inch cake into a loaf pan and mini cupcakes, and swapped out most of the white flour to various flours I had on hand. I also switched the method from whisking eggs (which I still suck at) to a basic butter and sugar creaming method. Main reason being I don't like using oil and I suck at whipping eggs to ribbon stage and I desperately wanted my banana cake craving to be satisfied.

And because I wanted it to be no-fail, I went along with a pretty popular recipe on the local blogosphere. You would think that no-fail means following the recipe to a T, but oh no that's not how I work. I merely used the recipe for its proportions because honestly, I didn't want to start from basic ratios and play around with the quantities until I got a right one, which is why I'm giving credit to the original source below, even though you will later see how much I massacred it. Being in the profession that I am, I think very highly of copyrights and intellectual property, which is perhaps why I find it very repugnant that some people have the gall to post recipes which are exact copies or very similar to famous recipes without giving proper accreditation. Even if you were merely inspired by a particular recipe, I do think it's important to give credit when it's due, because after all, you were inspired by that recipe to come up with something of your own! And imagine how much hard work that particular person had to put in, trying failures after failures, just to come up with those golden proportions. Just my two cents really - there are far better posts on the internet on recipe accreditation and copyrighting your recipes (which is a misnomer really, but that's a story for another day).

Original recipe
Adapted from Wen who adapted it from Richard Goh's baking class
Makes an 8" round cake

150g eggs, room temperature
130g sugar 
200g banana, mashed
150g cake flour (or top flour)
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda 
100g vegetable oil 

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Grease & line a 8" round tin with paper.
  3. Sieve flour, baking powder & soda together. Sieve twice & set aside.
  4. Whisk eggs, sugar & banana at maximum speed until you reach the thick ribbon stage, approximately 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients until all traces disappear. 
  6. Add in oil and fold well until the batter is shiny and flawy. 
  7. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. 

Janine's Banana Cake-Loaf
Makes a 6" round cake or 15cm loaf and a couple cupcakes 

50g unsalted butter 
¼ tsp sea salt
90g egg 
80g sugar (40g white and 40g brown) 
120g banana, mashed
100g all purpose flour* 
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
20g milk 

* I used 45g AP flour, 10g oatmeal flour, 15g almond meal, 15g millet flour and 15g sorghum flour. 

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Sieve the various flours, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter until softened. Add in the sugars and cream until fluffy. Add in the eggs and beat well, for about 1 minute or until mixture does not appear too curdled. 
  4. Next, add in the mashed banana and mix well. 
  5. Sieve in half of the dry ingredients, beating until all traces of flour disappear. Add in half of the milk and mix well. Repeat with a quarter of the dry ingredients and the remaining half of the milk, and end with the last quarter of the dry ingredients. You should get a smooth cake batter at this stage.
  6. If baking as a round cake, bake for about 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. If baking as cupcakes/muffins, bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops turn golden brown. Let cool for about 15 minutes on wire racks before serving. The cake tastes best the next day, after it is fully cooled and the cake has had time to develop its rich banana flavor. 

Janine's jots: 
  • Taste: I usually use bananas which are very ripe and have many many black spots. I find that those types of bananas (not sure of the name) make the nicest tasting cakes. Do not use the Del Monte type of bananas because the taste just isn't as rich. Also, bananas and cinnamon go extremely well together. If you like a spicier cake (like I do), feel free to up the cinnamon to ½ tsp and add a tiny pinch of nutmeg. The result is exquisite!
  • Texture: Because half of the flour has been replaced with flour which does not produce any gluten, you can actually mix the batter rather vigorously without fear of a dense cake forming because there just isn't enough gluten to be formed with the 45g of all-purpose flour. 
  • Modifications: I think I've made enough modifications to the original recipe already! ;p 
  • Storage: Because the cake contains banana, it only stores well for a day at room temperature in our tropical climate. After that, the cake will feel a little sticky. I would advise keeping the cake in the fridge, and it will taste good for at least a week. If you prefer, give the cake a quick 5s zap in the microwave and it will be slightly warm, perfect with a cup of tea in the morning :]
  • Would I make this again?: I have since made this cake for than a couple of times - in fact, this is my go-to recipe whenever I have overripe bananas! Do check out my follow-up post on yet another modification I made to the recipe!

I think this is perhaps one of my shortest posts to date, knowing how long-winded I am. Have a great weekend y'all! :] I'm looking forward to a bread-making weekend (hopefully work doesn't intrude)!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

[Thursday's Trio] Buckwheat Pancakes

Today I thought I’d perhaps rewind a bit and talk about how I got started with experimenting with gluten free and other non-wheat flours. (This is partly because I realized I’ve yet to post photos of these buckwheat pancakes and also because I didn’t have my camera this week to take any new photos.) As I was typing out today's post, I also decided that I shall name this new series Thursday's Trio, because for every new ingredient I'm introducing on this blog, I shall also include a trio of facts, uses and recipes for that particular ingredient (three is my lucky number, if you're wondering why trio). I had initially wanted to call it Feature Friday, but that's been used so many times, so Thursday's Trio it is. These facts and tips are usually stuff I scour the internet for when baking with something new, and is of great use to me when experimenting, so I hope it will be of use to you as well, especially if the ingredient is new to you too! :]

So today I'm starting with buckwheat

Now, I’m pretty sure I was like many of you – I frequented many blogs, especially blogs like Tartlette, La Tartine Gourmande and 101 Cookbooks. If you have the time, do click on the links because not only are the photographs exquisite, the persons behind those blogs are genial and truly have wonderful stories to tell. So anyway, visiting those blogs are definitely not good for me because I never fail to salivate each time I visit, and because I get the ‘itch’ – the itch to buy stuff and follow their recipes. All three bloggers share something in common – they believe in healthy and wholesome eating and as a result, their recipes tend not to use the white refined flours that we are used to. Now, I used to get very overwhelmed by all the new names I saw – buckwheat, sorghum, millet, etc. I used to think, what the hell are these?! There were several hurdles I had to overcome before I finally started buying some of those flours and opened a whole new world to myself. Like Sharon commented earlier, looking out of the ‘wheat’ square does tend to introduce you to new grains and flours, all of which are nutritious for you.

from left: almond, buckwheat and sorghum flours

Anyway, the first hurdle was my own self-inflicted fear of trying new things. Once I got over that (after convincing myself that if I failed I’d feed the stuff to my dogs), I faced another problem – where to get those weird sounding flours? At the supermarket, I only tend to see the same few flours. I managed to locate some of those flours, but then I was faced with yet another problem, these flours were sold in at least 500g quantities and were expensive! And I was afraid that I wouldn’t like the taste of them and hence waste the rest of the flour away! Sounds familiar? 

Long story short, I managed to find a pretty cheap source of unique flours (will let you all know where shortly in another post when I compile my list) and my experiments began! Most of my family members are quite ‘anti’ towards my experiments, so sadly, I am usually the only one eating it. I figured what better way to experiment than pancakes? Not only were they simple to make, I could make them in small batches enough for myself, and the taste of the flour will feature prominently, allowing me to decide if I liked the flour or not.

I decided to start with buckwheat. I have to admit that the moment I opened the flour packet, I was a little grossed out. The ‘smell’ reminded me of Indians (no offense or racist connotation intended!), and it was only after I asked my mom that I knew that buckwheat flour is a very commonly used flour in Indian cooking! No wonder I associated the smell of the flour with Indians! :] 

Anyway, most people will say that buckwheat has a nutty flavor, but it reminded me more of a grassy than nutty flavor. For bakers wanting to experiment with buckwheat, I’d strongly recommend starting small, because I found myself needing to get used to the almost smoky flavor of the flour. At first, I was wondering if it was because I got it from an Indian shop that it smelt and tasted so ‘Indian’ (I’m not being discriminatory here but I associate this smell with Indian homes), but I realized that it’s the same taste everywhere. It is an extremely earthy taste. 

Three interesting facts on buckwheat!
  1. Buckwheat is actually a plant, and not a cereal crop and the plant is usually ground with its outer bran, which is high in fiber. This gives us the dark brown color flour that we see, with dark flecks which is the bran. What’s even more interesting is that this fruit seed is actually related to rhubarb! 
  2. Buckwheat does not contain any gluten, which makes it a good flour to use for people with gluten intolerance. 
  3. Buckwheat is also an excellent source of protein. It contains all 8 essential amino acids. Low in fat and high in fibre. Basically, buckwheat is a super healthy food, and you can refer to this if you want to know more. 
Three ways of using buckwheat!
  1. It is also known as sarrasin in French, which is the base ingredient for sarrasin crêpes from Brittany, which I blogged about earlier. The same is known as blinis in Russia, which are essentially tiny egg like pancakes. Or you can just use them for these pancakes like what I’ve done. 
  2. It also makes buckwheat noodles, which are the backbone of much Japanese and Korean cuisine. Soba and naengmyeon anyone?
  3. You can also use buckwheat groats (Available at organic food stores) in porridge or in baking. They taste pretty good! 
Three interesting recipes I've bookmarked from local blogs: 

How to store buckwheat?
Most recommend storing buckwheat in a sealed, airtight container and placing it in a cool dark place. I say just put it in the fridge and it will last long enough for you to experiment with :] 

I didn’t want to use a buckwheat pancake recipe that I didn’t trust, because there are quite a few available on the internet. Instead, I modified my pancake recipe. This is my go-to pancake recipe, because I’ve modified it such that one batch below makes exactly 4 large pancakes, which I have over 2 mornings (2 each for breakfast each day).

Transitional Buckwheat Pancakes 

60g flour (30g buckwheat flour) 
2 tsp sugar 
¼ tsp salt 
½ tsp baking powder 
¼ tsp baking soda 
10g oil (I used olive oil) 
50g egg (small egg) 
85g milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder


  1. In a bowl, sift the flours with baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the salt and sugar. 
  2. In another bowl, mix the oil, egg, milk and vanilla extract together. 
  3. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry and give the mixture a quick mix or two. It is okay if the mixture contains a few lumps or two, do not overmix or else you will get tough pancakes! 
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium low heat. Using a 
    ¼-cup measuring spoon, ladle the 
    ¼-cup of batter on the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook for another 2 minute or until golden brown.
  5. Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm with maple syrup. Enjoy!

Janine's jots: 
  • Note:  My pancakes may look overly cooked and not evenly brown, but that's because I use very little oil in cooking them, relying on the nonstick pan and mainly heat to cook the pancakes, hence the uneven brownness. I also like to turn up the heat at the start so that the outsides cook faster than the inside, and I get a relatively more 'crispy' texture on the outside of the pancake. 
  • Taste: I like to add an extra pinch of cinnamon to my pancakes, because I feel that it enhances the taste and especially with buckwheat, since it really did help cut down the earthy taste and ease me into taking buckwheat. Also, the pancakes will definitely taste better if you can use melted butter instead of using oil, but in the mornings, I’m usually rushing for time, so olive oil it is!
  • Texture: Because buckwheat does not contain gluten, you can actually mix the dry ingredients into the wet more vigorously and ensure that no lumps remain because they won't turn as dense anyway. This recipe is a no-fail one, and produces fluffy pancakes all the time! 
  • Serving size: This recipe makes 4 large pancakes, as pictured above. 
  • Modifications: For someone new to buckwheat, I would definitely suggest starting with a smaller quantity, say 10g out of the 60g of all-purpose flour and slowly increasing the quantities until you reach 30g. At this proportions, the buckwheat does not taste too overwhelming and are just nice!
  • Storage: I’ve use this same recipe over a month, with varying amounts of different types of flour  every alternate day when I was in my pancake craze, and since the recipe made 4, I would eat two and keep 2 in the fridge. Although freshly made pancakes are definitely nicer, the ones that are stored in the fridge taste equally delicious after a 15 second zap in the microwave. Do make sure you store them in an airtight container. 
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely!

Bon appétit! Pancakes go extremely well with maple syrup :]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Roundup 2012

Once again, the much-hated or much-awaited (depending on whether you're single or attached) Valentine's Day is here. It's a day for girls to receive free gifts from their admirers or loved ones, and for boys to spend bucketloads of money buying roses and whatnots. For those who are very much single and available, don't despair, because this is a day to celebrate your beautiful friendships with your friends, or to even celebrate your love for your family.

There's a million things I love about this picture, from pinterest 

Valentine's need not be stressful - I remember back in my secondary school days, I was in an all-girls school, so we would give each other thoughtful gifts for Valentine's - I still remember a bunch of us making trips down to Ikea and various crafts shops just to make handwritten and handmade gifts for our classmates and friends. And that is still the message of Valentine's that I carry with me today. For the past few Valentine's that I can remember, I still make it a point to have a Valentine's meal (which usually isn't on the 14th) with the best girl friends one can ever have. Besides, even if my boyfriend were here with me on Valentine's Day, I wouldn't want him to give me roses or bring me to a special restaurant to eat. For many reasons, first being everything is exorbitantly expensive on Valentine's, and there really is no purpose is trying to show off how much you love your other half on this Day and treat her/him like crap on the other days. So there. In any case, I love handmade stuff, and here are some quick last-minute gifts you can make (as cheesy as they may seem):

These are both fantastic ideas from Disney's Family Fun, and are really simple gifts, especially for children and students as gifts.

And while I'm on the topic of children and things that they can do/have, parents - you can make these for your child or even make it into a Valentine's project!

Heart shaped bento by Lisa

Teddy Bear Taco Tart by Beth

I'm not sure about you, but this meringue candy necklace reminds me of those candy I used to have as a kid - they had holes in them and were pastel colored and you could whistle through them! Anyone knows what I'm talking about?

Meringue Candy Necklace from Bakingdom

Okay, so I did a Valentine's Day roundup of some of the available ideas and recipes on the internet the last year, and I thought I'd do the same this year, because I am using some of the ideas to make some edible desserts for my family and friends and I thought it might be helpful for some of you, to perhaps spark some creativity in you for you to make your own edible gift! So bring on the reds and pinks and chocolates!

Again, starting with breakfast, what about some:

 Here are some more ideas:

blood orange curd filled beet donuts? naturally red :]
Heart shaped french toast with stewed berries by Marina 
Heart-shaped breadsticks by mealpod
Or it could be a healthy heart-shaped granola bar!

For my gluten-free friends, there's a round-up specially for you here!

And moving onto lunch! My favorites - pizza and lasagna :]

Pizza in the shape of a heart :]

And a hearty lasagna, pun intended ;p
And this by Haniela, is ingenious. Simple, and my favorite carbohydrate.

And onto my favorite meal/dish - DESSERT :D
one of my favorite flavor combinations,  madeleines ispahan by Evan
similar flavor combination - raspberry lychee mousse perhaps? 
Intertwining ring cookies - how's that for something unique?
you cannot get any cuter than with domokun hearts!
A hidden heart in a heart cupcake! From Veronica who got her idea from Desert Living Today

My favorite linzer hearts

Moving onto the not so easy now, how about some heart-shaped macarons made by yours truly?

white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with hearts!
A healthy pomegranate cranberry heart?
Not forgetting a red velvet cake!
blackberry no-bake cheesecake by Yelena

And if you have the time (and skill) to make more elaborate stuff, do consider these!

lulu's rose heart cake - simply ethereal
red velvet cupcakes with roses
Another lovely entremet by Pook

Yet another one by Evan - same flavors, but in different forms

I also love these cakes - a valentine cake with a surprise and a rustic chocolate valentine cake!

And finally, my favorite ingredient of all time - chocolate. Here's a photograph of a cake I've been wanting to try from one of my favorite photographers/stylists. It's simple, fudgy and rustic, just the way I like my chocolate cakes :]

Chocolate Fudge cake by Katie

As always, all pictures are credited to their rightful owners - I don't own any of them besides the macaron photo. So get those creative juices flowing because Valentine's Day is just two days away! :]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Review on Pineapple Tarts - attempting 6 different recipes and many batches

I had wanted to post this yesterday, on Chap Goh Meh, or the 15th day of Chinese New Year to round up the last of my CNY themed posts, but work came up and I couldn’t finish the post in time.

So here it is, one day after the last day of CNY, which is rather apt as well since this is my concluding and round-up post for all the festive baking I’ve been doing. I know many people do their cookie baking in December, because Europeans and Westerners in general tend to associate cookies with Christmas. For myself however, the cookie mania starts the month before Chinese New Year, whenever that is. This year, I’ve actually baked about 20 varieties of cookies, playing around with different recipes. Eventually I think I went back to my kampong bringing 16 types of cookies, most of which had good reviews from my relatives. I still have loads more cookies I want to attempt, but I’m shelving them for next year, and who knows, I might come up with even more ideas the next time.

Some of the cookies packed in jars ready to be brought back to my grandma's

So anyway, I started making pineapple tarts about one month ago, slightly after Christmas. This year, I had a goal – to find the best pineapple tart cookie by trying as many recipes as I could and deciding upon the best. I’ve to admit that I’ve failed in this endeavour, because there were pros and cons to each recipe, but I’m glad I tried that many recipes, because it helped me distill what I liked and didn’t like for each recipe. This I believe puts me in better stead of pineapple-tart making next year :]

These are the sum total of recipes that I tried, which I've divided into two categories:

Recipes with 'melt in the mouth' texture, suitable for enclosed tarts:
  1. Youfei's recipe
  2. Agnes Chang's recipe (similar to Lai Kuan's and SSB's
  3. Little Teochew's recipe
Recipes with a more solid sturdy texture, suitable for open-faced tarts:
  1. My mom's friend Karen's recipe
  2. My grandaunt Rita's recipe
Along with these recipes that I've tried, I had also bookmarked a couple of other recipes, but I wasn't able to try them because well, I didn't have that much pineapple paste for that many tarts. Here's a short list of recipes that I'll probably try next year:
  • Anncoo (uses rub-in method)
  • Wendy (uses cream and cream cheese)
  • Sonia (uses condensed milk)
  • Tracie (uses rub-in method as well)
  • Ah Tze (uses only ghee)
  • Peng/HHB (uses creaming method)
  • ZY (uses rub in method)

I'll just start by saying that although I did make and try 6 different recipes, I don't believe I've found 'the one' yet, because there are things that I both liked and didn't like with each recipe, but I think with some tweaking any of these recipes could easily be it. There are basically two methods of making pineapple tarts, the creaming method and the rub-in method. I'll start by writing in detail how each of these methods work, because besides the difference in ingredients, everything else will be identical.

Creaming method:
  1. Sieve dry ingredients (which may include flour, corn flour, salt, baking powder, milk powder, custard powder) together. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and cream together with sugar until lightened and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract.
  3. Add in the egg yolks and mix until well combined.
  4. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Once the flour comes together, stop mixing. Shape the dough into a disc shape and leave it to chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until slightly firm.
  5. In the meantime, divide the pineapple paste into equal sizes, rolling them into balls.When ready to make the tarts, remove the dough from the fridge.
  6. For enclosed tarts, weigh and roll the dough into equal sized balls. Flatten the balls into a round disc and place the ball of pineapple paste in the centre. Pinch the seams of the dough disc together and give the ball a quick roll. You can choose to shape the ball into a spherical ball, or make it slightly elongated and rectangular, or slightly oval to mimic pineapples.
  7. For open-faced tarts, make sure that the dough is quite firm after at least an hour of chilling. Roll out the dough on a clean work surface (you don't need to flour the surface if the dough is buttery and firm enough) until you get the desired thickness. I tend to roll it to about 1 cm thick. Using your desired cutter, cut shapes into the dough. Then, proceed to place your ball of pineapple paste in the centre of the shape. You can also choose to put designs on the tarts as I've done.
  8. Once you're done, give the tarts an egg wash and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to turn the tray 180° at the 10-12 minute mark, to make sure there is even baking/browning all around.
Rubbing-in method:
  1. Sieve dry ingredients (which may include flour, corn flour, salt, baking powder, milk powder, custard powder) and sugar together. Set aside.
  2. Dice the butter into 3-cm large cubes and place them in the fridge until ready to use. Make sure the butter is really cold. Using a pastry cutter or a fork or your fingertips, rub the butter cubes into the dry ingredients until you get flattened pieces of butter coated with flour and the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  3. In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla and cold water (if any). Add it into the butter mixture and using your fingertips, gently combine the wet and dry ingredients, pressing gently until a dough is formed. Do not knead the dough excessively because you do not want the butter to melt! Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  4. In the meantime, divide the pineapple paste into equal sizes, rolling them into balls.When ready to make the tarts, remove the dough from the fridge.
  5. For enclosed tarts, weigh and roll the dough into equal sized balls. Flatten the balls into a round disc and place the ball of pineapple paste in the centre. Pinch the seams of the dough disc together and give the ball a quick roll. You can choose to shape the ball into a spherical ball, or make it slightly elongated and rectangular, or slightly oval to mimic pineapples.
  6. For open-faced tarts, make sure that the dough is quite firm after at least an hour of chilling. Roll out the dough on a clean work surface (you don't need to flour the surface if the dough is buttery and firm enough) until you get the desired thickness. I tend to roll it to about 1cm thick. Using your desired cutter, cut shapes into the dough. Then, proceed to place your ball of pineapple paste in the centre of the shape. You can also choose to put designs on the tarts as I've done.
  7. Once you're done, give the tarts an egg wash and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Very importantly, I forgot to add that I use my mom's recipe for the pineapple paste and she does it the old-fashioned way - grating the pineapples by hand (no blender please!) so that you can the fibrous strands that you can see in the enclosed tart photo below. Here's the link to my mom's recipe. I'm really can find no fault with the recipe, so I haven't really bothered with trying other recipes floating about the internet. And don't get put off by the fact that pineapple jam takes long to make - it is in fact exactly like any other fruit jams and it really doesn't take a whole day. If you cut and grate the pineapples quickly enough, then cook the jam right after, it'll only take you say 4 hours at the most? It's best if you have a side-kick like me and my mom, so one person does the cutting and grating and the other does the constant stirring on the stove :]

Preliminary notes: There were things I both liked and disliked about each recipe, and I'll be briefly jotting them down below.

Recipes with 'melt in the mouth' texture, suitable for enclosed tarts:

Youfei's recipe
(rub-in method)

180g butter
¼ tsp salt
250g all-purpose flour
20g corn flour
10g milk powder
50g icing sugar, sifted

1 yolk
¼ tsp vanilla

Comments: I actually made two batches of this recipe, because I liked the melt-in-the-mouth texture that this provided. However, I found it too sweet, so I decreased the icing sugar to just 20g for the second batch and upped the vanilla to half a teaspoon. Definitely a recipe that I'll turn to again next year.

Agnes Chang's recipe
(uses creaming method)

220g unsalted butter
50g castor sugar (or icing)

½ tsp vanilla
2 yolks

360g all-purpose flour
10g corn flour
8g milk powder
¼ tsp salt

Comments: I thought the sugar amounts here was just right, although I would increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon because I personally don't like the taste of yolks. I would also increase the milk powder slightly more the next time around. This recipe got quite a lot of raves from my relatives for its tenderness and melty texture, although I'm personally not a fan because I thought it stuck to the roof of my mouth too much. 

 Little Teochew's recipe
(rub-in method)
400g all-purpose flour
50g corn flour
¼ tsp salt
280g cold, unsalted butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
½ tsp vanilla
3 tbsp cold water
6 tbsp icing sugar

Comments: I found the dough too soft because too much water was added. Next time round, I'll decrease this to 1 tablespoon instead. Taste-wise, I didn't think there was much of a difference between this recipe and the previous one above.  

Recipes with a more solid sturdy texture, suitable for open-faced tarts:

Lily's Open-face Pineapple Tart Recipe
(uses rub-in method, or use a food processor)

280g flour
1tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar

110g butter
56g margarine

1 yolk
½ tsp vanilla

2-4 tablespoons chilled water

Comments: This produced one of the sturdiest tarts ever, but the tarts were way too bland. I thought a little bit more sugar and some milk powder would help. Definitely like it because it handles very well for open-faced tarts.

Karen's Pineapple Tart Recipe
(uses creaming method)

140g margarine
120g butter
40g icing sugar

2 eggs

370g all-purpose flour
40g corn flour
¼ tsp salt

Comments: Since this is my mom's friend's recipe, I'm quite biased towards it because I thought it was a pretty good recipe to begin with. I did more tweaking for it the second time around, using 220g butter and just 40g of margarine to give it that crispiness. I also substituted some corn flour with milk powder to enhance the taste. Another recipe that I'll try again next year for open-faced tarts.

Rita's Nyonya Pineapple Tart Recipe
(uses rub-in method)

400g all-purpose flour
250g salted butter
1 egg
40g sugar
(optional: ½ tsp vanilla)

Comments: This is probably a recipe which is more than 50 years old. My grandaunt has been using this recipe since a long long time ago, and you can probably tell that it is an old recipe because it doesn't contain much frills. The original recipe has just 4 ingredients - butter, flour, egg and sugar. And this was the recipe that my mom used for a decade or more, before I stepped in with my experiments ;p This is definitely a versatile recipe for both open-faced and enclosed tarts, and I believe most other nyonya or nastar rolls will use similar recipes. In fact, the original recipe makes use of margarine, which gives it a very crisp texture. In my attempts using this recipe, I used unsalted butter with a half teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of vanilla, and substituting 20g of flour with milk powder. Delicious!

Janine's jots: 
  • Serving size: Most of these recipes make use of a block of butter or thereabouts, and with this amount, you can probably make 80-100 pineapple tarts, depending on whether it is the enclosed or open types, and how large your tarts are.
  • Storage: Separately, you can store the pineapple paste in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer for up to a year. The paste does not freeze in the freezer because of the sugar content and yes, I've tried using a year-old paste which my mom made the previous year. You cannot tell the difference after it's baked. For the dough, you can make it up to a week in advance, although I would advise making it a maximum of three days before lest the 'fridge' smell seeps into the dough. After you've baked the tarts, wait for them to cool completely and store them in air-tight containers. They will laste for about a month before they lose their crispness or tenderness.
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely! And I'm going to go about it more scientifically next year so that I can definitively come up with "the best" pineapple tart recipe!
  • Other comments:
  • You will realize that actually, the proportions are largely similar. In fact, I did a brief calculation of the proportions of butter to flour, which I think is the main factor affecting taste and texture in the tarts, and the recipes range from a 0.58-0.65 ratio of butter/fat to flour. Of course, within these ratios itself, you could probably play around with using shortening, margarine, ghee or butter or even cream cheese, all of which will impact upon the flakiness and 'shortness' and tenderness of the tart. I haven't tried all combinations, but I personally like using all butter for the enclosed version, and using some margarine or shortening when I need the open-faced tarts to be more crispy.
  • The other difference of course is choosing to use corn flour to substitute for some of the all-purpose flour. I think there is a difference in how sturdy the tart turns out, but I also believe that using cake flour, or triple-sifted all-purpose flour might also do the trick. Custard powder is actually yellow-colored cornstarch/flour, so please don't be fooled and go all the way to buy custard powder. You can actually use the same amount of cornstarch together with 1-2 drops of yellow coloring to get the same effect.
  • Another thing about the dry ingredients or flour proportions is that I like the addition of milk powder because I find that it gives the tart a nice milky flavour. You can substitute about 5g of milk powder to every 100g of flour required in the recipe, or you can experiment and find which quantities you like best. Alternatively, if the recipe requires the addition of cold water, you can substitute that with cold milk. I've tried that in some of the recipes above and it works the same, although the milky flavor is not as intense because so little milk is added.
  • If you notice, there are varying amounts of egg being used - some use the whole egg, while most tend to use just the yolks. From what I know from food science, the yolk provides the moistness and tenderness, whereas the white provides the structure; so if you use the whole egg, it is likely that you'll get a sturdier crust whereas if you use just the yolk, you'll get a more tender crust.
  • For sugar, you can use icing sugar if you want a meltier texture, but otherwise, castor sugar works fine as well. I don't like my tart crust to be too sweet, because the pineapple paste is already sweet, so I tend to use about 30g of sugar to 250g of butter for the recipes.
  • I have no idea how the creaming or rub-in method affects the tart, because I didn't actually attempt making a single recipe using varying methods. I can probably generalize it by saying that it is likely that rub-in method gives you a melt-in-your-mouth, tender texture, but then again, the creaming method can also provide the same results (see Agnes Chang's recipe above). So the method probably does affect the end-product to some extent, although I'm not sure what. Anyone has any idea?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...