Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pineapple Tarts Recipe (with preparation photographs)

Ahh..Pineapple tarts - buttery and sweet. To me, the number one sweet treat that I associate most with Chinese New Year is pineapple tarts.
I've baked pineapple tarts so many times, I've lost count. And each time I bake these tarts, I'd experiment with different types of pineapples, various baking ingredients and their proportions, methods of mixing, assembling, baking temperature and time, even which side of the baking tray to use! After many, many baking sessions in my little kitchen, my recipe is finally printed in my first cookbook 'Delicious Asian Sweet Treats'!

The ingredients used here in the recipe below are a bit different from the ones I used in my recipe in the 'Delicious Asian Sweet Treats' cookbook. This recipe contains egg yolks (the one in my cookbook does not contain egg yolks, so it's great for vegetarians), and I used caster sugar instead of icing sugar (for those of you who do not usually buy icing sugar).

450g of pineapple filling (commercially-bought or homemade)
360g plain flour plus extra for dusting (3 cups minus 2 tbsp)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
280g cold unsalted butter (2 sticks plus 1 tbsp)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Egg glaze: 1 egg yolk mixed with a few drops of water (to thin it)

• Sift flour and sugar. Mix well.
• Cut butter into small cubes and add to flour mixture. (See 'Brands of ingredients I use'.)

• Use fingertips to rub the butter into the flour.

• Lightly beat egg yolks and vanilla essence and add to butter mixture. Combine and knead lightly to form a dough. Wrap the dough in clingwrap and chill it for an hour to firm it up. Chilling the dough makes it easy to handle.

• Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Divide dough into two portions. Keep one portion chilled. Roll the other portion (on a floured surface) to a thickness of about 7mm. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out shapes.

• Use a scraper (or knife) to lift the shapes and place on the tray. (See 'Baking equipment' for a photograph of a scraper.)
• Create a dent in the middle of the cookie shape.
• Brush egg glaze over the edges of the shapes.
• Pinch about 1/2 tablespoon of pineapple filling and neaten it to form a ball. Compress it lightly, then place on a cookie shape.
• Preheat the oven at 190°C (375°F) for 10 minutes.

• Place some dough in a disposable piping bag and snip off a little at the corner to create a small hole. Twist the top of the bag and pipe patterns on the pineapple filling.
(See 'Baking equipment' for alternatives to piping bags.)

• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Using a flat spatula, transfer the tarts to a wire rack. Allow tarts to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. (See 'Types of containers'.)

Note: Compressing the pineapple ball filling gives it a lovely slight 'flattish' shape when baked (see picture above)

I used the above dough to make these 'closed' pineapple tarts. They taste great too! The one on the right has a clove stuck in it. It is to be removed before eating. Cloves add a wonderful fragrance to pineapple tarts.
But here, I made the mistake of brushing the egg yolk glaze before baking, which explains for the 'dry-looking' appearance. What I should have done is bake them for 6 minutes, then remove them from the oven, brush the egg glaze, then pop them back to be baked for a further 6 minutes.

recipe notes
• During baking, the dough will flatten slightly and spread a little. Therefore, when shaping the dough, do not roll it too thinly or the tarts will turn out flat and unattractive.
• Due to its high butter content, the dough may be sticky and hard to handle. Lightly flour the work surface, rolling pin and cookie cutter often. Also, leave half of the dough chilled in the fridge while you work with the other half.
• Pineapple tart cookie cutters are available at some supermarkets and baking supply stores. Look for them at the kitchenware or baking equipment section. They come in two parts – one cuts out the dough and the other creates a dent in the centre. See picture above. If unavailable, use any round cookie cutter to cut out dough, then use your thumb to create a dent in the centre.
• Due to the absence of egg, yellow food colouring is added to the dough to give it some colour.
• If the tarts spread too much during baking, increase the baking temperature slightly (200°C) for a few minutes at the start (this slows down the spreading), then lower the temperature to 190°C and bake till the tarts are done. Bake longer if you prefer crisper tarts.
• To store, use greaseproof paper to separate layers of tarts in an airtight container.

Rub-in method versus creaming method:
The rub-in method is one where you use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. I use this method in this recipe because I want the pineapple tarts to retain its fluted edges as much as possible. If I had used the creaming method (where the butter and sugar are whisked and mixed, and the flour added after that) instead, the tarts would lose its defined fluted edges.

Difficulty in handling buttery dough:
When the weather is warm and humid, the dough is hard to handle and often sticks to the rolling pin. This is what I do to remedy the situation:
- sprinkle flour on my work surface and rolling pin
- leave half of the dough chilled to keep it firm, while I work with the other half
- dip the cookie cutter in flour often
- do away with the rolling pin; take a fist-sized amount of dough and use my palm to press and flatten it.
- turn on the air-conditioning!

It's vital to use a scraper:
A scraper is simply a small, smooth, hard and very flat plastic or metallic object. I use it to scrape and lift up cut-out dough shapes. It is impossible to lift the shapes up without one, due to the tenderness of the dough. If you don't have a scraper, use a knife. But do be careful that you do not accidentally hurt yourself!

One more recipe note: Icing sugar and caster sugar can be used interchangebly in this recipe. Both serve to sweeten the buttery dough a little. But caster sugar is used in lesser amount (2 tbsp as opposed to 60g icing sugar) because it may cause the tart to lose its melt-in-the-mouth texture.

I hope the above inspires you to bake your own pineapple tarts. It's really not that difficult. Make the pineapple filling first, then freeze it. It will keep for a month this way. Then gather a bunch of friends or relatives on a Saturday afternoon and have fun making pineapple tarts together!


Anonymous said...

Hi Oilin

I have read your blog on the pineapple tart pastry. I will try it this Saturday. *excited*

However, could you kindly share with me the recipe for the filling?? I actually went to the link, realised the filling is made by Ripe pineapples. But i do understand that normally ‘not so ripe’ pineapples is used instead..therefore, i would appreciate if you could share the recipes of the ‘not so ripe’ pineapples filling to me..thank you so much..

I have tried preparing the filling before..but it was very hard that you can use as ‘gor li’ (marbles)..haha! therefore, i m determine to learnt the filling again this year to surprise my family..hee..

oo…btw, could you kindly advise me what you guys meant by ‘1 portion’ in the number of portions of filling refer to??

For the recipes on the pastry and filling, how many tarts can it yield???

I also realise that you did not include baking powder as part of your pastry recipes..any reason why?

and for the unsalted butter, the quantity stated was 280g.. but u also stated ‘2 sticks and 1 tbsp’..wat does tat meant?

lastly, can i exclude the sugar for the pastry?? cos i believe that the filling is sweet enough to fill in the sweetness of the tarts..


O.L. said...

Hi Diana,
Thank you for your message.
With regards to the not-so-ripe pineapple filling recipe, it’s the same method and ingredients as the one you saw on Simply add more sugar till the taste of the filling is sweet enough for you.
I tried using unripe pineapples to cook the filling because I read somewhere that unripe pineapples are good for use in pineapple tarts. But after some experimenting, I went back to using sweet honey pineapples because I find that I do not need to add much sugar if the pineapple is sweet by itself.
If the pineapples you buy are too ripe and sweet for your liking, simply add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the filling towards the end (when the filling is almost ready to be dished out). Always taste-test before you add more lemon juice. The lemon juice adds a little tangy zing to the pineapple filling!
I like to use honey pineapples because they taste fabulous! I usually buy them from this wholesaler shop located opposite Tiong Bahru MRT. They cost $3.50 for 4 pineapples! What a great bargain! (These honey pineapples cost $1.30 each at supermarkets) But you have to go during the day, because by evening, most of it would have been sold, and what’s left are the not-so-nice looking ones.
Guess what? I have made pineapple filling that is hard, chewy and tough-tasting too. That was because the filling was left cooking on the stove for too long. It became dry and hard. And after I used them in my pineapple tarts and baked them in the oven, they became harder still! So they didn’t taste that great. The solution to that is not to stirfry the filling for too long. Dish up the filling from the pot when it is semi-dry (but not too wet that it cannot be rolled into balls), bearing in mind that when it is baked in the oven later, it will dry up further.
Another way to prevent the pineapple filling from becoming too hard, is to add the sugar only at the end when the filling is almost ready, NOT when it is still watery. If sugar is cooked for too long, it caramelizes and hardens. After you add the sugar, the filling will become slightly watery. Simply leave it to be cooked till semi-dry before dishing it up.
1 portion of pineapple filling refers to the amount you get when you cook 1 pineapple. For example if you cook 2 pineapples, then you get 2 portions of pineapple filling.
For the pineapple tart recipe posted on this blog, it makes about 50 tarts (I think). I know it doesn’t sound a lot, but it really depends on how big your pineapple tart cutter is, how much pineapple filling you use and how thick you roll the dough.
I did not include baking powder because I like to keep my recipes as simple as possible for readers. Not everyone buys things such as baking powder cos they think that they’ll only use a little of it, before storing it in their pantry for a long time. I only use baking powder in my recipes if it is absolutely necessary. After all, it is a chemical, and I try to keep my recipes as chemical-free as possible. In the case of pineapple tarts, I find no difference in taste, whether I use baking powder or not (I’ve done experiments!). The only difference is that the dough expands a little more during baking and my tarts lose a little of their fluted edge patterns (which wasn’t what I wanted).
I wrote ‘2 sticks and 1 tbsp’ for the amount of butter. This is for the benefit of readers who don’t own a weighing scale and also for readers who are more used to the American way of measuring ingredients. 2 sticks is equivalent to 227g. (The brand Anchor butter comes in blocks of 227g each.) If you have a weighing scale, simply use the 280g measurement.
You can definitely omit the use of sugar in the pastry. For me, I included sugar in the dough because it helps to enhance the flavour of the flour and butter. But if the pineapple filling is sweet enough, then it is ok to omit sugar in the dough.
Do give the recipe a try. The difficult part may be in the rolling of the dough. Take a look at the tips I’ve written in the blog on how to make rolling the dough easier. And I’m sure everything will turn out fine!
I hope the above has been useful to you. Keep me posted. I would love to know how the tarts turned out!

Warm regards,

Cheryl said...

Hi Oilin,

I tried the recipe in this post... And for some reason, my "tart" is really crumbly! I can hardly pick the tart up! Do you know what happened?

The tart is slightly better if I refrigerate it for a little while just before baking. But it's still really crumbly. It crumbles immediately upon biting. And I've got to pick it up REALLY slowly and lightly.

Thanks a lot!


O.L. said...

Hi Cheryl,
If the tarts are too crumbly, here's what you can do:
- reduce the amount of butter used by 30g, or
- increase the amount of flour by 40g, or
- bake the tarts longer.
Hope the above is useful. I do appreciate your comments and feedback. Keep them coming!


Anonymous said...

Hi Oilin,

I baked some tarts according to your melt-iin-your mouth recipe yesterday. Some questions:

1. I put the base of the tarts to bake in the oven for 6 mins, remove it, put on egg glaze, pineapple filling, criss cross design and brush egg glaze again, and finally into the oven for another 12 mins. Is this the correct method? Because you mentioned not to put the egg glaze before baking.

2. Chilling means putting in the dough in the freezer or just the fridge?

3.When I put the done tarts in my mouth, the tarts turn out kind of powdery and flour-ry instead of the melty feeling. How can I resolve this?

4. Why do we need to put the dough in the fridge for 1 hour before we roll it? Besides the reason of hardening it, Is it for the melt in your mouth texture?

Thank you!
Looking forward to your reply!


O.L. said...

Hi Yen,
Thanks for organising and numbering your questions! Here are the answers:
1. Yes, that is the correct method. When the tarts are baked during the first 6 minutes, they spread and expand a little. It is better to apply egg glaze AFTER the tarts have expanded, so that the entire rim of the tart is glazed. If the egg glaze was applied BEFORE baking, then the part of the tart that expanded will not have egg glaze. And the tarts won't look as attractive.
2. Chilling the dough means putting it in the fridge. Actually, you can start rolling the dough and cutting out the tarts without chilling the dough first. Sometimes that's what I do if I don't have time. However, I usually recommend first-time bakers to chill the dough, because it makes the dough so much easier to handle and roll. However, if you are an experienced baker, you would have no problem rolling and handling non-chilled dough. It does take practice though.
3. If the tarts taste powdery and flour-ry, you can try changing the brand of flour. Or use freshly bought flour from a store that has a high turnover rate; meaning their stocks are regularly replaced. Flour that has been sitting around on the shelf for a long time can taste 'funny' if not stored properly or if not used for a long time after the packet is opened. Another way to make your tarts less 'flour-ry' is to increase the amount of sugar in the dough, perhaps add 2 more tablespoons. Lastly, you can increase the baking time. This helps bring out the flavour of the butter and sugar, which will then 'overpower' the taste of the flour.
4. The reason for chilling the dough is not so much as to harden it. Hardened dough is difficult to roll! Chilling is more for firming the dough up, so it's not so soft. When it's soft, beginner bakers find it frustrating to roll and handle. By the way, chilling the dough does not help make the tarts melt-in-the-mouth.
It's great that you make your own pineapple tarts! Not many people bake nowadays; I suppose everyone's really busy. But baking is also a form of relaxation. And when you get really good at it, you can even start a business!

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...


The pineapple tarts look so good. But I have problem buying the cookies cutter. May I know where can I get the cookies cutter suitabke for pineapple tarts.


Oi Lin said...

Dear Wendy,
You can try buying pineapple tart cookie cutters from Phoon Huat stores (check location at or from Gim Hin Lee Pte Ltd (Blk 10, Haig Rd, 01-363, S430010, tel: 67428388)
Have great fun baking pineapple tarts!

Oi Lin

Happy Mrs Kwok said...

Hi Oilin,

I tried baking the pineapple tarts using your recipe. However, when I try to do the tangerine style, the tarts seems to crack. I wonder what happens? :(

Oi Lin said...

Dear Mrs Kwok,
If the tarts crack, it means that the dough is a bit dry. You can add a bit more egg to the dough to make it 'smoother' and easier to wrap.

Oi Lin

Anonymous said...

Hi Oi Lin

Can I use the Hong Kong flour instead of plain flour for the crust? I am hoping to achieve a more smooth and fine crust texture.

Any hints?

Thanks for your help Oi Lin.

Mrs Chen

Himura said...

Hello! I enjoyed your videos and notes on how to make pineapple tarts. I would like to try making them this week. Can I know how long can homemade pineapple tarts last?


Oi Lin said...

Hi Himura,
Homemade pineapple tarts don't usually last very long - about 2 weeks.
Do try making the tarts!

Anonymous said...

Hi Oilin,

Just windering... have you tried a recipe working on a simplier version, meaning eg. 250g butter (1 block) instead of an odd measurement that requires weighing, and it works wells with another absolute flour ratio using cups, etc?

Also, your recipe in your 1st cookbook includes cornflour while here in the above recipe it doesn't. Can do without?

My tarts turn out loose. In hokkien, it's "sang". It's not crumbly. It can be held well. Just that when you eat it, you can't really taste the pastry.

Any thoughts? ThanZ!

vien said...

Thanks for this wonderful recipe. The tarts are really good. I followed everything to the T.


Oi Lin said...

Hi, Yes, I do know what you mean, using the 250g weightage of butter as a starting point. My more recent recipes now use that as a starting point so there is no need to weigh the butter, since more most butter comes in blocks of 250g. But thanks for the suggestion and feedback. I will bear that in mind when writing future recipes.
Yes, you can omit the cornflour. The purpose of cornflour is to soften the plain flour, to make the tarts more melt-in-the-mouth. But without it, the tarts taste the same but maybe slightly less soft.
If you can't taste the pastry, you can try baking it longer till the fragrance of the butter and flour comes out.