Just the other day while waiting in line to pay for some items I had picked up at a neighbourhood bakery, I spied a big jar of pineapple tarts sitting on the counter. A quick glance on the price tag left me reeling! S$26 for about 45-50 little tarts? Since when the humble pineapple tarts were alleviated to the status of high-price baked goods? These aren't some pastries which have names so foreign that I can’t even pronounce!
Rather than spend my time thinking about that last question, I decided it was time to work this pair of arms since I can't get the visions of those pineapple tarts out of my head and my itchy mouth waters every time that vision pops up.
If I had learnt anything at all about baking after all these years, it must be this one golden rule: Plan ahead! Baking is a process that greatly benefits from planning.
Here's what I mean:
Planning detail #15: Re-use the bowl used to prepare the egg yolk mix (i.e. egg yolks and vanilla essense) for water to mix into dough. Less one bowl to wash.
Planning detail #21: Lay out the plastic wrap to wrap the dough for chilling BEFORE rubbing in the butter. Less one hand washing session.
Planning detail #29: Roll out the pineapple tart fillings little balls to fit atop the pastry while waiting for dough to chill.
While my hands were busy rubbing in the butter and then rolling those tart fillings, I found my mind wondering about many things. Hubby frequently complained that he is having a hard time catching up with my vagrant mind.
Random thoughts #1: How can people do this for a living? What do they think about when their hands are busy? How many tarts can professional tart maker churn out in a day?
Random thoughts #2: How can people cook for people they don't even know about? Isn't cooking about pleasing others? How can you please others without even knowing anything about their food preference?
Random thoughts #3: How come my part-time cleaners can clean my house so well despite that they are fasting while I can't even accomplish 20% of what they did even with a full, or rather most of the time over-stuffed, stomach?
Random thoughts #4: Are we, home bakers of the tropics, doomed to a life of baking in air-conditioned rooms so that we don't melt before the butter does?
Random thoughts #5: How many tarts must one eat before one becomes so sick of it that one wouldn't ever go near another piece in one's life time? (I have no wish to find that out first hand.)
Random thoughts #6: How many designs of the tart mold are there in the market?
Random thoughts #7: Will anyone be willing to pay 60 cents for a pop of these buggers? (The answer is yes, if I am ever selling. And no, if I am buying..)
Random thoughts #8: Isn't it weird to make and eat pineapple tarts when it is not Chinese New Year?
Random thoughts #9: How many tarts should I give away to save my waist line?
Random thoughts #10: Am I responsible for the eater's pleasure in munching these buggers or his/her future suffering at the dentist?
And by the time I put away the last batch of the cooled tarts ...
Possible ways to improve/modify taste of tarts:
1. Add zest from lemon which was juiced to the dough
2. Substitue milk for water in the dough
Possible ways to improve/modify the process of making tarts:
1. Roll the filling the day before, if you have fridge space.
2. Chill dough in as a disc rather than as a ball.
3. Finish baking before your cleaners start.
I am very sure that there were many more thoughts that went through my mind during the five-hour process, but I just can't recall anymore right now.
The recipe used here is the same one from Mrs Leong’s Festive Cooking book and you can find the details in my previous post on the same topic.
Now, I have to get them to my brother (whom I am beginning to suspect that he loves my pineapple tarts more than me) ASAP!