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Pineapple tarts with homemade jam

Original recipe from Nasi Lemak Lover

Chinese New Year is approaching and pineapple tarts are a must. Well, they are a favourite all year round, but especially so during this special season.Being away from home and nowhere to buy them here except in London which would then cost a lot a lot, I’ve decided to make them myself. Everyone else seems to be making them anyway so it can’t be too difficult,

Made 2 batches on 2 separate occasions, and although not as pretty as many other bakers’, I am very pleased with my result and certainly enjoy eating them! My friends liked them very much too, so I’d say its a success. Only problem being that they will be finished before the actual Chinese New Year this Saturday!

Makes: ~ 30 pieces
Ingredients for pastry:
175g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
50g sweet condensed milk
1 egg yolk
250g plain flour

Homemade pineapple jam filling: see recipe here.

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp milk

Method:
1. Cream them butter with condensed milk till creamy.
2. Add in the egg yolk and continue to stir.
3. Add the flour in small batches, stirring after each addition to get a smooth dough.
4. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30min if it is too soft.
5. Roll of the dough, cut into small pieces and roll each piece into a ball about half the size of a golf ball. Do this for all the pieces before proceeding to the next step.
6. Flatten a piece of the dough to about 5mm, add half a teaspoon of pineapple jam to the center of the dough.

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7. Wrap the dough around the jam and place the baking paper on a baking tray.

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8. When all the tarts have been wrapped, glaze the top with egg yolk/milk glaze.

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9. Bake in a preheated fan oven at 165 deg C, middle shelf for about 23 – 25min.

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Homemade pineapple jam

I remember that my parents used to make pineapple jam, that was when I was about 5 to 7 years old, when our family lived in Subang. In those years my parents seemed to have a more chilled life, they made bread and cakes and jam and noodles at home. My mum used to make a special cake with jelly and we loved it but has never made it since we moved to Sg  about 24 (!) years ago… Anyway, we used to have the pineapple jam on toast, my parents didn’t make pineapple tarts. Actually I can’t remember having them during Chinese New Year when I was still in Malaysia…now it is a must in Sg/Msia to have pineapple tarts.

I have tried making pineapple jam once a few years ago including peeling the pineapples… In Asia you could pay the ‘uncle’ a small fee to peel them for you, I’d happily do that! Here in UK, even if I offered double the amount nobody would do it for me, in fact they might even get offended! So I have to do it myself …. After the last time I did it I said never again. But this year, I really would like to have some pineapple tarts…so I have to make my own jam etc. Actually, it isn’t so difficult.

Ingredients:

2 pineapples – I could only get them from Waitrose so I dont know the specific type. Weight after peeling about 1.6kg

350g caster sugar – i think this can be reduced a little, maybe to 300g. The pineapples were ‘supersweet’ variety, so could be for this reason that the jam ended up being a little too sweet.

1 small cinnamon stick

Method:
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1. Peel pineapples

2. Cut into chunks and blend well.
3. (optional step) In batches, microwave at high power at 2 minutes pulses 3  times per batch. I wanted to help the water evaporating. Not sure if this step actually  made any difference.
4. Pour blended pineapple into a big pot with large surface area.
5. Add cinnamon stick and cook at medium heat. Stir only every once in a while.

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NOTE: THE PINEAPPLE PUREE/JUICE WILL SPLAT and SPLASH. So be careful not to let them splat on you.
6. When the jam has been reduced to about 50-60% of original, add sugar and stir. The blend now becomes more watery again.

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7. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally. Cook till you get a thick porridge consistency and the jam is a nice dark honey colour.

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8. Remove from heat, cool a little and pack into jars.
NOTE: The jam will continue to caramelise in the hot pot. Stir occasionally.

Keep jam in the fridge – Use it for pineapple tarts or spreading on bread.

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After 4 hrs plus of work, this was all I got! But it was worth it 🙂

 

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Easy tomato sweetcorn soup

Decided to make a really simple dinner to share with housemate — tomato sweetcorn soup.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 can Cirio plum tomatoes
1 cup frozen sweetcorn kernels
3 shallots roughly sliced
1/2 can water
1 sprig fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Grated parmigiana grana padano

Cooking time: 20 min

1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a pot. Add shallots and fry till soft.
2. Add sweetcorn and fresh thyme. Fry for about 5 – 8 min.
3. Add tomatoes, chilli powder and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 – 20min.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Remove the thyme stems. Blend half or more of the soup till smooth, depending on how chunky you prefer.
6. Add grated parmigiana grana padano and serve with toasted bread.

I added sausage slices to the soup but just because I had some.

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Sweet potato chocolate muffins

I have always liked making muffins, and eating them.. So fragrant and soft, and as far as I’m concerned, healthy enough to be eaten everyday. They don’t contain as much sugar and fats as cakes, so surely they are healthy! I remember there was (still is I hope) a small no-fuss muffin bakery at Tanjong Pagar in Singapore whose muffins were big and smells so good and extremely tasty, even after 2 – 3 days. The queue during lunchtime was always long and the customers never just bought 1 or 2 muffins, but at least half a dozen!

I have seen more cakes and bakes recipes these days incorporating vegetables to give moisture and natural sweetness; I like the idea, especially if it means reducing the use of refined sugar.

I came across this recipe from Eat Love Eat and have since tried it a few times; its really good. I’ve adapted it a little to reduce the sugar further so that the sugar and health conscious can enjoy without worrying too much about their sugar levels!

Recipe adapted from Eat Love Eat

INGREDIENTS
Makes 12 – 15 large muffins
  • 150 g (5 ounces) dark chocolate (min 52% cocoa solids, 70% would be better)
  • 75 g (5 tablespoons) butter
  • 250 g (1 cup)boiled and mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium), mash without liquid (save the liquid)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 125ml (1/2 cup)  liquid from boiling the sweet potato
  • 60g – 75g  (or 15 teaspoons) soft light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 30 g (4 tablespoons) cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 150 g (5 ounces) dark chocolate chunks/chips

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line muffin tins with muffin cases.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda, salt and cocoa powder.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and roughly chop into big chunks. Boil in water till soft, with just enough water to cover the sweet potatoes.
  4. Place chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally. When all are melted, remove from the heat.
  5. Using a hand blender, blend the sweet potatoes till smooth.
  6. In a large bowl,beat the eggs and add the milk, vanilla essence and sugar. Mix well.
  7. Add the beaten eggs/milk/sugar to the mashed potatoes. Pulse with the hand blender till just mixed. Add the melted chocolate/butter and blend till all are well mixed.
  8. Make a small well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.
  9. Use a wooden spoon or spatula and fold the wet ingredients with dry. Stop folding when all the flour have been incorporated with the wet ingredients.
  10. Scoop a tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup, then add a few drops of chocolate chunks/chips. Add more batter and fill the muffin cup to about 3/4 full.
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes.
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Cheddar cheese sage scones

I’m going to visit Italy and my other half’s parents tomorrow, and I’ve been trying to make something nice for them that I can bring across borders. Finally decided to make some cheese and sage scones, I’ve made them in the past and really like them. Also, there’s no sugar added so that should be ideal. Hope they like them 🙂

Ingredients:
Makes 5 medium-big scones

1 cup self-raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
ground black pepper
25g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp wholegrain mustard sauce
45-50ml full cream milk
1 small egg, beaten (save 1 Tbsp for glazing)
50g cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 Tbsp sage (I used dry sage but fresh would be good)

Glaze:
1 Tbsp beaten egg + 1 Tbsp milk
Grated cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 220 deg C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

1. Sift flour, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl.
2. Rub butter into flour until they resemble bread crumbs.
3. Add cheddar cheese to the flour and mix briefly.
4. In a small bowl mix the milk, mustard sauce and egg.
5. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Add the milk/mustard sauce/egg and incorporate all together to form a soft smooth dough. This should take only up to 5 minutes. Do not overmix as the heat from hands will cause the cheese to melt.
6. Roughly roll the dough into a cylinder and cut into 5 portions, each about 2 cm thick.
7. Place dough on the baking tray, gently flatten.
8. Brush with glaze, top with grated cheese.
9. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the top is golden brown. The scones are done when they sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.

Best eaten warm! Because of the cheese and sage, they already taste good on their own.

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Pandan Chiffon Cake

I love pandan chiffon cake, but I only realised I love it after I have left Singapore for a few years. Pandan is one of those flavours that is so common that the locals always know it and yet never really think about it. At least for me that was the case. Now that I am away, I am crazy about it. Never would I have thought of making my own pandan extract from the leaves if I were still home!

Pandan waffles at Prima Deli, slices of pandan chiffon cake at bakeries, pandan kuih… they’re so common at home and I have never thought to learn to make them until now. In particular, I have a strong desire to learn to make pandan chiffon cake — One because its pandan; most westerners don’t know what pandan is and hence makes it even more uniquely South east asian. I have since learnt that pandan is screwpine, which I am sure many other Sgporeans already know….
Secondly it is because it’s chiffon cake. You don’t get chiffon cakes here in English/European cafes and bakeries…most of my colleagues don’t know what they are.

After many tries and failures making chiffon cakes, I have finally made a  pandan chiffon cake. I adapted from Jo the tart queen’s recipe

Ingredients:
Makes 1 x 23 cm cake

Group A – sift together
1 cup plain flour + 2 Tbsp cornflour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Group B
6 egg yolks (**small – medium eggs)
3 Tbsp caster sugar

Group C
Pandan extract (as thick as possible) + coconut milk to a total of 180ml
40ml vegetable oil

Group D (meringue)
6 egg whites (ensure bowl is clean and dry)
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (or cream of tartar)
4 Tbsp caster sugar

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C
2. Whisk yolks + sugar till pale and foamy.
3. Add group C and whisk briefly.
4. Sift group A into the yolk batter; alternate between sifting and whisking.
5. Using an electric beater, beat egg whites at low speed until foamy.
6. Add white wine vinegar, beat few seconds.
7. Add caster sugar gradually, alternate between adding and beating.
8. Beat at medium – high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
9. Add 1/3 of meringue to yolk batter and stir to mix.
10. Add another 1/3 and fold till all whites are incorporated.
11. Add the rest of the meringue and fold. Ensure no more white streaks can be seen.
12. Gently pour into the chiffon tin.
13. Tap the tin firmly on the kitchen top 2 – 3 times to remove big air bubbles.
14. Bake in the oven for 1 hr.(** I loosely covered the top with aluminium foil throughout – the foil should be removed at the end to allow the top to get brown.)
15. When completed, take out of the over and invert over a funnel immediately. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from the tin.

Result:
Faintly fragrant, quite soft and fluffy, just right sweetness – I am pretty happy with this although it is still not quite like the chiffon cake from bakeries! I should have removed the aluminium tent in the last 10min to allow the heat to get to the top. Also my cake is not so green as I didn’t use any pandan paste or commercial extract. It would be better to get thick pandan extract and done so directly with coconut milk but my extract was obtained previously with water and frozen so they weren’t thick at all. My friend said it tasted too eggy to her so perhaps I should also use 5 yolks 6 whites like the original recipe, or rather following the weight of the egg yolks and whites.

Perhaps the next chiffon cake will be finally perfect!