Thursday, 22 January 2009

A Taste of Yesteryear

Just like the past couple of years, weeks before the Chinese lunar new year, I started looking up recipes to bake for the occasion. I have in mind to make some peanut cookies, kueh bangkits and my kids' favourite horlicks doogies cookies.

Pineapple tarts are never on my to-do list. Every year, I let it pass, as the thought of making the pineapple jam from scratch really, really puts me off. I am never good at anything that has got to do with the stove...and the homemade jam will easily take 2 hours of non-stop stirring and cooking, not forgetting the effort and time spent on cutting up fresh pineapples and grating them. Phew!


Things started to change after reading Small Small Baker's post on 'Looking for Pineapple Tart Recipes'. Then, after some exchange of emails with fellow blogger pals, Elyn and Yuri, I was convinced that ready-made jams are actually not too bad. At least I could try my hands with making the pastry and if it didn't turn out well, the effort spent on making the jam would not be gone to waste. After reading up reviews on the various store-bought jams, I narrowed down my choice to this brand "Bake King". Next, it was another daunting task to look for the 'right' recipe to make the pastry. There are so many types of recipes available...they look rather similar, and yet there are little differences...be it the amount of ingredients, or the little extras such as custard powder, milk powder, etc. To make things even more confusing to me, there is this Rub-in method vs Creaming method; and whether the recipes would yield crispy tarts or melt-in-the-mouth pastry! Finally (actually this is still not the final decision), I almost settled on this stack of recipes which I have photocopied long time ago...they were taken from the Female magazine, the January 1998 issue.

Well, The story didn't just end here. Somehow, by chance, while discussing with my siblings, what are the dishes to prepare for our CNY dinner, I got hold of our very old pile of recipes. You know, those old recipes that were handwritten in old exercise books? I got hold of two of them...and one of those booklets was my personal copy. I have copied down some recipes in an old note book (the first few pages were my school notes...my 3rd year subjects on 'Dynamics of Machines'!), and the recipes were dated January 1994, I bet that was the last time I wrote anything on that note book.

These old recipes have brought back so much fond memories of those yesteryear when we would help mum with all the Chinese New Year baking...be it kueh bangkit, pineapple tarts, butter cookies, kok-chai...spending hours painstakingly making them from scratch. During that few nostalgic moments, I decided that I should make it a challenge to recreate the taste of those goodies we made in the past. The top on the list is our pineapple tart recipe.


This is my first attempt at making pineapple tarts after a very long break, it was almost two decades ago since I last made them. I have only a very vague memory what was involved. After spending three hours on these cookies, they didn't taste as good as they look. I could have over baked them, causing the jam to turn hard and dry. The pastry was also too crispy...well, they were nothing close to those we had.


Fortunately, I also made these closed type of pineapple tarts. I have never made them before, as in the past, all pineapple tarts were the open-type. Since the jam was wrapped inside the dough, it was kept moist and I have also shorten the baking time.


After consulting my baking pal, Elyn, I made the second batch yesterday. Thanks to her tips, I omitted the egg white that was called for in the original recipe. This results in a much softer dough, no wonder, it was more difficult to cut out the dough with the mould as compared to the first trial. The resulting pastry was very soft, crumbly, very fragile and really melts-in-your-mouth. Half way packing the finished cookies into a container, I accidentally knocked if off! I ended up with tarts on the floor, piles of crumbles and the tarts were beyond recognition...if you have also spent hours making these, you will know why I was almost in tears :'(

To tackle the issue of dried jam, I rolled the jam into small balls with a pair of wet hands. I then placed them on a tray which was filled with a small amount of water. The purpose was to let the jam soak up some extra moisture to prevent it from drying during baking. I also experimented with baking the tarts for 10 mins before adding the jam. After which I let them bake for another 10mins. This time, the jam remains soft after baking!


With proper planning, I could even make those signature criss-cross patterns. I am very happy with this batch of pineapple tarts. They are much much better than those from the first trial. Even for those closed type, I was able to wrap the same amount of jam with less dough. Although the taste of the ready-made jam is acceptable, I really hope I will be able to make my own homemade jam next year. Until then, this is the closest I could recreate the delightful taste from our nostalgic recipes. Thank you for spending your time to read this very much long winded post :)


Pineapple Tarts (refer here for updated recipe)

Ingredients
(portion is enough to make 55 open and 20 closed tarts)

8oz (227g) butter, soften at room temperature
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
14oz (396g) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Method
  1. With an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream butter till the mixture turns pale. Add in the vanilla essence and whisk to combine.
  2. Dribble in the egg yolks and continue to whisk the mixture till fully incorporated.
  3. Sift in the flour and salt into the mixture. Mix the mixture with your hand and gather to form a rough dough. Transfer to a work surface and lightly knead the dough for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30mins. (This will prevent the dough from spreading, and makes it easier to handle.)
  5. Mean while, roll ready-made pineapple jam into small balls, about 1 teaspoon each. To measure the amount of pineapple jam, place a small sheet of cling wrap/plastic sheet over a measuring spoon (1 teaspoon), pack it with the jam to the brim and release with the cling wrap. (To prevent the ready-made jam from drying out during baking, roll the jam with wet hands. Wet your hands when they become dry after some rolling. Place the pineapple balls on a plate/tray filled with some water, just enough for the base of the balls to touch the water. This will allow the jam to soften and soak up some moisture.)
  6. Remove dough from fridge. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 5~7mm thick. (To prevent dough from sticking to the rolling pin, place a plastic sheet or a sheet of parchment paper over the dough before rolling.)
  7. Cut out the dough with the tart mould and transfer to baking tray, lined with parchment paper. (To get very clear imprints, place both the outer ring and the inner piece of the mould on the roll out dough. Press the outer ring into the dough then push down the inner piece with some force. Lift up the mould and carefully remove the cut out dough which is stuck to the mould. Dust the mould with flour regularly for easy release.)
  8. Bake in the middle rack position, at 180 degC for 10 mins. Remove from oven and place pineapple paste on each tart base. To decorate, you can either top it with a tiny ball of dough or cut out thin strips of dough and lay over the top of the pineapple paste.
  9. Return to oven and continue to bake for another 5 ~ 10mins. Leave to cool on baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack. Let cool before storing in air-tight containers.

67 comments:

  1. HHB, sorry to read that your cookies turn into piles on the floor! "HUGZ"

    You pineapples tarts looks really good! Drool!

    I shall try it out next year.

    Happy Lunar New Year to you & family!

    Fiona

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  2. Those tarts look amazing. Have a wonderful new year :)

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  3. HHB, your pineapple tarts look so pretty! I still have pineapple paste left too. Can't wait to try out your modified recipe.

    Wish you and your family an Ox-picious New Year! :)

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  4. WOw..these realli look great and prof!!!!! It's really very good..... With all the effort done.. I am sure these are the best ever pineapple tarts for your family....

    Wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!!!!

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  5. Happy Ox year to you and yr family!

    I've yet to start on my pineapple tarts! But yes, it's on the cards, so just have to get myself moving. Yours looks great, esp when you get great advice from the pineapple tarts guru, Eyln. :P

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  6. Your pineapple tarts look perfect!

    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I tried to make them once ages ago but cutting the dough out was so frustrating I gave up. I'll definitely give this a shot when I find some time.

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  7. Hi, your tarts looks nice :-) I'm inspired to make some for this CNY. I wanted to make some for CNY this year but till today i haven't because just thinking of cooking the jam...puts me off..hahaha...

    i will attempt to make some & use your recipe. let's see how it goes then. thanks.

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  8. Hi HHB,

    your pineapple tarts look gorgeous.

    I can totally understand your agony when your pineapple tarts ended up on the ground! Because, the same happened to me!!

    Btw, I realise your recipe doesn't use sugar. Maybe I would try it out next yr =p

    Happy CNY!

    regards,
    youfei

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  9. haha my mother always told me if making the 'open' tarts, must bake the base halfway first, then put on egg wash and the pineapple ball, and finish baking.

    and you could try making the pineapple paste; my mother makes them from scratch, and you can always freeze excess for almost indefinitely.

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  10. Wow, equally nice pineapple tarts ... but the long instructions made me think twice about trying it out .. this newbie here never improves. Let me conquer the easy peanut cookies first.

    Happy New Year to you and your family.

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  11. HI HHB

    wow, u deserve a pat on your back for your perseverance! unlike u, i think i'll give up if i don't succeed the first time round! don't think i will be making pineapple tarts in the near future, too much work...but i will be making some desserts like water chestnut cake (today) and some jelly tomorrow...a bit apprehensive since i have never made them before...wish me luck:) may you and your family have a very happy and prosperous yr of the ox!
    regards
    octopusmum

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  12. Hey HHB, you did it! Great job ... I have yet to finish baking p tarts, luckily there's still 2 days this week to do it :P

    Here's wishing you a happy niu2 year.

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  13. Hi HHB,

    Your pineapple tarts look gorgeous!

    I also use Bake King pineapple paste, not bad, quite home-made like though I find it a bit dry too. What i did was add some pineapple juices and lemon juices (lemon juice is to make it more sour to my liking) and it tasted as as good as the home-made one.

    This is my first time baking pineapple tarts, I did the closed type like urs with a clove on top.

    http://angelaphua.multiply.com

    Wishing you a prosperous and Happy CNY!!

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  14. these look smashingly delightful! those are time consuming, eh? happy chinese new year HBB!

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  15. Wow, your tarts blew me away. Very neat and nice leh. haha I can never make such nice pineapple tarts. Thanks for sharing :)

    Here is me and my Piggies wishing you and family " a very
    Happy, Healthy and
    Propserous New Year "

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  16. Hi Happy Homebaker,

    Your pineapple tarts look really lovely and yummy. Can i ask if the tangerine closed typed pineapple tarts crust peels easily? I tried a similar recipe using the creaming method and the outer layer of the crust peels off easily and sticks to the hands. During baking the crust also cracks but closes back upon cooling. the texture of the crust is crumbly and powdery and it sticks to the mouth easily.

    zy

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  17. Hi HHB,
    You did it, great job! Your pineapple tarts look so gorgeous!

    Yes, you should do your own homemake jam next year & i have strong believe with you and you will love it very much once you did it.

    I gone through that. My first baking i used the Redman ready used pineapple jam, it turned out hard and a bit too sweet my aunt and frends. I felt upset but i just can't wait to try out my homemake jam & finally i did it after the 2nd trial.

    Try it & you will love it. Cheer.

    Happy New Year
    Jessie

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  18. Wishing you and your family Happy Chinse New year ^^

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  19. Dear all, thanks for all you encouraging words and lovely comments :)

    Hi SSB, do let me know after you have tried it...hope you will like it :)

    Hi Youfei, so I'm not the only clumsy one around ;p
    Yes, there is no sugar. However, it also means it can be difficult to estimate the baking time as the pastry will not brown so easily :(

    Hi Let's maska, thanks for the tip!
    I've read about it in your blog :)

    Hi Baking Librarian, the crust of my tangerine style tarts does not peel off...could it be due to your egg glaze? They do have small cracks on the surface though, and I think they dont stick to the mouth...may be it's because I usually pop the whole thing into my mouth?!

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  20. HHB

    Your pineapple tarts look wonderful, but if I may, this is my secret of making pineapple jam - a microwave.

    First I cut the pineapple into chucks, keep the core as well and bunk it into the food processor. Then once everything has been processed, you can either use a muslin cloth to squeeze out the juice or using a sieve to sieve out excess juice.
    Then place the strained pineapple pulp into a glass bowl and put into the microwave for 10 mins each time. Add sugar to taste. My version takes about 30 mins to cook.

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  21. wow i think your pineapple tarts look so lovely! so many dif versions. the ones i make (first attempt) is the usual one with a ball on top :)

    i really love your pics and presentation :)

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  22. Hi,
    Can I know whether you apply egg wash on the tarts. I had made once with another recipe with egg wash and I don't really like the colour( like brownish, dirty look ). What do you think? Hope u reply me early as I need to make another batch. Thanks.

    Also, which brand of butter are you using?

    Happy Moo Year to you !

    Queen Butter

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  23. Happy CNY SH! Though it's been long since u made pineapple tarts, they sure look lovely and yummy. =) Hope you and ur family have a blessed year ahead.

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  24. WOW! WOW! WOW! When I look at the pineapple tarts you made, I can just only utter these 3 words ;p Really look very prof and yummilious...Thks for sharing the recipe.

    Wishing you and your family a Happy "Niu"(牛ox)Year!!

    Rgds
    Esther

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  25. Hi Queen Butter, I don't use egg wash for the open type, I only use egg wash (egg yolk diluted with some water) for the close-up type. I try with various types of butter...NTUC, house brand, Golden Churn, and SCS (sliver wrapper). I like the SCS butter.

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  26. Hi HHB!

    Haa when my bf was beside me reading your blog, he was also amzed by your pineapple tarts. He said all seems to have undergone ISO check! Haha, all the tarts have so precise, in terms of the print and size!

    Happy New Year to you and your family! :)

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  27. Keeshia :))25/1/09 6:25 pm

    You're so blessed both on baking and taking pictures.

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  28. Hi,

    Thanks for your prompt reply, I'm rushing to make another batch now.
    Happy holidays.

    Queen butter

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  29. Hi, your pineapple tarts looks delicious! I would definitely try them next year around. Hehe.. my tarts never look as great as yours...

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  30. Hi,
    I have tried using your method to make the jam more moist ( add some water), it works!!!!!!! So happy !!
    It solved my problem of dried jam which made me very frustrated.

    However, I placed the pineapple jam right from the moment I put the tart in the oven and it turned out fine.

    Thanks again.

    Regards,
    Queen Butter

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  31. Hi Queen Butter, it's great to hear that it works for you too :)
    I was also very happy when the jam didn't dry up! Yes, I also tried baking one tray of tarts with the jam right from the beginning...as my recipe doesn't has any sugar in it, and I omit the egg glaze, I tend to overbake the tarts since they don't brown easily...I baked that tray for about 25mins, and the jam was a little dry compared to the rest. Those with jam added after 10mins of baking were fine.

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  32. gosh your pineapple tarts look so lovely and delicious.. you have really gone thru a lot of perseverance in this cookie. there's a lot of love in those cookie, surely it tasted even better.

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  33. Hi HHB, may I know if the recipe for the close type is the same as the one you've posted?

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  34. Hi Huiqi, yes it's the same recipe.

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  35. HappyHomeBaking,

    I could have kissed you. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have baked these p/tarts twice already using your recipe. Simply devine, as my friends said. Here's a pix of my fruits of labour. I made the jam myself as ready-made jam is not available here. Thank you again.
    http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k206/natasya_03/Ptarts.jpg

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  36. Hi Natasya, I am so glad to hear that you have great success with this pineapple tart recipes!! I will probably learn how to make my own pineapple jam next year :)

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  37. May I know what flour should we use for making the pineapple tart dough? Plain flour or cake flour? Thinking of trying out yr receipe after seeing so many good comments//

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  38. Hi HHB,

    Can you recommend the brand of pineapple paste you have tasted so far that is not so sweet and good.

    Thanks

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  39. Hi, so far I have tried "Bake King", it is not too sweet (to me) but it really depends on personal taste.

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  40. Hi HHB,

    I tried your recipe, it's not bad according to my family but it crumble easily when lifted up.

    Any solutions to this ?

    Hope to try another batch this weekend.

    Cheers
    Ling

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  41. Hi Ling, yes, the 'open-type' of tarts tend to crumble easily. I have no problems with the closed type though.
    To avoid this problem, make sure the butter is not overly soft (appears glossy and greasy) when you cream it. If you prefer a firm texture, you can experiement with 1 full egg and 1 egg yolk...as egg whites will harden the cookies. I am sorry, I am no expert in baking pineapple tarts, I am still experiementing with the recipes. I'm sorry that this recipe did not lived up to your expectations :'(

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  42. Hi HHB,

    Dun say that, I'm very satisfied as no sugar used for this recipes. Juz that my hubby was saying before he can taste it, it went straight down to his throat as it melts easily.
    Thanks for your suggestion, I thought of adding corn starch as well.

    Cheers have a nice weekend.
    Ling

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  43. Hi Ling, thanks for the assurance ^_^
    I feel disappointed whenever my recipes didn't well, especially for this particular one as it was adapted from my mum's recipe. Yes, you can try adding corn starch, or try baking them longer. Hope your next batch will be beter. I will be baking a batch in two weeks time...will be giving them to my sibling who is living overseas. I am keeping my fingers crossed that mine will be ok, wish me luck ;)

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  44. Hola, me llamo Marijose, no sé inglés, pero me encanta este blog. Saludos desde España.

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  45. Hi HHB, have you found an even better pineapple tart recipe that you like? Will u be baking it anytime soon n posting it on the blog?
    May

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  46. Hi May, I won't be looking for other recipes, but will like to work on this same one (maybe add some sugar or corn flour) since it is the recipe that my mum used last time. I hope I am able to get down to work on it soon. I am thinking of making my own pineapple jam...so before I can get down to make the jam I wont be able to make the tarts, wish me luck!

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  47. The homemade pineapple jam will definitely taste much much better. I tried using the ready-made jam once but my choosy tongue just did not like it. I had made the jam last weekend and is going to make the tarts tomorrow. It is not so tough as you think. Try it out and you will definetely happy with the result. Happy Chinese New Year !

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  48. Hi HHB,
    I use your recipe and the tarts turned out wonderful. May I know do we need to wash and then dry the clove before use ?
    Thanks and Happy Chinese New Year !

    Bee

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  49. Hi Bee, I am glad this recipe works for you! Did you also try making the open-face type? Do you find it too crumbly? I have yet to make these!! Yes, I wash the cloves and dry then before using.

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  50. Hi, A big thank-you for your prompt response. Actually, I find the pineapple jam and pastry harder for open-face type and think is due to my oven temperature. The closed type's pastry has great melt-in-your mouth effect.

    Bee

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  51. Hi Bee, this recipe works well for closed type.
    The jam could turn hard/dry if over baked. As for the pastry, it could be due to over working of the dough. As we need to cut out the pastry, roll/re-roll, the pastry base will turn hard. I didn't have problem with that, instead I find the open face pastry base too 'fragile'!

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  52. I tried ur recipe and they turned out really great!
    http://jollyobake.blogspot.com/
    love ur recipes! thanks (:

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  53. hi hhb, may i know how much dough you used for the closed type and pineapple jam? 1 tablespoon of dough with 1 tablespoon of jam okie? thanks for your help..:D

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  54. Hi, I used less than 1 tablespoon of dough, around half a tablespoon or 7.5ml. As for the filling, I use around 1 teaspoon. You can take a look at this video here to see how to wrap the dough: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eklVKLwTB5U&feature=related). By using this method of wrapping, you can use less dough to wrap the filling, and the tart will have a thinner crust/skin. Hope this helps.

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  55. Hi~ Just want let you know your recipe is great! I like how the way it just melts in ur mouth. Thanks for the recipe! :DD
    Happy Chinese New Year to you~ :)

    xoxo,
    Jen.

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  56. Hi! Any idea how to make the tarts more yellowish? I am trying to recreate the pineapple tarts my late grandma made for us when I was a kid. I remember her tarts as being buttery, and looks more yellowish. Can I add in 1 more egg yolk to your recipe? I am just a novice, and your blog has helped me a lot so far!! Many thanks in advance!

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  57. Hi Kai, I'm sorry, I am no expert in making pineapple tarts. I don't think you cannot simply add an extra yolk...very likely the texture of the tarts will be affected.

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  58. Hi hhb! Good to find your recipe :)) Will be trying it out soon:) noticed that your pastry do not have baking powder, is it essential to hv them? Whats the diff with & without baking powder?

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  59. Jmir, yes, no baking powder is required. Sorry, I do not know the difference, maybe, those with baking powder will expand more upon baking?

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  60. Hi, Tried ur recipe and turned out great! I added cinnamon and cloves. But the dough I only managed to make 45 open tarts. Maybe cuz I used top flour? Anyway thanks for the great recipe.

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  61. hi Jo, thanks for trying out this recipe :):)
    I dont think it is because of using top flour, maybe your tart mould is slightly bigger or the dough is thicker. Hope I can find time to bake these before the chinese new year!

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  62. Hi there I like u thank u for sharing yr reciepe! I use yr site for reference to cook for my kids.. Yr site is def v useful & helpful for sahm .. A million thanks

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  63. I love these pineapple tarts. I can't wait to try making these. But I wanted to know where I would be able to find the mold for the open tarts.

    -Marry

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  64. Mary, you can get the mold from Phoon Huat or Sun Lik.

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  65. Hey! it's been a while, just wanted to let you know that your picture is being used by this website http://plus.bigdeal.sg/ probably without your knowledge. Hm ... dunno wat's wrong with these pple?

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  66. Hi Elyn, thanks for the alert! I noticed they have used your photos too? Will inform bigdeal to get them to remove the photos. I have also noticed one of the CCs used my chicken pie photo on their flyers :(

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