Category Archives: pies, tarts & other pastry

an understated kind of greatness

So it seemed that a little more than a month ago, I had promised that my first bake as an official missus would be a great one. It also appeared that I had somehow foreseen that the post-hiatus entries would possibly be non-baking related. Oh, how my heart is ridden with guilt as of now. Not that this bake isn’t great, mind you. Just that it’s not exactly mind-blasting (brownie points for those who caught the reference), and I shudder to hear sneering thoughts to the tune of i-can-do-that-with-my-eyes-closed, hence the disclaimer. And as for the highly curious who may not have been privy to my whereabouts the past month, feel free to drop by my photoblog for some shots.

Now on to the bake. Besides chocolate and cinnamon, another word that would almost always jump off any recipe page and grab me by my oven mitts would be ‘crumble’. Call it an obsession of sorts, but I’ve since perfected the art of adding a crumble to anything I could possibly lay my buttery fingers on. Add a crumble to anything, and you’ll have a dessert most people would find almost impossible to resist throwing their table manners off their Victorian-laced tablecloth for. And that to me spells the easiest and most fuss-free dessert not only suitable for any season (but fall, oh fall), the best part is its versatility to adapt to your primary choice of flavour, or in my case, whatever almost-gone-bad fruit I have. And while apple crumbles may not be ground-breaking, there is something much too comforting in having everyone just scoop out their own portions off the pan with their spoons. And in that split moment when you could actually taste the tang of the lemon bringing out the perfect tartness of the apples, interspersed with the warmth of cinnamon in every bite, you will come to realise that it might just be the most understated perfect bake after all.

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a tribute to my superhero

apple tart1i

It’s the first week of the fasting month, Ramadan, here in Singapore, and as always, baking takes a step back in my household during this month, while I concede to my kitchen maestro of a mother who fills up the dining table with dishes, both sweet and savoury.

I remember that even in my younger years, I’ve always marvelled at the fact that there will be a spread during iftar, our session for breaking fast, and it would almost always be executed single-handedly by the mother. And even in my half-eyed grogginess of waking up around 4 in the morning for our pre-dawn meal, sahur (suhoor), a part of me looks forward to seeing a fresh new array of dishes on the table, along with the six different warm glasses lined up by the kitchen counter (the drink of the morning would alternate between tea and Milo, a malted chocolate drink) waiting for my siblings and I.

I pretty much have always thought that my mother was quite the superhero.

Until now, that is.

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of tarts, an award and a bake sale

It has almost been a week into Ramadan, yet today was the first that I actually brought something to the dining table for iftar, the meal we have at sundown to mark the end of the day-long fast. A typical iftar at our place usually comprises of a main dish prepared by the mother (noodles or rice), and several small bites on the side, such as sweet or savoury Malay kueh, or sandwiches of sorts. We normally have only one or two varieties of small bites, but end up with quite a few varieties on the table by iftar, thanks to the food exchanging culture we have amongst the neighbours and other family members.

The mother had been busy preparing all sorts of kueh and dishes for the past few days, so when she finally headed out to fetch the sister and the two nieces who were staying over for the weekend, I scrambled to contribute a lil something for iftar. Something sweet, hassle-free, and instant.

Enthralled and inspired by HHB’s use of instant prata to make sausage prata rolls, I made a batch of Portuguese egg tarts this afternoon using frozen instant prata. I loved the idea of using instant prata akin to frozen puff pastry, and thought it was a great way to use up the remaining packet of instant prata we had stowed away in the fridge.

Truth be told, I never had portuguese egg tarts before, but have heard of numerous raves from those who swear by them. I’m not a big fan of egg custard desserts, so I had my apprehensions; that it would be too eggy for my taste. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with apprehensions, as the family clearly had their doubts about the instant prata bit. These puffed little nuggets of egg custard, however, proved to be worth the try.

The prata puffed up to a flaky and crispy crust, while the egg custard caramelised at the sweet surface, hiding a layer of soft yet not runny filling. Next time though, I would be sure to fill the cups more so that they encase the top of the puff pastry even more. I knew that the filling would rise and puff up into literal balls in the oven, thereafter sinking upon cooling to give the characteristic sunken caramelised look, but mine turned out too shallow to even look half as pretty as those out in stores. These received the thumbs up from the household, and I foresee myself turning to this simple and instant sweet bites again in the near future.

(Recipe at the end of this post)

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if life were peaches & cream

You know those times when your mind’s thinking of what feels like a thousand and one things concurrently, and the irony lies in the fact that you can’t begin to pinpoint even a single issue that’s playing in your head at the moment?

Well I’m having one of those right now. For the last hour or so, to be exact.

The only difference is that I know just the things that are plaguing my head right now; issues, questions, trepidations, and anxieties of sorts, but somehow or other, the mind simply refuses to think of each one at a given point in time, instead opting for the-more-the-merrier type of approach.

This would be one of those times when my MSN caption would usually aptly read “I wish life came with an instruction manual”, but surprisingly, not tonight. Because, you see, life need not be that complex, afterall.

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lemon-giving life

As a child, I was never that big a fan of citrus. Sure I enjoyed how the whole room would be filled with the fresh scent of my dad peeling oranges for the younger me, marvelling at the fact that the house felt like it was filled with sunshine. Yes, somehow I always associated oranges with the sunniest of days. Must be a subconscious effect of one of those bright sunshiny Sunkist ads I always used to watch on television. Other times I’d be busying myself with all things supersweet and sugar-laden, and oranges, limes and lemons would be mere nouns listed under the list of fruits that I could draw without reference.

It’s only recently that I have been acquainted with citrus fruits, particularly with regard to refreshing lemon/lime drinks that make this sweltering heat more bearable. But with the amount of delightful lemon recipes out there, it had certainly made it difficult for me to not scratch the itch of curiosity and thereafter, I found my dabble with lemon in baking much easier. And while I may not be all ready to jump on the citrus bandwagon just yet, I am taking little baby steps by infusing other flavours alongside them.   

For those who actually thought I had baked key lime pies/tarts, sorry to disappoint you. This is actually a modification of a tart recipe I found, which called for a normal tart base filled with lemon curd. Since I did not have lemon curd at hand, I decided to flavour the tart itself with lemon and fill the tart with creamy Kaya jam, a coconut-based jam flavoured with pandan leaves.

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my tropical paradise

When Mary asked, in the latest SHF event, what our ideal tropical paradise would be like, I knew mine would definitely be with specks of white sand between my toes, with the shadows of 45-degree coconut trees painted before me, swaying in the gentle breeze. And since I can’t lose myself in the blue skies of Palawan beach, complete with the stray peacocks in their myriad of colours walking my path, I opt for the easier form of escapism.

A slice of this pie is sure to send you packing for your tropical fantasy, even while it’s still in the oven. The smell of the coconut pie shell promises something decadent and refreshing. The crust is rich with dessicated coconut, and the mashed peaches provide the right sweet balance you need for the extra crunchy bits of coconut. This is one of those comfort foods I can never turn down, even after a heavy meal.

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huff and puff

I was initially concerned about how much this recipe yielded. That was before I remembered how much this household loves their puffs. There is just something about these clouds of cream that makes it insanely impossible to walk away with merely one in the mouth. I initially had plans of diversing the filling; some would be filled with cream patisserie, while others would be filled with something else. But due to time constraints (I only started baking in the evening, which explains the poor photography), I decided that variants would have to come another day.

This was the first time I worked with choux pastry, and even though some people consider it a hassle, I believe that it’s an essential to homebakers, since the choux pastry is highly versatile. Fill it with cream patissserie like I did, and you get highly addictive lil cream puffs. Fill it with whipped cream and dipped with chocolate, and you get dreamy profiteroles. Fill it with ice-cream, and you get sinful ice cream profiteroles. Pipe it in a long strip, fill it with cream (cream patisserie/whipped cream) and adorn the top with melted chocolate, and you get enticing chocolate eclairs.

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