Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Flaky Egg Tarts

If you are a Dim Sum lover, you will recognise these delectable tarts and if you frequent the Dim Sum restaurants, you will know that these tarts disappear fast.  If you do not ask the waitress to reserve some when they are out of the oven, you will not have any.  You must be wondering why, after so many years of baking, it is only now that i am posting these egg tarts.  I have to admit that these tarts are one of the most difficult of all the bakings i have baked.  It was quite challenging and the family had been eating the not so pretty products, they tasted good but just not presentable.  One would think that the recipe was at fault but no, it was me, not that proficient - first the pastry had to be mastered - good rolling skills and patience needed.  The best part of these tarts was the flaky pastry, it has to be flaky of course, although the custard had to br right too.  This marriage will be in a very rough situation and not very forgiving if not worked properly.  To make this marriage work, the thickness of the pastry had to be right, too thick - there will not be enough room for the custard, too thin - the flakiness in the pastry will not be effective. Docking the pastry was my greatest regret.  i must have poked too hard and the custard seeped through, making the tart impossible to remove from the mold.  Then the baking - know your oven - a hot oven to me worked best and baked these tarts at the last third of the rung in your oven, this will ensure that the pastry will get browned and the custard being further away from the top elements will not get cooked before the pastry.  Lower the heat after 15 minus to finish cooking the custard to perfection and this did not mean that the whole tray of tarts will be ready at the same time, uneven hot spots in the oven are to be blamed and this is a common fact.  You would have to remove the tarts accordingly and leave the uncooked ones to finish baking.  Accordingly means that the tarts with firm custard around the rim and will jiggle slightly in the middle,  are to be taken out of the oven.  When or if the custard in some of the tarts should puff. open the oven door to lower the oven temperature.  These tarts have to be baby-sat for the last part of the baking and they can be moved around for even baking - do not move them if the custard is not firm around the edges, otherwise another regret, the uncooked custard will spill over causing ????????.

Do not let this lengthy jabber hinder you from trying to bake some, just heed my advise and you will produce the most delicious tarts ever.


Lard Dough

4 ozs lard - melted and kept lukewarm
5 ozs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix the above ingredients and put it into a sandwich zip-loc bag.  Press dough flat to fit the bag, leaving about 3/4 - 1 inch away from the top. This will be about 5 x 6 inches.

Leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour.

Water Dough

6 ozs all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 ozs chilled butter - cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp iced water - more if flour is too dry

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.  Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients well.

Add in the cold cubed butter and pulse.  Pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Beat the egg yolk with the iced water and add in to the flour and butter mixture.  Pulse until a dough forms.  Add more water if necessary, some loose flour is fine.

Remove from food processor and put into a Gallon Zip-loc bag.  Flatten dough to fill the bag but roll the height to 8 inches only.  Leave in the fridge for gluten to relax for at least 1 hour.

Rolling the Pastry:

Take the water dough from the fridge and cut the gallon bag open.  Place dough onto to lightly flour surface and make a mark  the longer side into 3 equal parts.

Take the lard dough from the fridge and cut open the sandwich bag.  Place dough on to the middle of 2 equal parts of the water dough.  Fold the last equal part of the water dough over half of the lard dough and then fold the other half of the lard dough together with the water dough over.  Seal the edges well.
Let dough rest in the fridge for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Place dough with narrow side facing you,  using the rolling pin, press lightly at intervals to roll to a rectangular 8 x 10 inchs.  Fold bottom third of dough over and bring top third down.  Press narrow edges firmly to seal and cool in fridge for 30 minutes.  This is the FIRST rolling.

Repeat roll and 3 folds TWICE.  Cool in fridge after eaching rolling.

To line the Tarts: Moulds

Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Roll dough till 1/8 inch and using a round cutter which is 1/2 inch bigger than the circumference of the tart mould. Place the cut circle dough into the tart mold.  Try to center the dough to the center of the tart mould and press lightly on the sides to get impression from the fluted moulds.  Prepared tarts have to be chilled in the fridge for at least 1 hour before baking and at this stage, it can remain chilled for a day and if longer they have to be frozen - wrapped tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap.

To make the Custard:

8 ozs sugar
4 tbsps condensed milk
2 cups water
4 large eggs
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp custard powder mix with 1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine 2 cups water, condensed milk and sugar and cook till sugar dissolves and milk is heated through. 

Mix custard powder with 1 tbsp water and add in beaten eggs and vanilla extract.  Mix well.

Pour the hot milk sugar mixture gradually into the egg mixture and stir well.

Cook over low heat, stirring all the time, until the custard has thicken slightly but is still runny.  Instead of the stovetop, the microwave can be used, 1 minute at a time, stirring after every interval).  Sieve this mixture and allow to cool before using to prevent bubbles forming while baking.

To Bake Egg Tarts:

Preheat oven to 450f. 

Place chilled tarts onto a baking tray and pour custard into tarts, 80% full, do not overfill, regrets and regrets!!!!!!

Bake for 15 minutes on 450f and then reduce the oven temperature to 275f to continue baking for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the pastry is browned and the custard is cooked ( read notes on the top of page)

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