February 16, 2009

It's about time I shared a recipe.

I know.. it's been awhile. Just hadn't found moments where I made food in good lighting! haha I must save enough to get proper studio lights one day. I really miss having the opportunity to photograph things and work on tweaking recipes. It used to be lots of fun mixing and matching scratch items from the pantry.
I often scoured for inspiration through works of up and coming chefs in magazine articles and great classic cookbook recommendations; but these days, it's all about Delectable and where it's headed. Sad isn't it? How you turn a passion or talent into a career; and then watch it slowly eat away the leisure freedom of it all. *laughs*
Though I've been hard at work; I've also been making an effort to rearrange my schedule to include fun baking and time-out sessions during the week. Sunday was spent with the family back home; mom was itching to use her brand new oven.
She goes "Yin! Bake a cake!"
I wasn't exactly in the mood to bake without my utensils and personal ingredients; so I crinkled my brow and made my way to the refrigerator to see what I could whip up instead. Shelves of Chinese New Year goodies greeted me as I swung open our chiller compartment. It's been at least a week since the festive hype has been over...and it's about time we did something with the gazillion mandarin oranges friends and family brought over. It's a cute little tradition we Chinese have. To gift each other mandarin oranges is a symbolic way of presenting fortune, gold and luck when you stop by for a visit. Now that my mom has ran out of friends to present fortune to; what do we do with all these left over 'gold'? Haha I told mom I'd bake... but I'd bake little citrus pies. *shrug* It might just work! Mandarin oranges and pineapple tart filling; a little bit of pastry cream.. a nice buttery crust. I figured I couldn't miss.

Crust: (enough for 10 mini pies)
1 1/4 cup ap flour
1/2 cup chopped cold butter
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp sugar
- just enough ice water for it to ball up (appx 1/2 cup)

Look! Mom had this cool little tool! I wasn't 100% certain if it was for this purpose; but I figured I made a pretty good guess. haha
Add first 4 ingredients in a large bowl and crumble together till it resembles rough peas. Make sure not to melt the butter in the process. You can use your fingers but try to work quickly and gently with the tips only; not your palms. Make a well and add water a little at a time; mixing gently just till it comes together like a soft dough. Remember not to over work it.
Cling wrap and allow to chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

While waiting; work on cream filling. ( I use this recipe for cream in most my fruit pies)
Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream) - fills 10-15 small tarts.
500g milk
1 vanilla bean/3 tsp vanilla extract
62.5 g sugar
2 yolks
1 egg
37.5g cornstarch
62.5 sugar
30g butter

Bring first 3 ingredients to a low simmer in a pot. Beat egg, yolks, cornstarch and second portion of sugar in separate bowl with a whisk. When milk is finally lightly bubbling; temper the egg mixture by pouring it in a slow thin stream into the whipped eggs; whipping constantly as you add. Return the liquid mixture into the pot and place over low heat, stirring repeatedly till the creamy mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. At this point; if it looks lumpy...you have failed. :P hehe. Make sure the stove top isn't too hot and it should take less than 5-10 minutes for it to thicken; don't forget to keep stirring it. When almost done; pour the hot custard out immediately onto a wide mouth bowl placed over an ice bath to ease its cooling down and to stop it from continuing to cook in the heated pot. (an ice bath is a bowl of ice topped with some water). Allow mixture to cool completely before using; it should thicken as it chills. You may then fold in some whipped cream to lighten it.

Work with quarter portions of dough at a time. Roll it out to 1/2 cm thickness and place of pie moulds. Remember to dust the work surface with flour to avoid sticking. The dough is best worked in cold temperatures. I use the air conditioning in Malaysia. Trim the edges and push down the centers to create a good cup shape. Prick holes and fill with pie weights/dry beans/rice. Chill in refrigerator for another 30 minutes before baking in a preheated 160 degree Celsius for 15 minutes. When slightly golden; remove from over and tip away the weights. Lightly brush the insides with a thin coating of egg white and place back into the oven for another 5 minutes till golden and crusty.
Allow to cool before filling

spread the bottom layer with a touch of pineapple jam
top with pastry cream and finish with slices of mandarin orange 'flesh' only.*I made a mistake by not removing the mandarin (white layer of skin) completely; which made the tarts a little harder to eat as they often pulled away as full pieces. I'm sure they would have been much neater and easier to eat if I had the patience to gently de-'veined' it properly.

Ahh well.. at least I had a session of pretty orange colours to photograph! hehe
The tarts were pretty yummy too! I can't say I did a good job with mine... cause I over baked my shells a tad bit; but I guess it takes time to get used to new ovens.Oh! Chef C; This one's for you :)


V.Streit said...

Yum. Those tarts looks delicious and light.

Beautiful cake..as always.

Chef C said...

aw...another creative cake...how did you make the cakes slant? you know, i did think of your cakes when I was helping to plan someone's marriage solemnization ceremony (they call it ROM in Singapore) recently..and the thoughts go something like this
1) how lovely it would be to have Su's creation on the table
2) it would so much easier if I have Su's cakes here..people will overlook my tacky work, and concentrate on her nice cakes.

MamaFaMi said...

The tarts look yummy..
The cake looks lovely!

Bean Sprout's Cafe said...

The orange tart looks so cute ! I wanna have one now ^ ^

Two fit and fun gals said...

how interesting a citrus tart !!

i love your blog, its so bright and full of wonderful creations

Sippity Sup said...

A terrific bit of work here. Your photos are always so lovely and your taste is impeccable!

Unknown said...

You did a right guess at your mom's tool! Its called a pastry cutter, meant to cut butter into flour instead using finger tips to rub butter into flour (in case the fingers are too warm and melts the butter instead).

Love the tarts! ;)

cybeel said...

cooking is an art i believe. (something unf i don't have) they seem sooo delicious...

Anonymous said...

Hi Su,
May I ask what r the pebble likes item u place in the tart shells for?

Anonymous said...

Hiya.I read from the pie weights' jar that to put aluminium sheet on top of pastry before putting on the pie weights. Is it necessary? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

your tarts & cakes are as pretty as always.... it looks yummy!
btw, in the pastry cream, should the 30g butter add into the egg mixture and beat well?

Pearl said...

wow, gorgeous photos of the steps. lovely compositions.

Su-Yin -D├ęcorateur said...

Hi guys' thanks for leaving comments :P hehe
Thanks chef C for the compliments *blush*
I really enjoy taking photos of foods.. Moms new kitchen was a little
'blue' in shade but i guess the orange mandarins came out looking pretty decent.

Anonymous: You should use foil on the bottom; i didn't have any :( and decided to just wash the weights and use them anyway. Haha i always make do with what I have.

catherine: they are pie weights :)

anonymous: it goes last into the pastry cream mixture after youve removed it from the stove. SOrry if i left that out.