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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hong Kong Egg Tarts - Flaky Egg Tart, 酥皮蛋挞


Egg Tart 7


Egg Tart 4

Egg Tart 5

I have always wondered about the Egg Tart. It has all the elements of a western pastry, from the short crust/ puff pastry and the egg custard to the little tart molds but yet, I have only seen them offered at Chinese Dim Sum restaurants or bakeries in Chinatowns. There is no doubt that these had originated from Southern China. Some postulated that Southern China/ Hong Kong, through their interaction with the Western world could have adapted the egg tart from the English tart. These custard filled tarts have also been associated with the Portugese egg tart pastry, Pastel de Nata. Whatever it is, we know that the Chinese love their egg tarts. I have so far identified three basic varieties of Dan Ta, as they are fondly referred to in cantonese.

The one featured in my last post, has a short crust pastry which is easy to handle and is generally the variety most would try to bake at home. The key is to make the crust just thin enough to hold the glorious silken tender custard.

The second variety is the Portugese egg tart which uses a puff pastry crust and is filled with an egg custard mixture that would caramelise upon baking. If one uses store-bought ready rolled puff pastry, this could be the easiest egg tart to whip up at home.

The third variety is what is normally served at dim sum restaurants and comes with a flaky crust that can only be achieved with an obscene amount of shortening and deft pastry folding skills. The recipe requires one to wrap a highly oily dough with an oil free 'water dough' . This is not unlike making puff pastry from scratch but the ratio of the oily dough to water dough is much higher, thus rendering this a very difficult dough to handle... especially in warm and humid Singapore. I have been told by a dim sum chef that at the restaurant, they would normally roll out the dough (开皮) in a cold room. Once the dough is rolled out, it is folded in 3 folds, rotated 90 degrees and rolled out again. This process is repeated twice while for the third time, instead of 3, the dough is folded in 4 folds before it is rolled out to the desired thickness and cut to size. This process gives the dough the nice layered flakiness.

Egg Tart 2
It was with a little bit of gungho spirit and a little hubris that I embarked on the venture of baking this at home. I don't have a cold room to work in and I am not skilled enough to work as quickly and deftly. As a result, even though my crust still tastes lovely and flaky, the discernible pretty layers were missing. I also experimented with the oven temperature to find the right balance to bake the crust to a crisp but not turn the custard into rubber ducky.

I have to admit that this is not the easiest recipe to work with and I am glad that I have managed to roll and fold the dough as required. However, there is still room for improvement. Lining the tart cases more evenly would have to come with practice and deftness ... especially so for a dough that wilts under the heat of the thumb.

Egg Tart 7(250)
Recipe :

Pastry Dough :
Oil Dough
Shortening                 180g
Butter                         50g
Plain Flour                 150g

Water Dough
Bread flour                 29g
Plain flour                   90g
Egg                             12g
Custard Powder          7.2g
Water                          60g

Egg Custard Filling : Refer to here

Method :
1. Mix ingredients for Oil Dough together in a cake mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until smooth and wrap dough between plastic sheets and chill for 3-4 hours.
2. Mix ingredients for Water Dough in a mixer fitted with the dough hook and blend until dough is no longer tacky to touch.
3. Wrap dough between plastic sheets and chill for 20mins.
4. Roll out Water Dough and place oil dough in the middle, fold and roll as illustrated below:
Flaky Tart

5. After final fold, roll out dough to about 0.5cm thickness, cut out rounds with a cookie cutter and line tart molds with the dough.
6. Fill the lined tarts cases with egg custard.
7. Bake for 13 mins at 200C.
8. Remove from oven, cool down and serve while warm.


53 comments:

Pei-Lin said...

Shirley, of the two major types of Cantonese egg tarts, crustwise, I MUCH prefer this super-flaky type. Yours look VERY good. Thinking about you working with the dough in a warm room in our weather, I can't help but to respect you. =)

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Thanks, Peilin - it is not an easy dough to work with but I think it is worth trying out. I can still use the left over dough for Char Siew Soh...:)

pickyin @ LifeIsGreat said...

Respect! In our weather, working with this kind of pastry would require much gungho spirit as you put it. Would you attempt this again? :D

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Pickyin - you know what? I think I would attempt this again... I want to make Char Siew Soh... I think I am just beginning to get the hang of it... would be wasted if I don't try this again.

pickyin @ LifeIsGreat said...

Where did you get the dough recipe from? I wonder if using lard in place of the shortening would yield a better result, not that I'd know where to get lard here.

Cindy Waffles said...

Those look gorgeous. I've always wanted to try to make egg tarts at home, but never had the courage to do so. The dough is intimidating. One day I will try it though.

Portuguese egg tarts are so good!!

Jeannie said...

I like this version best but the most difficult to make..

DG said...

Love to eat the flakky crust texture of this tart. Yours look very good, and thanks for sharing the illustration.

ICook4Fun said...

The tarts are beautiful. I love the bright yellow color of the custard. I tried making this type of pastry once but they didn't turn out well. I came out hard and not flaky at all. I have to try your pastry out the next time I make this again.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

These look absolutely perfect Shirley! I've always marvelled at the pastry in these! :D

Passionate About Baking said...

Gee, Shirley, you really have the patience to work this out! And your pastry looks really flaky! You're just too modest! I've learnt this before, but you've not seen me done this because it just not possible to attempt this in my kitchen! I really salute you! And your egg tarts looked so perfect! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Jane- It is still possible to do this. I have to work very fast and chuck the pastry more often into the fridge for a quick chill when it gets too soft to work with. Troublesome but still possible... :)

Maria said...

Love the step-by-step instructions! These tarts look perfect!

Shumaila said...

I gave you a shout out in my own blog and wanted to let you know. Hope that is okay.

And love the step-by-step instructions! Love your blog!

You can check the post here:
http://wp.me/p10soU-Mr

Happy Blogging,
Shumaila

Swee San @ The Sweet Spot said...

I love both types of egg tarts, flaky or shortcrust. But of course I can't resist these small little flaky tarts in dimsum shops, yours looks just as good!

Eat Amsterdam said...

I live in Amsterdam where good dim sum is hard to come by anyway. One of the best places recently closed so I've been craving things like these little tarts. I'll definitely give your recipe a try.

daphne said...

Ah, now this one is calling my name. I agree that the pastry is sooo tricky but like you said..all worth it!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Great information and recipe! I know what you mean about the layers but yours still look very very tasty to me. In fact it's now making me sad that I don't have any dan ta available right now. I'd be trying this myself but for my own lack of deftness with pastry and need to bake cupcakes for an order. But it's definitely going on my to-do list!

Yummy Bakes said...

great and nice tarts. I would love to make some but unfortunately nobody eats at home! I pop over to your house to help myself. haha

Jo said...

Shirley, I must say your timing is absolutely spot on! I have been on the look out for a flaky egg tart recipe for a long while. My first attempt from a Chinese recipe book bought from Popular bombed out big time. Thanks for posting this and you can bet I'll be making this pretty soon.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

This is too nice to go with a cup of Chinese tea.

Linda said...

I guess the thickness is rather 0.5 cm, not mm. Otherwise, delicious!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@ Linda : Oops! You are absolutely correct! Thanks for pointing this out.

noobcook said...

home-made egg tarts just looks so darn good, and the diagram is really informative :p

Indie.Tea said...

I freeze the butter...it helps with the handling part.
I, too, have only seen the egg tart in this little form, in dim sum restaurants. They always look so pretty, happy and yellow and SO flaky. Yours turned out really nicely - very professional crust - and such a gorgeous yellow. And they look really delicious.

Joanne said...

Mmm that flaky crust sounds delicious! What a great tart!

mycookinghut said...

I love egg tarts! I definitely want to try making this!

thecoffeesnob said...

Ooh I love egg tarts but I seriously can't decide between Jane's Portugese egg tarts and your flaky ones. Looks like I'll just have to make them both soon!

maameemoomoo - a ½ food blog said...

LOL!

Do u know i've been thinking of baking these babies one of these days?!?! Great minds think alike eh? :)

Sasa said...

Kudos for trying, these look amazing even if you didn't get the layers. These are one of the first things I eat when I have yum cha in Penang.

Anh said...

Kudos for giving these a try. Perhaps I should, too, now that we are having cold weather!

Thanks for the detailed instruction Shirley.

lena said...

hi, though i love to eat egg trats especially the flaky one like these, i dont think i have the skills yet to make these, really.Looking at the diagram, i think it's fine for me going from step 1 to 4 and beyond that, i can imagine the rolling and folding is going to more tougher and cooking the custard is even more tricky, nevertheless i do hope to try making these flaky tarts one day.

Jane Chew said...

Hi, love ur blog very much. I did this last week using another recipe. It turns out good too. Just wonder why the water dough of yours do not have oil content at all? Am interested to have a go with ur recipe. Thanks for sharing.

T.J. Wong said...

The ratio oil dough doesn't seems right, the dough is like water...

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi TJ, it is correct. The dough is not like water it turns sticky if you don't work fast enough. A few readers havevtried out the recipe and had been successful. Drop me an email if you have problems when you try this. I will see how I can help. This oil dough is even more difficult to handle than puff pastry.

lena said...

hi shirley, just posted flaky eggs tarts last night but from a different recipe..thought you might be interested to have a look too.

Anonymous said...

Hey is it possible to convert this to cup/spoon measures? I don't have one of those little food scales =(

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Anonymous: You can try to refer to this site for conversion....http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/tools.measures/Measures.cfm

Honestly, I have never believed in the US baking measurements especially for baking. A food scale is a great investment and will help you to produce more consistent results.... do consider to invest in one...

fendi said...

Hi shierly i am anoob here. Im wondering how do u roll the skin. I had difficulty rolling the egg tart as they always burst even after freezer. My kitchem is not air cond and its hot here. Any helps..? Thank u

fendi said...

Hi shirley trying to roll out the pastry but its so difficult to roll and always burst. I am working in a non aircon room and had tried freezing the skin. Any help? Thanks

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hello Fendi- sorry I almost missed getting back to you. The problem with this pastry is that it is too soft and oily. Did you chill it before rolling? It is impossible to do any thing with it if you do not chill it. Also, I will recommend that you roll them in between 2 plastic sheets... Otherwise you will have them get stuck to your rolling pin and table!

fendi said...

hi shirley
i did put plastic between top and bottom, and also chilled the dough for 3-4 hours. but still break when folding. i also modify the recipe using extra 50 g of cake flour to the pastry dough. yes it rolled ok but the taste became chewy and more puff pastry a like instead of flaky and buttery hk egg tart. my baker had done it over 5 times but still failed. any helps ? thank you

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Fendi - can you email me at kokken69blog@gmail.com? I have a few questions to clarify with you. Thanks.

Elvy said...

Hi, I'm Elvy. This is my first visit to your blog and I find it very nice! You've posted great food photos! Do you also love the enjoyment of taking pictures of delicious food? I'm an amateur myself, but I am always eager to learn, haha. Actually I'll be posting about egg tarts too by this end of week. I'd be glad if you could share something about food with me, and welcome to my simple blog: click here

Mandy Khoo said...

Hi, I am Mandy. Just wanna confirm its your bread flour also called high protein flour?

Tx..

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Mandy - indeed, bread flour is also called high protein flour>

Mandy Khoo said...

Hi Shirley,

May i also know that what is the size of the mould you are using? like Diameter x Depth?

tx.. Mandy

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Mandy - Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. The molds I use are very small. About 5cm diameter across the widest part. You can any mold you want but I like to make my sweets small.

Mandy Khoo said...

hi shirley,

your chilling process is it putting the dough into the freezer?? or only at the butter compartment?

I have tried to make this but fail coz the oil dough are too hard (i put in freezer) to press when wrap with water dough. My water dough burst becoz of the oil dough..

Help...

Tx.. Mandy

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Mandy, before rolling out the dough, I placed it in the general fridge area for about an hour. After rolling out, I had to stick it back in the fridge again. You can put it in the freezer but you need to monitor the time. The whole idea of putting it back in the fridge is to get it to the right hardness to roll out and cut. If you over freeze, the dough will not be too hard and not be malleable. If you don't cool it down enough, the dough will be too mushy to work with. I actually ran back and forth between my fridge and work table when I was making this. Very tricky in a hot kitchen. Don't be discouraged. Try again.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Mandy, before rolling out the dough, I placed it in the general fridge area for about an hour. After rolling out, I had to stick it back in the fridge again. You can put it in the freezer but you need to monitor the time. The whole idea of putting it back in the fridge is to get it to the right hardness to roll out and cut. If you over freeze, the dough will not be too hard and not be malleable. If you don't cool it down enough, the dough will be too mushy to work with. I actually ran back and forth between my fridge and work table when I was making this. Very tricky in a hot kitchen. Don't be discouraged. Try again.

Anonymous said...

Hi, may i know is using salted or unsalted butter? this recipe can make how many pcs?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Anonymous : I used unsalted butter. I can't quite recall how many pieces this would yield but I think it is around 10-15.

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