Open Pineapple Tart.

Closed Pineapple Tart

I was thinking of this food and coincidentally received an email on Pineapple Tarts from a Flickr member, "Taking5". The question was more to do with Eurasian Pineapple tarts for Christmas. I hadn't come across this until that email and responded saying that I would research it and see what came out of it. Fully expecting to find that the link was to a  Chinese tradition that possibly the Portuguese or Eurasian community or cooks had borrowed the idea.

The Chinese Pineapple Tart is a relatively new tradition, early 20th century. The pineapple itself wasn't known outside South America and neighbours until the 15th century by Christopher Columbus who discovered it in the Indies and was brought to the attention of the Spanish Court. The first description of the fruit was by French sailors.

I don't know how old the Cristang Pineapple tart tradition is but I'm fairly sure that it wasn't inspired by the Chinese creation. The coincidental festive production makes sense as it was an exotic filling but delicious and stable if prepared as a jam or conserve which is what both recipes use. The Eurasian tradition brings out the Pineapple Tart at Christmas time where as the Chinese usually highlight them during the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year. Having said that the Pineapple Tart is now seen all the year round in Chinese outlets.

The Chinese have added a subliminal label onto one of their interpretations by making the tart resemble the yuan or the original gold currency in the familiar ingot shape, therefore suggestive of prosperity and good fortune.

Many of the Chinese Tarts are made with a short pastry similar to shortbread and this is most definitely a western baker's creation. It doesn't answer the question of whether or not the Chinese borrowed the process from the Eurasian population in Melaka or possibly from the Portuguese at Macau or other places?

  • 150g flour
  • l/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1½ tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 120g pineapple paste (commercial or homemade)
  • 1 egg, beaten for glazing
  • You also need:
  • Pineapple tarts cutter or mold .
  1. Sieve flour, corn flour, salt and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut butter to small pieces and rub into the flour, then add egg yolk to form a dough.
  2. Dust the work area, rolling pin and pineapple tart mold (cutting edge(s)) with flour.
The mold creates tarts of a uniform size and creates a small depression in the pastry to hold the dollop of jam. A creative embossed pattern, usually floral, is stamped onto the outer top edge of the tart around the pineapple filling. Molds are available fabricated in plastic or metal.

Pineapple Tart Mold by Brown Cookie

To make open pineapple tarts
  •  Roll pastry gently into 0.5cm (¼ in) thickness and stamp out with a pineapple tart mold(s).
  • Add one teaspoon of pineapple paste filling (roll to a ball).
  • Glaze with egg if you want a golden crust.

To make closed pineapple tarts
  1. Roll pastry into 0.3cm (1/8 in) thickness and about 6.5cm x 5cm. (2½ x 2 in). or you may have a piping set with a suitable cone that extrudes a flat piece of dough with continuous ridges. Roll this piece around a ball of the jam and seal the following edge.
  2. Add one teaspoon of filling and roll with your hands to close the pastry (roll to a ball). Glaze with egg wash.
  3. Bake at 180ºC (355F) for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Closed tarts generally take a few minutes longer.
A variation in the production of the closed tarts is to wrap the jam completely in a generous amount of pastry. Using the cutter of the mold push it down the ball and the resultant outline will be a fluted edged biscuit with the jam safely encased inside. You can, before removing the cutter, then lower the embossing insert into the cutter to produce an embossed top layer of the tart. The overall shape is a high standing tart with a patterned top layer and uniform sides with the jam completely enclosed.