Baking memories

I remember one particular morning when I was probably in K1 or K2, I woke up to the smell of pineapples simmering in a pot on the stove. I watched my mum and my Darjie (eldest sister) chatting, sweating, peeling and slicing countless pineapples in the kitchen. They spent the next few hours hovering over the huge pot, making sure the pineapple mixture doesn’t get burnt. looking back, it’s amazing how many pineapples you need for a few tubs of pineapple tarts. So what role did I play? I would popped in between television programmes to “help” make sure the pineapple paste was up to standard, maybe helped to roll a few small balls to decorate the tarts and sometimes egg wash the tarts before they pop the trays into the oven. Since I was too young to do very much, I mostly parked myself in the living room with my pal TeeVee.

Gradually over the years, all of us grew up, moved out, became busy with our lives and we stopped making the treats together. Getting everyone to have dinner together at the same time is already tough, baking treats is the last thing in everybody’s mind. Oh we still bake, just not together.

Last year, I asked my favourite niece if she wanted to come to my house to make some pineapple tarts with me since she said she had some experience with my Darjie some time ago. We had a really good time nudging each other out of the way in my tiny kitchen and managed to whip up a few tins of goodies of acceptable quality.

This year I wanted to attempt to make some on my own because I thought my niece would be busy with her projects and I didn’t want to bother her. Not difficult to make mah. I even bought a small gridiron to use with my Happycall pan. Yah! You can make pineapple tarts with a HCP you know? Cool right? But then the HCP is so small, I figured I bake until the next day or break my back also cannot bake finish so I ditched the idea for another day. So anyway, Darjie suggested since she was also interested to do some baking, why not head over to her place and use her spanking new appliances instead? While we were there, if the younger kids get bored, her kids can help to entertain them. Brilliant idea!

Xan was excited to be able to help make the treats this year and insisted we make the chocolate rice crispies again and so we did with a few improvements. We used some fancy sprinkles this time. Not bad huh?

It’s not that I don’t want to share our recipe with you. I found that all the recipes on the internet were essentially the same with a few variations here and there. We adapted one but made several changes like omitting sugar in the dough, increasing the measurement for the flour, etc. Darjie didn’t measure anything, everything was done by “feel”. Darjie said “Ah Ma (grandmother) made the best nonya style pineapple tarts and she made them from memory never a recipe book. She always measure everything by hand and all her tarts always come out perfectly buttery and never dry. If she feels the dough texture doesn’t feel right, she will scold us and make us throw the entire batch out because she doesn’t like to waste time on substandard quality.” Phuwah! Scary mary… We tried to mimic her pastry recipe but with store bought pineapple filling because it was just so much easier that way. Thankfully it turned out great. SLURP!

Here are some simple recipes you can try:

Munchministry.com – Open Face Pineapple Tart

Bake King – Nonya Pineapple Tarts

Beanie N Us - Pineapple Tarts

The little ones got bored waiting for the tarts to be ready so they took a quick dip in the pool with the other cousins. As soon as he was dry enough, Xan climbed back up to the counter to continue to help us.

Since everything was either too hot or too messy for the boy, he was given the great responsibility of pasting the stickers onto all the containers. Very important step you know?

We couldn’t finish baking everything in one day so we went back to my sister’s place the next day to continue. This time we went prepared with an apron for Xan but he was more interested in swimming than baking that day. Can’t blame him, it was really hot and humid that day.

The whole point of the 2 days to me (and my sister) wasn’t about baking the treats or how good they tasted. My sis spent the most time doing the baking since my bad back didn’t allow me to stand or bend over for too long. It was the precious family bonding time we had while rolling and moulding the pastries. I was never close to Ah Ma (she passed away when I was 9) so the stories my mum and sister share with me about the time they spent with her before I was born are very special. My memory of Ah Ma has always been that angry face whenever I *ahem* smack her favourite grandson around.

Nothing beats homemade goodies and gossips with family. I hope we do this every year.

 

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