Thursday, September 18, 2014

Triple Layered Apple Haystack Tart

Is it true that...

An apple a day keep doctor away?

I'm not sure because I don't eat an apple everyday

... but I know that eating apple tarts makes me feel happy all the way...

Why I first saw this Triple Layered Apple Haystack Tart at Nippon Nin during April, I told her immediately that I love to bake this for Little Thumbs Up Apple event in September. Am I crazy thinking too much ahead? I'm not sure but all I know is that I really like to bake this recipe.

According to Nippon Nin, this is a replicate recipe of an elegant haystack-looking tart originated from Kinzo Nishihara (西原金蔵), the owner of a famous and well-reviewed pastry shop, Au Grenier D’or (オ・グレニエ・ドール) in Kyoto.

As mentioned in its name, this is a tart constructed with three mains layers and they are:

Layer One: An apple sauce
Layer Two: A Frangipane layer
Layer Three: Haystack-looking apples

Although this tart sounds a little complicate with its multiple layers , it is actually not difficult at all to bake. To me, the most challenge thing to do here is actually requiring patience and time to cut two apples into a pile of "haystack". Yes that I did bought a new mandolin slicer specially to bake this tart but eventually chicken out when I faced these sharp potential skin-scraping blades. ugh!!! I'm sorry but this is is me, being not brave to use a mandolin slicer...

I know that I'm not the best person to judge this apple tart as I have never been to Au Grenier D’or or Kyoto in my life. All I can say that this is a cake-like sticky tart fully absorbed with natural sweetness of apples. A cake-like sticky tart? My first bite of this tart tells me instantly that this apple tart is not the same as most traditional apple tarts. The very-apple-infused tart has an almost cake-like texture. The tart base is firm but not short or crispy or flaky. Although the tart base was first baked using classic shortcrust pastry and frangipane recipes, it forms a base to absorb the moisture from the apple sauce and the haystack-looking apples at its second bake and 
eventually form a sticky kind of texture. Sticky? Yup. My second bite confirms that it is truly apple-licious!

Besides enjoying an unique tart here, baking this tart has allowed me to learn a few things about apples. Like what variety of apple to use for what kind of purposes? Using the information at here, I have used the sweet and juicy Fuji to make my sweet apple sauce and firm and tangy Granny Smith as my firm-haystack-looking apples and we are loving this sweet and sour combination. What will be your favourite apple combination?

An Au Grenier D’or inspired Triple Layered Apple Haystack Tart
These beautiful Fuji apples are used to make the first layer of this tart.
The cooked apples will release its own juice in the presence of sugar.
I can't have enough of this apple sauce. It is so delicious.
Making the frangipane, the second layer.
... and bake!
... after its first bake
Here's more apples for this tart!
No mandolin slicer for the chicken me, please!
Spread apple sauce on the baked pastry first
Then top it with a big pile of apples!
Every slice of this tart is piled with apples!
The tart base is totally infused with natural sweetness of apples...
Sticky and apple-licious! 

Here's the recipe that is mostly adapted from Nippon Nin. She is always the lady that I know with heaps of delicious food, displaying exquisite moods and beautiful seasonal colours.

For the tart pastry:

150g cake flour, preferably with low protein (6-8%)
1/2 tsp salt
75g butter, cold and cubed
25ml water
1 egg yolk

Using a food processor or by hand, combine flour, salt and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Mix in egg yolk and the minimal amount of water until mixture forms a dough. Wrap dough with cling wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least hour or overnight.

For layer one, apple sauce:

1 large or 2 small apples, preferably Fuji, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Place apple and sugar in saucepan. Cook on low heat for 10 to 15 mins, stirring mixture occasionally until apple is thoroughly cooked tender.

Using a processor, blender or a hand blender, process the apple mixture into sauce-like consistency. Please note that the mixture doesn't have to be very smooth as some coarse bits of the sauce does enhance the overall texture of this tart.

Stir in lemon juice and set aside.

For layer two, frangipane:

50g finely ground almond (or almond meal)
50g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg, light beaten

Using wooden spoon or an electric mixer, stir ground almond and sugar in bowl until combined. Add butter and beat mixture until well incorporated. While mixing, add egg gradually in batches and mix further until well combined. Set aside.

Lightly grease and floured a 19cm or 20cm loose bottom round tart tin.

Remove pastry dough from the fridge. Allow it to rest in room temperature for 5 mins before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry to 5mm thickness.

Transfer rolled dough onto the prepared tin. Lightly press the pastry into the tin, patching any cracks. Trim the edges with a knife or a rolling pin. Chill pastry in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 mins. Chilling is important here as this shortcrust pastry can shrink during baking.

Preheat the oven to 360°F or 160°C fan forced.

Spread frangipane mixture evenly on the pastry and bake for 20 mins.

For layer three, Haystack-looking apples

2 large apples, preferably Granny Smith for its firmness and tangy taste
lemon juice from 1 lemon
50g caster sugar

Remove the core of the apples but leave the skin on. Using a mandolin or a knife, cut apple into sticks. Mix apples, sugar and lemon juice together in a mixing bowl and set aside for 10 mins. to allow the apple to "sweat". Remove the apples from the mixing bowl and place them on the sheets of paper towel and pat-dry them thoroughly.

Heat oven to 360°F or 160°C fan forced. Spread about apple sauce over the tart base. Top the haystack-looking apples on top of the apple sauce without pressing the topping.

Bake the tart for 10-15 mins. When the tips of the apples start turning brown, remove the tart from the oven and cover it loosely with a foil. Return the tart into the oven and bake again for another 10-15 mins. The total baking time for this second bake is about 25 mins.

Leave it to cool slightly for 10-15 mins before removing it from the tin. Leave it to cool completely at room temperature. Dust it with icing sugar and serve.

Happy Baking

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Kit from I-Lost in Austen at this post.


Our Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first Tuesday until the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with the theme of the month which is APPLE for September 2014 and link with us at this post anytime until 30th September 2014.

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY or/and Kit from I-Lost in AustenFor more details, please see this.

What after September 2014? Eileen from Eileen's Diary will be the next hostess of October 2014 and her theme is PUMPKIN! Instead of starting on the first Tuesday of the month, her Little Thumbs Up event starts on 1st Oct 2014 and so please take note.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My "Very Singapore" Merlion Kuih Bahulu / Kueh Bahulu

Me baking these merlion kuih bahulu?

Am I patriotic Singaporean?

I ask myself this question with a nervous chuckle. What do you think?

kuih kueh bahulu
My "very Singapore" Merlion kuih bahulu

I love Singapore because it is the place where I grew up with the most wonderful memories.

When I know that Grace, Life can be Simple is hosting Asian Food Fest (AFF) with Singapore theme, I know that my Merlion cake mould is FINALLY going to be handy... LOL!

I know. I know. I have to clarify here that Kuih Bahulu / Kueh Bahulu is far less for being the most iconic Singapore food.

I know. I know too that Kuih Bahulu / Kueh Bahulu is not an essential Singapore food like Singapore Chilli Crabs, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow or Wonton Mee. However, in the shape of Merlion (an iconic Singapore mascot), I reckon these Kuih Bahulu are surely Singapore enough.

Strangely, the Kuih Bahulu recipe that I'm using here seems to be not the typical all-crispy kind as only the area of the kuih that is exposed to the oven heat is nicely browned and crispy but the rest is NOT being golden but amazingly moist and fluffy!!! Some typical Kuih Bahulu can be dry and even hard to swallow and these are definitely NOT!!!

Why this recipe??? Honestly, I chose this recipe because it is the first hit when I Googled for "kuih bahulu recipe"... LOL! According to Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover), these kuih bahulu are made with traditional methods like adding fizzy drink to aerate the batter and also adding heated sugar and flour to make the batter. Like Sonia, I don't really know the rationale of heating the sugar and flour but like choose to follow recipe adapting these most traditional ways.

I have to warn you that these super light and slightly crispy little kuih bahulu can be super addictive to eat as I can eat like five in a flash especially when they were freshly baked from the oven!

My grandma told me before that adding fizzy drink helps to aerate some cake batter. Totally agree!
Another traditional practice: Both flour and sugar have to be heated before adding into the cake batter. I'm sticking to this method. Yes to re-invent the wheel!!!
It takes 20 minutes to beat the batter until fluffy. Then, stir in fizzy drink before the addition of flour.
Brush the moulds with canola oil
One mould can bake 7 mini bahulu but I can eat 5 in a go... Ops! Gotta stop eating!!!
kuih kueh bahulu
These are the surviving bahulu but not for long. 
kuih kueh bahulu
Notice that they are brown on their bottoms but golden throughout?
Nevermind!!! As long as they are amazingly moist and fluffy!

Here's the recipe that I have adapted from Nasi Lemak Lover
(The most major modification that I have done is to use 3/5 of Sonia's recipe to bake smaller quantity of kuihs. That's all!)

Makes 35 small kuihs plus 6 larger merlion kuihs
3 large eggs, 80g each, cold from fridge
90g caster sugar
1/8 tsp salt
100g all purpose flour
2 tbsp fizzy drink (I used regular Sprite)

Cooking oil, preferably canola oil, for greasing

Pre-heated oven to 180°C or 160°C fan forced. Place sugar in a shallow ovenproof dish and place in oven for 2 mins or until sugar is well heated throughout. Make sure that the sugar is removed from the oven before it starts to melt.

Meanwhile, combine salt and eggs in a bowl of an electric mixer attached with a whisk attachment. Beat mixture with a high speed for about 2-3 mins or until it begins to look fluffy.

Reduce beating speed to medium high. While beating, add the heated sugar gradually and continue to beat for 20 mins until mixture has triple in volume and also look thick and pale. Reduce the beating speed to low and beat for another 3 mins.

While beating the egg mixture, place flour in a shallow ovenproof dish and place in the oven for 2 mins. Set aside to cool. 

Reduce the beating speed to the lowest speed. Add fizzy drink and then, sift in the cooled flour into the egg mixture. Mix gently with the very low speed until mixture is well combined and smooth. Do not over mix.

Change the oven setting to 200°C with no fan. Brush oil on Bahulu mould and place it in the oven to heat for about 2-3 mins. Remove the mould from the oven, spoon mixture into heated mould. Bake for 11 mins (no fan) at middle rack or until golden brown.

Remove mould from oven and use a skewer to prick the cake out of the mould. Allow the bahulu to cool on a wire rack completely. 

Grease the mould again. Place the mould in the oven for 2-3 mins and use the pre-heated mould to bake the remaining bahulu. Repeat this cycle until all the batter is used up.

Tip: For crisper bahulu, Sonia has mentioned that the Bahulu can be baked at 180°C for an additional 5 mins but I didn't do that.

Store them in an air-tight container when the bahulu are completely cooled.

Happy Baking

I'm submitting this post to the Singapore event of Asian Food Fest (AFF) at here organised by Wendy, Table for 2 and hosted by Grace, Life can be Simple.