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Experiment #3 August 11, 2008

Posted by oldcookie in Experiments.
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I did this experiment two weeks ago, but didn’t get around to writting it up until now.

This experiment is actually two experiments:

For water dough I made 2 portions with the same formula as in experiment #2.

Then I made 2 oil dough formula:

Formula #1:

Flour 25%(as compared to the amount of a single portion of water dough)

Butter 150%

Formular #2:

Flour 25%(as compared to the amount of a single portion of water dough)

Butter 112.5%

Lard 37.5%

Then I made two set of LPS, each using a single portion of the waterdough, and one of the oil dough.

Why was I trying to figure out?

As I mentioned before, I didn’t understand why so much flour was used in the oil dough, that’s why I reduced the amount of flour in the dough.

The test with butter vs. butter/lard mixture was just so that I can see for myself, the difference on the end product in terms of layer separation, aroma, etc.


Experiment #3

Experiment #3

As you can guess, the tart shell turned out a lot more like puff pastry, however, since I use high heat(260C) in the beginning, the layers were essentially fried and turned crunchy.   It was interesting tasting it, definitely something I didn’t expect.

More importantly though, I finally understood the reason that flour was mixed in.  The intent is to create layers of crumbly crust that’s laminated by layers of flaky ones.   Knowing this is the case, using pastry flour in the oil dough makes a lot of sense.  Also, it tells me that in the future, when I mix the oil dough, I should not completely mix everything together as I’ve been doing, I should do it more like short pastry so that gluten development is at a minimum.

The butter vs. lard was less informative, simply because the oil dough was wrong to begin with.  But I can get from the result that all butter does provide a much better aroma, but one with lard mixed int raised higher.  The question is, which is more important to me?   That’s something I need to continue experimenting with in the future for sure.


Some other ideas July 29, 2008

Posted by oldcookie in Ideas.
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Just a note on some ideas after the second experiment before I forget them:

  • Add Powder Eggs to the water dough. Using powdered eggs instead of of fresh eggs let me add more without affecting moisture content.
  • Bake the tarts longer in during low temperature stage. Take the tart out at 15, 20, 25, 30 mins.(so I need 4 tarts.)
  • Vary Butter percentage in oil dough. Right now the water to fat ratio in oil dough is 1:1.5. for that 150% of fate, I should try all butter, 100% butter and 75% butter, and compare the results
  • Looking for different kinds of butter.

Need to investigate:

  • Why flour is needed for the oil dough at all…  What purpose does it serve?

Experiment #2 July 28, 2008

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Experiment #2

After the failure of experiment 1, I modified the recipe in a couple of ways.

1. I increased the % of lard in the recipe and decreased the % of butter – main reason for this is to get better definition of the layers.

2. I did not put in milk po wder in the oil dough – cause I wasn’t sure if it was really adding any flavor, back to basics first.

3. I removed the custard powder from the water dough, and used vanilla extract instead – This is mainly because I read the ingredients list on the custard powder, which was: Corn starch, Color Yellow, Vanilla.

4. Adjusted the moisture level on the water dough.

So the new ingredients list is:

Oil Dough:

Pastry Flour 100%

Lard 87.5%

Butter 62.5%

Water Dough:

AP Flour 100%

Egg ~30%*

Water ~35%*

Salt 1.5%

Vanilla Extract a dash(I didn’t measure this part. :p)
*For Eggs and Water, should be about 70-75% of the flour weight. You sort of have to get the right consistency.


Steps are almost the same as experiment 1, except that the oven was set to the highest I can get mine to, which was about 290C(~550F). The tart was baked for 10 minutes at 290C, then turned down to 190C(375F) and baked for another 15 mins.


Experiment #2

First of all, I had one problem this time around which showed up during the first 2 minutes of baking. I’ve filled the tarts to about 80% full, I also baked an empty shell just to see how it turns out. It was apparent in the first 2 minutes that the shells would shrink quite a bit as they puffed up.  Some of the tarts had the filling spilled out a bit as the shell shrunk.  So don’t fill the tarts up too full.

The tarts came out quite well, but the dough still tasted a bit undercooked, so I either have to leave it in longer on low temp or leave the high temp a bit longer.

The shell doesn’t have enough of the butter aroma, so I should increase the % of butter and see what happens.

The filling also had a problem.  It lots of minute critters on top and doesn’t look like the real egg tarts.  Not quite sure why though.  Something to figure out I guess.

Anyhow, this was much closer to what I had in Hong Kong that my last experiment.  This shows that the two stage baking approach is what needed to get a good shell.  I am one step closer to my perfect egg tart.

Experiment 1 July 28, 2008

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As I noted in my last post, I did 2 experiments in the past few weeks, and the results were not quite good. Although the result second experiment was much better than the first.I put together the first recipe by:

  • Adapting recipes from the internet.
  • Combining the recipe from a cookbook that I have.
  • Some ideas of my own.

For example, I used skim milk powder instead of evaporated milk, as suggested by many recipes on the internet, because that’s what commercial bakeries use, and it make sense because you can control the ratio of moisture to milk solids when you use a milk powder, which is not the case with evaporated milk. I also added milk powder to the oil dough because I thought it might enriched the flavor because I am mixing lard with butter. Other than that, most of the stuff is pretty standard.

So, here’s the recipe I used for the first experiment(given in baker’s percentages):


Oil Dough:

  • Pastry flour – 100%
  • Butter – 66%
  • Lard – 66%
  • Milk Powder – 5%

Water Dough:

  • All Purpose flour – 100%
  • Custard powder – 12.5%
  • Egg Yolk – 25%
  • Water – 50%


  • Eggs – 100%
  • Sugar – 33%
  • Water – 125%
  • Skim Milk Powder – 17%
  • Salt – 1.5%
  • Vanilla Extract – Dash


One day before making the tart.

For Oil Dough:

  1. Mix ingredients for oil shell together until smooth
  2. Form oil shell into rectangular shape, cover well with cling wrap. Refrigerate.

For Water Dough:

  1. Sift dry ingredients together
  2. Put dry ingredients on work surface, make a well in the middle.
  3. Put wet ingredients in the center.
  4. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture with the wet ingredients, only mix as much as need for the ingredients to be well incorporated.

Make the OWS or Laminated Pastry:

  1. Roll out the Water Dough into a square about twice as large at the water dough
  2. Put the oil dough into the center on a diagonal(i.e the oil dough’s side should not be parallel to the water dough.)
  3. Fold the the corners of the water dough over the oil dough, pinch to seal.
  4. Refrigerate the whole thing for at least 30 minutes. (From now on, you have to judge whether the dough is getting too warm. You can tell that if it is starting to get too soft. Whenever it is too warm, refrigerate it for 30 minutes.)
  5. Roll out the dough, try to keep the shape as rectangular as possible.
  6. Fold it up like a letter(1/3 folds).
  7. Roll it out again. Fold it up like a map(1/4 folds).
  8. Repeat once more.
  9. Roll it out again. Do a half fold.
  10. Refrigerate overnight

On the day.

Making the tarts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all the filling ingredients together, make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Wait until the oven reaches 375 degrees…
  4. Roll out the dough to the desired thickness, it should not be too thin, because that would merge the layers together, but if it is too thick, it would be doughy.
  5. Cut the dough using a pastry cutter. Make sure that the size of the cut pastry is bigger than needed for the mold. You don’t want to press it out in order to get it to fit, that would press the layers together. If you can get an exact fit that’s great, if not, cut it larger and trim with a paring knife.
  6. Pour the filling into the tart straining it with a fine mesh sieve while you are pouring it.
  7. Pop it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.


I made a few mistake this time around, some of which I mentioned above.

  1. I made too little of the dough. I used 75G of flour each for the water and oil dough. I needed a larger amount for the dough to be worked easily. In Experiment 2, I used 100g, and it worked much better.
  2. I rolled out the dough too thinly.
  3. I used a cutter there too small for the molds, so I had to press the dough to fit. I think this cause the layers to merge together a bit, so it wasn’t too puffy.

All these were mistakes on my part, which all affected the flakiness of the shell, and the shell was not nearly as flaky as I wanted.

However, there was another problem. The shell was really undercooked, which is more a problem with the temperature than the dough. Although most recipes I’ve found use an oven temperate of 375-400F, I don’t think that temperature is high enough for the dough to cook properly. This is something I’ve adjusted in recipe 2.0, which I will post tomorrow. It’s getting late. 🙂

I haven’t paid too much attention to the filling yet cause I am focusing on getting the shell right. However, the filling actually tasted pretty good, but I think the most important that for the filling would be to find better(more aromatic/flavorful) eggs…. I have no idea where you can find those in Toronto though…

Project delayed July 25, 2008

Posted by oldcookie in General.
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It’s been a few months since my last post, because of may reasons, this project got delayed a bit. So there hasn’t been much progress.

I did have some two failed attempts at making the shell and tarts. I’ll put those up a bit later.

The Plan May 2, 2008

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Here’s my plan of attack.

Step 1: Research

I’ve found a number of discussion and recipes on the web, as well as, one recipe from an old Chinese cook book. I’ll type these up over the weekend. Since the OWS is very similar to puff pastry, I’ll also look the technique for making puff pastry as well.

Step 2: Standard formula

Once I’ve done my research, I plan on either picking one recipe or formulating one based on the different recipes and start trying things out.

Step 3: Experiment with different variations on the shell

The shell is the most complicated part of the whole egg tart making process, this is where I’ll spend most of my time. I plan on experimenting with different types of fat and different ingredients in the dough to enhance the flavor.

Step 4: Experiment with different fillings

This is the other part of an egg tart. Because it requires a lot less labor to make, it is a lot easier to test different variations.

That’s all for now, I’ll be updating this with the recipes I’ve found soon.

What I know about egg tarts April 27, 2008

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When I talk about egg tarts, I am talking about basic Hong Kong style egg tarts. This is the kind that I grew up eating and the one that I know best. There is also the so called Portuguese Egg Tarts, a version of Pastel de Nata, that originated from Macau. People were crazy for those a few years ago, but I never really became attached to them because I wasn’t in Hong Kong when that became popular. Other less popular variations include Egg White Tarts, Milk Tarts, Swallow’s nest egg tarts, etc., basically whatever can be put into tart shells and coagulates when baked, people have probably tried it. My effort, will be spent mainly on the basic style of egg tarts, as those are the most popular and are the basis for most other tarts

Egg tarts at 檀島(Honolulu Coffee Shop)In general, there are 2 types of egg tarts for sell in Hong Kong. One uses short or flaky pastry for the shells, the other uses laminated pastry. Personally, I really don’t like egg tarts with short of flaky pastry shells. Even though some of the most famous places for egg tarts in Hong Kong use them, I still believe that the only true egg tart is one that is made with a lamintated pastry shell.

The laminated pastry is called 皮 in Chinese, which directly translate to “Oil Water Skin”(OWS for short). This is a kind of shell or skin that is used in many different kinds of Chinese pastries. It is made in a way that’s very similar to the way to make puff pastry. There are two main difference between puff pastry and OWS though. First of all, traditionally, OWS is made with lard, and also, it has less layers so the pastry doesn’t puff up as much. However, for egg tarts, I am pretty sure that a mixture of the two is used at some of the famous places in Hong Kong. (more…)