It's not actually a thousand layers.....probably around a hundred
Apparently, girls are better than guys at multitasking. But if all guys are worse than me at multitasking, then I truly fear for the human race........
For instance, unlike most others I know, I cannot listen to music and do homework at the same time, much less watch TV (or blog....tehehe) - I get to caught up in the other thing and just ignore the homework (although that may be only because it’s homework.....).
Another thing I cannot do is bake more than one thing at a time. This is not to say I don’t do so regularly (hehe…) but when I do, things just don't come out quite right.......
I like to make more than one thing at once for many reasons. For one thing, I don’t actually have that much time to bake- especially since I take so long to make things (I almost always take longer than estimated time on the recipe). My ever growing list of things to make means that unless I multitask, I will still be up to item number 25 when I die. Also, many recipes that I make require awfully short oven times and I don't like to waste this precious heat, especially if I've taken longer to preheat the oven than to bake whatever I'm baking. Although I admit, I don't actually properly preheat my oven.......hehe
I've had plenty of bad experiences with multitasking so I really should have known that trying to bake a cake and make egg tarts at the same time was not a good idea. Especially since I was planning to make a layered egg tart pastry (like puff pastry) and a decorated cake. Needless to say, the cake didn't end up being decorated properly and the egg tarts didn't turn out too good.
The cake was originally going to be for a friend, and I had planned to cut it into a cute cartoon shape and then cover it with fondant. I thought it would be simple:
Making the cake: 30 minutes
Baking the cake: 30 minutes
Icing the cake: 10 minutes
Making the fondant + covering with fondant= 1 hour MAX
So at maximum I would spend 2 hours and ten minutes making the cake, which isn't very long in my time because I had left half a day to make it. Since I was in the kitchen anyway, why not make something else? ............................like egg tarts!
Thousand layer egg custard tarts are not my favourite dim sum dessert but seeing that it was possible to create the many layers after reading about it on a couple of blogs, I was interested in trying so myself. Although I had made puff pastry (once) before, that did not turn out too successfully so I was still a little scared about making the dough. It sounded fun enough though- I like fiddly recipes =]
The last time I made puff pastry, I’d spent about 10 minutes just on the rolling out of the dough, putting the butter in, rolling out etc. etc only to look at a video minutes later, to see that the people in the video only took about half a minute to do each turn and then BAM, back it went into the fridge. I was determined to speed myself up a bit this time and successfully completed the first turn in about 3 minutes or so……still slow but I guess it’s progress! I happily rolled the dough out for my second turn/fold, rolling it out until it was large enough to fold (this was not as easy as it sounds…..) when I lifted one end of the dough and then…………I rememebered
I forgot to reflour the surface!
Part of the dough had stuck to the surface of the table as a result of my slightly light flouring which meant all the flour from before had stuck onto the dough so the work surface had barely and flour left on it. Which was exactly the same mistake I made last time. And this was terrible because that meant the bit of dough separating the fat from the next layer of fat was GONE and this meant that the layers wouldn't be perfect any more!!!
After recovering from this horrible realisation, I tried to slowly peel the dough off the table- luckily it had only stuck onto the table at two places and the holes were relatively small. I did what I did last time, and covered the holes with a lot of flour and kept going knowing that the result wouldn't be too great and making sure I floured the table a lot each time. I think the sticking of the dough onto the table made the dough weak (it was wrinkly...) because I kept getting holes after that (just like the first time I made puff pastry) no matter how much I floured the table- the holes were forming just from the rolling out of the dough! I eventually lost count of how many times I rolled and folded the dough (I think it ended up being around 5 times) so I don't know how many layers it ended up being- but definitely far from a thousand =]. When I rolled the dough out to cut into circles, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the layers were still there, even if not perfect and you could actually see them!
Now. What happened to that cake I was talking about before?? I chose this time to quickly whip up a simple buttercake, which didn't take me long because I'd made it a few times before. It went pretty smoothly and then I divided the batter into a round mould and a rectangular swiss roll pan because I needed to cut it into the shape of a cartoon character. I figured a swiss roll pan would be better than a rectangular pan because it would save on baking time and I could easily cut them into rectanlge and stack them instead of baking a rectangular cake and having to slice it into layers.
So off the custard tarts and the rectangular cake went into the oven- the cake, I figured, would only need about 5-10minutes. In which time, I could quite fry a pad thai! Yeah. You can probably see where this is going. I'd made it the night before but I had some sauce left and some noodles so all it require was for me to get everything out and fry it for a couple of minutes. I made sure to check the oven at 5 mintues- the cake batter was still liquidy. At 8 minutes, it was still far from done. So I went on with my pad thai frying.......until about 15 minutes, I realised that I had completely forgotten about my cake! It had, by then, turned a dark brown and I knew instantly, I could not use it. Cutting into it, I realised it was hard. Actually, the texture was much like a cookie and it tasted like a really nice cookie too =] I had no problem eating up all of the baked-for-too-long cake but it ruined my plans for the cake I would bring to my friend's place. I ended up baking the round cake and just covering it with pink buttercream for a 'pink and fluffy' cake.
And the egg custard tarts? I ended up baking them for about 10 minutes more than the recipe said to because the pastry didn't look done after 20 minutes and was much too white. This however, meant that the custard was overcooked- and overcooked custard is not nice. Especially the smooth sily custard is supposed to be a main feature of chinese egg custard tarts. The pastry was layered, but in a weird way- the layers just would not adhere to each other! They fell off one layer at a time, so the pastry ended up much like patty cases.......The pastry also lacked the slight crispiness that you would normally find in egg tarts. Not sure if that was the recipe or me......
Overall, I guess it was a BIG FAILURE apart from the fact that the pastry was layered.
I think I've learnt my lesson now =]
So here's the recipe from Cafe of the East. The recipe wouldn't let me copy and paste but that's okay because I can type ;) But I figured the author didn't really want me to copy it exactly, so I figured I should try and write it out the way I did it -hence the dodgy instructions. If you're thinking of making these, I would suggest for you to read the original recipe =]
Flaky Egg Custard Tarts
150g white sugar
50mL evaporated milk
1. Bring water to boil. Add in sugar and mix until dissolved, leave to cool.
2. Combine 150mL of the cooled syrup, beaten eggs and evaporated milk
80 gm plain flour
5g milk powder
6g custard powder
1 egg yolk
12g icing sugar
100g plain flour
1. Mix all the dry ingredients of the water dough and then slowly add water until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Knead in the lard. Cover with cling wrap and chill in fridge for 20 mins.
2. Mix the flour and the lard for the short dough. It will be sticky. Cover and refrigerate this too, for around 20 minutes until it has hardened.
3. To make the pastry, you'd probably be better off referring to the original recipe or rather, the illustration provided here on how to make it.
4. Roll the pastry into roughly a 30cmx35cm rectangle. Using round cutters (I used a bowl) cut round circles large enough to fit into the egg tart moulds. You probably want to cut it so that you can still see the layers around the edges....
5 Preheat the oven to 240C(or as high as your oven can go. Put the fluted tart moulds onto a baking sheet. Line each mould with the pastry and fill up to 80% full with the custard filling.
6. Put the egg tarts in the oven and turn the temperature down to 200C celcius and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 180C and bake for a further 10 minutes or until they're done.