Best pineapple tarts for CNY 2015

Best pineapple tarts for CNY 2015

With Chinese New Year just round the corner, you can find pineapple tarts just about everywhere and every bakery that churns them out is claiming that its tarts are the best.

A good pineapple tart should have the perfect balance of buttery crumbly pastry and a sweet yet tangy pineapple jam.

SundayLife! went on a hunt for the best pineapple tarts in town by putting a panel of four judges through a blind taste test.

We shortlisted 30 brands from a variety of stand-alone bakeries, bakery chains, restaurants and hotels. The selection also took into consideration popular brand names and recommendations from the judges.

The judges' decision was unanimous: They felt that the best tarts came from stand-alone bakery D'Pastry in Ubi Avenue, Peranakan restaurant True Blue Cuisine in Armenian Street and local patisserie chain Bakerzin.

The panel of judges comprises SundayLife!'s restaurant critic Wong Ah Yoke; food writer Foong Woei Wan; Mr Daniel Tay, founder of Bakerzin (he sold the business in October 2013), who now runs food creation and development company Foodgnostic; and Mr Daniel Chia, president of non-profit organisation Slow Food (Singapore) and culinary and catering lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic.

In the taste test, the judges ate their way through tarts from the 30 brands, scrutinising the taste and texture of both the pastry and pineapple jam.

True Blue Cuisine and D'Pastry have had their winning recipes for 11 years, when they started selling pineapple tarts.

True Blue Cuisine's chef-owner Benjamin Seck, 41, says: "Our recipe is the same one handed down from my great-grandmother. It is typical Nonya style, with a balance of spices. We also crimp the patterns on the pastry by hand."

Such attention to detail is also practised by D'Pastry's owner Patrick Koh, 40.

He jealously guards his recipe too - only he and his wife, Cynthia, 43, know it.

And despite the growing competition every year, they continue to churn out pineapple tarts - about 200 bottles a day - with their team of about 10 people.

Mr Koh says: "Because we are a small shop, we are able to do everything hands on and ensure that the recipe stays with us. We adhere to the highest possible standard."

Big boy Bakerzin has not lost out in terms of quality, even though it is a chain with 10 outlets.

Its Classic Yuan Bao Pineapple Tart - shaped like a gold ingot - was introduced just three years ago, although the chain has been producing pineapple tarts since 2009.

It uses premium Sarawak pineapples, which a Bakerzin spokesman says has the "perfect texture, acidity and natural sweetness".

She adds: "From 2013 to 2014, we saw growth of more than 15 per cent in the sales of pineapple tarts. This year, we're definitely expecting more. We have seen double-digit growth year on year since we started selling pineapple tarts ."

Good pineapple tarts are hard to come by, going by the results of the blind taste test.

Mr Tay says: "After eating all the tarts, we managed to pick only three winners, it's harder than I thought.

"All the bakeries need to continue to work hard to improve. Those that didn't make it to the list, it's like they didn't seem to make an effort.

"For example, it's okay to add flavours such as vanilla, as long as it is meant to enhance the product. It's all about the balance of pineapple to pastry."

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