Sweetheart Cake – 老婆餅 (Winter melon puff pastry) – Tips to avoid failure

2011-02-13 lo por cake

I really like the wiki’s English translation!  Quite fitting for the Valentine day tomorrow eh?  This is a wonderfully flaky Chinese pastry.  I was lucky to be living in Yeung Long (in Hong Kong) for a couple years when I was growing up.  I was living pretty close to the famous Chinese bakery store – 恆香老餅家 (Hang Heung) – Chinese site.  When you eat it hot out of the oven, the pastry was so tasty and amazingly flaky and light (yet there is a lot fat)   Buying a box as a gift and to  bring it out Kowloon just did not taste as good.

It is not easy to find good quality winter melon puff pastry Vancouver (Maybe there is, I just don’t know where.  Please post me comment to let me know where to find a store you think it it is as good as 恆香.  To solve this problem,  I took a dim sum making course from Masterwhy(怪師傅) – Chinese site to learn this kind of pastry last time I visited Hong Kong (after my Nepal tripback in 2008).  I’ve tried three times this time is by far the best result.  Still not good.  The shape is too puffy and tall and the pastry is not flaky enough.  I still continue to make a mistake and forgotten to double the dough recipe when I double the filling.I did not take good note during the course.  I have completely forgotten majority the steps and trick.  Had to guess some of the step and made some mistake…

First, I steamed the  filling first and let it cool down – this is enough for making 8 winter melon puff pastry.   One unfortunately thing with recreating Chinese dim sum recipe in Vancouver is that not all the ingredients are readily available.   I have been trying to find reasonable substitution but so far, I still couldn’t recreate exactly the same texture as the one I made during the course.

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I always hate this process during water dough mixing/kneading. One thing I have done this time that seems make it slightly easier to handle is first rub the lard into the flour and mix it well with sugar.  Then pour everything on the marble board and slowly a few teaspoon at a time adding in water.  It is still very messy and sticky, but much better than before.  One method to make this mess a bit easier to handle is kneading with heel of your palm.

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This mess actually serves a purpose!  When you can feel the dough become less sticky and more elastic (because enough gluten has developed), you know you are finally done.  But my shoulder and arm already told me they are done way before the dough was done.

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Use your digital scale to evenly divide up the water & lard dough.  Then warp the water dough around the lard dough.

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The next step, I really don’t remember a thing of what I have learned back two years ago.  I just wing it and I am certain I did not follow the same step as I did in the course.   I just gently press down the water + lard dough in the middle.  Then I confidently roll the pastry up without breaking the water dough later. Basically, there should be a thin layer of lard dough sandwiched between the water dough without breaking.  The key is applying right level of pressure.  Never roll too hard that you crack the dough .

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Now here is part I have definitely messed up this time.  I only folded 1/3 of the dough down and bottom 1/3 of dough up to form a square.   After checking this Chinese Flaky Pastry post, I realize I have totally missed a step!  I should rollup the dough like swiss roll first, then turn 90 degree and roll out the dough again just like above.

Use your digital scale to divide up filling in equal portions and shape them to be nice and round (easier for to warp pastry around round filling).    The right hand side is the flaky pastry.  Yes, it looks small, but it is enough to cover the filling.

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On well, still fairly successfully all pastry survived the baking without breaking or leaking!!

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To recap, here are the key points to remember to ensure success and avoid failure:

  1. find a different recipe for the filling that I can find all ingredients.
  2. remember to double my dough recipe!!!!
  3. mix the water dough ingredient (except water) well before adding water.  Add water slowly – much much easier to handle!!  Betty yet, let Kitchen Aid do the hard mixing work for you ;-)
  4. last by not least, MUST not miss any step.  Otherwise, there will not be enough layers of flaky pastry.

Not sharing the actual recipe because I cannot post that course material.  But I think those tips will likely help you (and  myself)  to create your own sweetheart cake in the future.   Chinese pastry is not simple to make!  Please appreciate it more!!


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