Kung Hei Fat Choi!
It's such a pleasure living in a large, multicultural city. If you have a craving for injera, you only have to go a couple of blocks in either direction to stuff your face. We've got parades for every festival you could ever dream up. You can go down any main street at two in the morning and hit at least seventeen open sushi bars. We've got multiculturalism up the ying yang. I mean, check out this proud Vancouverite:
Totally bad ass.
This weekend the whole city celebrated Chinese New Years. Red and gold was everywhere. Dragons danced down the streets. The smell of the most delicious food known to man fills the air. And we all stuff our faces until we can't even utter "Kung Hei Fat Choy" without wanting to barf.
Even though we've never been to Asia, we really feel connect to the traditions that have been passed along within our city. And the best way to connect to international traditions? Bake their desserts and eat it.
So what is it?
Pineapple Cakes, or fengli su, are probably more cookie than cake. It's got a shortbread-like texture on the outside, and is filled with jam on the inside. Traditionally, the pineapple jam is nice and thick - made with winter melon. We made a westernized version without the melon, just because most of your local grocery stores might not carry it. These cakes are usually pressed into square forms and wrapped in lovely paper.
When did it first pop out of the oven?
It's been showing up in Taiwanese airports everywhere as far back as we can remember. Really, it's the country's own "Tourist Cake". I assume they've been around for as long as Taiwan has had tourists.
Is it worth my time?
The dough is a bit fussy, yes. And the jam does take a bit of time. But, if you aren't worry about making your cakes perfectly square or a bit of pineapple leaking out, you'll be just fine.
Got a recipe?
Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes
slightly adapted from Zester Daily
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons nonfat milk powder
3/4 cups butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 egg yolks
1) In a mixer, whip up the butter, shortening, and confectioner's sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to mix until fully incorporated. Sift your dry ingredients into your wet: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and milk powder. Mix very well, until a thick wet dough is formed. Split the dough in half, roll each half into a log, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
While it's resting, make the filling:
1 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
a dash or two of cayenne pepper
1) Take your water and mix in the cornstarch. Put your pineapple chunks, water mixture, cayenne pepper and sugar in your saucepan and boil down for about five minutes. Blend well in your food processor, then return the pan and reduce down more, about ten minutes. Let cool before using.
1) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Split each dough log into twelve pieces. Roll the pieces into balls. Press out the center with a finger tip so that you have a hole traveling down each center of the ball. Fill with pineapple jam. Sacrifice a couple of your dough balls and use about 1/2 teaspoon of extra dough to close off tops. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of your cakes are golden. Cool and serve with extra pineapple jam.