Last week or so while my family was still in this weird, almost obsessed period of making almost all Chinese sweets and baked goods from scratch, I went along with it and baked dan tats (蛋撻) or egg custard tarts. You may call me crazy but my argument is, there’s nothing like a fresh baked fill in the blank and if I know how to make it, why the hell should I buy it? Unless of course, I’m desperate to eat whatever I’m aping for. I know things like the egg custard tarts and Chinese-style baked pork buns would make your head scratch and wonder why bake it since it’s relatively cheap to buy? To sum up in a word, quality.
Before I keep ranting, here’s how I made them…
I didn’t realize that until my dad translated that for me when I found a recipe via eGullet which took me to this Chinese website called Leisure Cat. Funny thing is, my dad inscribed a bunch of dim sum recipes waay back about three decades ago and actually saved his little notebook. He compared notes and found it to be pretty much legit in terms of ratios. So, I used the crusts portion and went my own way when it came to the egg yolk custard filling.
There’s two crusts to make, yes. TWO. The “oil crust” is self-explanatory. It’s made with a pile of butter, lard and a smidge of flour (if you have to compare weights between the fats and the flour). The “water crust” is the low fat part of the dough. Both are essential to give you the crisp, flaky crust.
Once the doughs are mixed and refrigerated, you roll out to 1/8-inch and mold it into your tartlette pans. Mine happen to be shipped straight from Hong Kong when my aunt shipped a care package of green teas and a few Chinese New Year stuff. Awesome.
I happen to bake both the traditional egg custard and matcha green tea. They do look great for a second time attempt. The first time attempt was a failure because the egg custard according to the one from Leisure Cat went a little screwy.
*Please note, you got to invest in a good scale to weigh out your dry ingredients. As for the wet ingredients, I’ll approximate the conversions from milliliters to ounces
Egg Custard Tart (aka Dan Tat or 蛋撻)
Ingredients for the “oil crust”
224 grams all-purpose flour
196 grams lard
140 grams butter
Mix all the ingredients above until combined. The dough will be very sticky from the fats melting from the heat of your hands. Tightly wrap it in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Ingredients for the “water crust”
224 grams all-purpose flour
1 large egg
80 mL (or approx. 2.7 ounces or a little more than 1/3 cup) ice water
Mix all the ingredients from above until combined. Shape the dough into a rectangle. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. (Both crusts should rest at least 30 minutes.)
Ingredients for custard filling
140 grams granulated sugar
360 grams water
240 mL (about 4) whole eggs (I added an extra 2 egg yolks to enrich the custard)
60 mL (about 1/4 cup) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon custard powder (my amendment to enrich the custard and provide some stability)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons matcha tea powder (unsweetened variety; optional)
Add sugar and water into a saucepan and heat until melted and set aside to cool until slightly warm. In a bowl incorporate the milk and eggs. Take the sugar syrup and pour in a stream into the egg mixture. Whisk while pouring the syrup. Strain egg mixture, if necessary. Add vanilla and set aside to cool.
Forming the dough
Take the oil skin and lay it out on a lightly floured surface and place the water skin on top. Wrap the water skin around the oil skin and roll to ½-inch thick. Do the business letter fold and roll until ¼-inch. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat the business letter fold. Refrigerate. Fold the skin four times (in ½ then in ½) and roll ¼ -inch thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Take out the refrigerated dough, cut it in half. Refrigerate one part, the other will be worked on. Roll it to ¼ -inch thickness and mold it to the forms. Leave a ¼-inch lip over the mold’s edge (due to shrinkage). Repeat for the other half. Fill the pans with the cooled custard about 75% of the mold.
Preheat oven at 400°F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until it’s golden brown and the custard is set.