Hokkaido Bake Cheese Tart

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*** As of 3 May 2016, have baked 2 more batches of tarts with variations to the recipe. Visit http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/05/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-ii.html for the 2 recipes :) ***
*** As of 15 Jul 2016, have updated another recipe with slight variation to proportion and ingredients, and answered some frequently asked questions. Visit http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/07/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-iii.html for the recipe :) ***
*** As of 4 Oct 2016, have updated another recipe with slight variation to proportion and ingredients. Visit http://dreamersloft.blogspot.sg/2016/10/hokkaido-bake-cheese-tart-iv.html for the recipe) ***



Last December when I went to Tokyo, I discovered this BAKE Cheese Tart at Jiyugaoka. The queue was super long, I didn't have time and gave up eating it. Big regret and have been thinking about it ever since! So last month, when I went back to Tokyo again, die die must try!

Read up about the background of BAKE Cheese Tart, it actually originated from Kinotoya Bakery in Sapporo, Hokkaido. After the success of the tarts in New Chitose Airport and Sapporo, more shops were opened in Tokyo and subsequently Osaka, Fukuoka and even Hong Kong! I heard that there's a similar cheese tart by Pablo, which is also highly raved about. I saw it in Tokyo but the tart is kind of big and difficult to eat/manage so I didn't try. Instead, I prefer the BAKE Cheese Tart because of its size and perfect proportion of tart pastry to cheese custard.


And so, went to Jiyugaoka again (Sept 2015), queued about 30mins and bought 2 tarts. 1 for immediate consumption and the other, for breakfast the next day. The aroma of the tarts filled the entire shop (the street even) and I could see why people were willing to queue for it. The tart pastry was fragrant and crunchy and the filling was really sharp, cheesy and gooey/creamy. I took one bite after another and in no time, one tart was gone. Almost wanted to eat the other one there and then.


This was how the tart looked like after a day, chilled. Taste was still good, the cheese filling wasn't gooey anymore, but still very soft and fluffy, something like hanjuku cheese cake (which means 半熟 half-cooked, another popular type of cheese cake made by the Japanese).

After coming home, I kept thinking about baking this tart and started searching on the internet for recipes and attempts by other bakers. Only found one written, but there are several videos done by folks from Hong Kong (here, here and here). I think after the opening of BAKE Cheese Tart in Hong Kong, another bakery (in HK) also came up with a similar version, but call it lava cheese tart (流心蛋挞). So these videos are more of the lava cheese tart recipes. But I want the gooey type, not really the lava type.

Doesn't matter, at least I have something to work on. Based on the BAKE Cheese Tart website, 3 types of cream cheese are used, and I quote "Cheese from Hakodate in Hokkaido is distinctive for its mild flavor, while cheese made in Betsukai is full-bodied. We skillfully balance and blend these with a saltier French cheese." The tart pastry is twice-baked to make it more crunchy and delicious.


There's no way I could get any Hokkaido cream cheese here, so I used Philadelphia cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, with parmesan cheese and salted butter, as well as fresh milk and egg. These are the ingredients I have on-hand and familiar with them. Feel free to try out other cheese combination. I think I will do that next time.

As for the method - twice-baked tart pastry and a cooked cheese custard (tried baking a cream cheese tart before using normal method, result wasn't the same).


My first attempt was a disaster! By the time I started, it was afternoon. I was flustered and kind of rushing through, so yep. Never ever do test bakes when there's lack of time.

Mistakes
  • Baked tart cases for too long (180C, fan mode, 12 mins).
  • Cooked cheese custard for too long, consistency too stiff.
  • Piped too much cheese custard into each tart case.
  • Baked cheese tart for too long (220C, fan mode, 10 mins).
  • Baked all tarts at one go, instead of trying one by one for correct temperature and timing.
  • Proportion of ingredients used slightly different, cheese taste not sharp enough.
Well, the tart was burnt, the cheese filling was kind of mushy and not the gooey consistency I wanted. My son actually liked it (he likes anything cheesy, no pun intended), but I only let him try a bite; I ate one and the rest went into the bin.


Ok, tried again yesterday. Woke up bright and early, completed some chores and started at 9am. By the time the test-bake was completed, it was 3pm!! But super happy coz finally successful after 4 attempts! I had made 9 tart cases, test-bake first 4 piece by piece to get the right consistency, at the right temperature and timing, and in between made adjustment to the cheese custard as well.

Don't know how to take video, so here are some photos and step-by-step guide. The explanations are very detailed so please skip this part and go right to the end for a more concise recipe if preferred.


Start by making the tart case/pastry. I'm using a previous recipe which worked very well for me.

(A) Tart Pastry
  • 100g cake flour (updated 4 Oct 2016, use all purpose flour for more crunchy texture)
  • 20g icing sugar (updated 4 Oct 2016, use caster sugar for more crunchy texture)
  • 50g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp fresh milk
1. First, sift cake flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add cold salted butter cubes.
2. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
3. Add an egg yolk to the mixture.
4. Use a scrapper to mix the egg yolk.



5. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use the hands to form the mixture into a dough.
6. Add fresh milk, the dough will become very soft and pliable.
7. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place on a piece of clingwrap.
8. Wrap the dough and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.


9. After 1 hour, remove the dough from fridge. Dust a baking mat (and rolling pin) with flour, roll the dough thinly, about 3-4 mm thickness. Use a 7cm fluted cutter to stamp the dough.
10. Use a metal scrapper (dust with flour) to lift up the cut dough.
11. Place the cut dough over a tart tin (5.5cm top/3cm base) and gently press it downwards.
12. Using finger tips, gently press and mold the dough into the tart tin.


13. Manage to yield 9 tart cases (previous time was 10 because this time the dough was rolled thicker). Use a fork to poke holes at the base of the tart cases.
14. Bake the tarts at 180C, fan mode for 10mins.

 15. The tarts will be very slightly browned, but cooked already. After the tart cases are cooled slightly, remove them from the tins and let cool completely before use.


Next up, cooking the cheese custard. I realised that how the cheese tart turns out (whether runny or gooey consistency) depends very much on the custard. Although baking temperature and time could be used as variables to determine the consistency of the filling, it's harder to control. I'd rather control using the custard right from the start.

(B) Cheese custard (yield is more than enough to fill 9 tart pastry)
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 50g mascarpone cheese
  • 20g parmesan cheese
  • 30g salted butter
  • 100g fresh milk
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 8 - 12g corn starch ** explanations provided below
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • up to 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk for brushing on top of custard
1. Add cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh milk and salted butter into a small pot. Place the pot into a large, shallow pan/pot (I use wok) with barely simmering water. This is the bain marie method, to create a gentle and uniform heat for cooking custard. Keep stirring the mixture till everything is melted.
2. Once the mixture has melted, add sifted corn starch and icing sugar. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will thicken slowly.
3. Add full egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will further thicken into custard. Taste the custard and if desired, add some sea salt to increase intensity of cheese taste.
4. There may be still some fine lumps and grainy bits in the custard, sifting will yield a more velvety smooth custard. This is optional.


5A. Now, after sifting, this is the consistency of the custard. It's still quite runny. When I lift the spatula and draw patterns, the patterns are visible but disappears soon.

** At first, I added about 8g of corn starch and stop cooking the custard when the consistency is still runny.
** This consistency of custard will yield cheese tarts that are lava-like.


Test-Bake (1)
Using the cheese custard cooked with lesser corn starch and more runny consistency (5A), I filled 1 tart, brush top with egg yolk and baked it at 230C, fan-mode for 6 mins (realised that the key is to bake at high temperature, short timing). The filling turned out lava-like, which is what the Hong Kong folks baked.


Test-Bake (2)
Initially I thought it was the temperature and timing that affected the tart. I even pre-chilled the custard before baking (to set it). This time, I baked at 235C, fan mode for 5 mins. Tart browned much too fast and I had to stop baking at 5 mins. Still runny, lava consistency for the cheese filling.


Test-Bake (3)
Once again, I pre-chilled the custard, back to 230C, fan mode for 6 mins. After removing the tart from the oven, I knew (from the wobbly look and surface) it was going to be the same runny filling as (1) and (2). So I pop the baked tart into the fridge for 30 mins just for testing. Surprise, surprise, the consistency of the filling turned gooey, instead of runny!
But but, I wanted it to be gooey straight from the oven when it's warm, not chilled! So by now, I realised it could be the custard after all.


5B. So, I returned the custard back to the small pot and started cooking it bain marie again. Added about 2-3g more of corn starch and cooked the custard to a thicker consistency. When I draw line across the custard, it parts and joins back very very slowly.

** So total amount of corn starch is about 10-11g and custard is cooked longer, but not too long until it turns stiff. If too stiff, the cheese filling will not be gooey anymore, just soft.
** This consistency of custard will yield cheese tarts that are gooey-like.
** This is the consistency I am looking for, like the Japanese one!


6. So once again, I filled the cheese filling into the tart. The filling is firmer, can be piped more dome-shape (unlike previous version 5A, the filling shape is flat). (Based on the original website, the photos also show the cheese custard to be on the firmer side). Brush the top of the cheese tart with egg yolk.


Test-Bake (4)
Baked the tart at 230C fan mode for 6 mins. (Key is to heat at high temperature, short timing). When I cut the tart into half, I heaved a sigh of relief, FINALLY! The exact gooey consistency I wanted =D The cheese custard was so smooth and creamy, yippee!


7. Being confident enough, I filled the remaining tart cases with cheese filling, and sent them into the oven, bake at 230C, fan mode for 6-7 mins. During the last 2mins, must watch the tarts very closely, because if they get burnt, it's a very quick split second process.


There you go, the 5 precious Bake Cheese Tart. Although they are not exactly the same as the original, this is the best I could do and I'm happy with the result :)


Bake Cheese Tart
* makes 8-9 tarts, using 5.5cm top/3cm base baking tin
* The cheese custard yield is more than enough to fill tart pastry. Can either increase tart pastry recipe by 20% or reduce custard recipe by 20%

Ingredients

(A) Tart pastry
  • 100g cake flour (updated 4 Oct 2016, use all purpose flour for more crunchy texture)
  • 20g icing sugar (updated 4 Oct 2016, use caster sugar for more crunchy texture)
  • 50g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp fresh milk
(B) Cheese custard
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 50g mascarpone cheese
  • 20g parmesan cheese
  • 30g salted butter
  • 100g fresh milk
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 8-12g corn starch, depending on consistency desired
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • up to 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk for brushing on top of custard
Steps
  1. Start with tart pastry. Sift cake flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add cold salted butter cubes.
  2. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Add egg yolk to the mixture, use a scrapper to mix the egg yolk into flour mixture.
  4. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use hands to form the mixture into a dough.
  5. Add fresh milk, the dough will become very soft and pliable.
  6. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place on a piece of clingwrap.
  7. Wrap the dough and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.
  8. While waiting, prepare the cheese custard. Add cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh milk and salted butter into a small pot. Place the pot into a large, shallow pan/pot with barely simmering water. This is the bain marie method, to create a gentle and uniform heat for cooking custard. Keep stirring the mixture till everything is melted.
  9. Once the mixture has melted, add sifted corn starch (amount depends on final consistency of custard desired) and icing sugar. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will thicken slowly.
  10. Add full egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will further thicken into custard. Taste the custard and if desired, add some sea salt to increase intensity of cheese taste.
  11. There may be some fine lumps and grainy bits in the custard, sifting will yield a more velvety smooth custard. This is optional. Let the custard cool down completely.
  12. Back to the tart pastry. Remove the dough from fridge. Dust a baking mat (and rolling pin) with flour, roll the dough thinly, about 3-4 mm thickness. Use a 7cm fluted cutter to stamp the dough.
  13. Use a metal scrapper (dust with flour) to lift up the cut dough.
  14. Place the cut dough over a tart tin (5.5cm top/3cm base) and gently press it downwards.
  15. Using finger tips, gently press and mold the dough into the tart tin. Use a fork to poke holes at the base of the tart cases.
  16. Bake the tarts at 180C, fan mode for 10mins. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool After the tart cases are cooled slightly, remove them from the tins and let cool completely before use.
  17. Preheat oven to 230C fan mode.
  18. Fill the cheese custard into a piping bag. Pipe the custard into the tart cases, shape slightly domed. Brush custard evenly with egg yolk.
  19. Bake the tarts at 230C fan mode, for 6-7 mins.
  20. Once baked, remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm, freshly baked.

Update: Left 2 tarts overnight in an air-tight box, tart pastry turned a bit soft, not crunchy anymore (probably due to humidity and moisture from the cheese filling), but the cheese filling remained gooey and creamy. Simply pop the tarts into the oven for a few minutes, it will turn crunchy again, and the cheese is still creamy.

Goya Chanpuru

It's been 2 weeks since my vacation to Tokyo, and I have to say, I really miss Tokyo very much :(

Been a walking zombie since my return and didn't have the motivation to do anything, not even edit photos for the blog. I blame it on the haze and humid weather. The weather in Tokyo was cool and air was crisp, it felt so good there, food was delicious, shopping was great... I digress :p

As always, I had to buy some grocery and vegetables back, because they were so much cheaper as compared to prices in Japanese supermarkets here. Take for example, a large daikon (white radish) cost less than $4, whereas Isetan supermarket is selling medium size ones at $9+. Same goes for carrot, potato etc, and Japanese vegetables really taste much sweeter with better texture. But in SG, I really cannot bare to spend so much as there are cheaper alternatives; so every time I go Japan, it's so hard to resist the temptation to lug back some vegetables! Seriously I didn't buy that much, just the hardy root vegetables like, a daikon, 3 carrots, a bag of baby taro, some young burdock, a section of mountain yam, 2 goya (bitter gourd)... that's all and I gave some to my mum and MIL.


In Japan, people like to eat bitter gourd dishes during summer to revitalise energy and boast appetite. This particular dish, Goya Chanpuru is a very popular Okinawan home-style dish which is quick and easy to whip up. Ingredients are bitter gourd, pork belly or spam, firm tofu, egg, and seasonings are simple like soy sauce, miso and sesame oil.


The skin of Japanese bitter gourd is much rougher/uglier than the ones we see at local markets here, although I did see similar miniature ones before. One of these days I must try to see if they are the same. It's important to treat the bitter gourd before cooking to remove some bitterness. Basically cut the bitter gourd lengthwise then use a spoon to scrape off the white pith as much as possible. Next, boil some water with salt, blanch the bitter gourd and ready to use!


Goya Chanpuru (Stir Fry Bitter Gourd with Pork and Tofu)
(serves 3-4)

Ingredients
  • 1 bitter gourd
  • 200g pork belly
  • 300g firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake
  • 1 tsp miso
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • Handful of bonito flakes (optional)
Steps
  1. Cut the bitter gourd lengthwise, use a spoon to scrape off as much white pith as possible. Cut the bitter gourd into 0.5cm thickness. Boil some water, add a tsp of salt and blanch the bitter gourd for a minute. Drain and set aside.
  2. Drain water from the tofu, use a heavy object to press onto tofu for 10 mins to remove additional liquid. Cut into big cubes and set aside.
  3. Slice pork belly thinly and cut into bite-size pieces (I bought pre-sliced ones from supermarket).
  4. Add a tbsp of oil into frying pan, once hot, add pork belly and stir fry till opaque.
  5. Add bitter gourd and tofu and give them a quick stir fry.
  6. Dissolve the miso in cooking sake, then add the mixture together with soy sauce and dash of sesame oil into the frying pan. Give all the ingredients a quick toss.
  7. Lightly beat the egg and pour over the ingredients, give a quick toss. Plate and top with some bonito flakes if desired. Best served hot.


I like to top the dish with some bonito flakes, it enhanced the overall taste. Although the dish doesn't seem that appealing visually, it's very tasty and wholesome. Give this humble dish a try!

Meg's Pastry Studio - 3rd Q Orders

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Geesh, we are now in the last quarter of the year!

Took lesser cake orders last 3 months because I have been travelling once a month and had to turn down a few orders. Still very blessed and thankful to all my friends/customers who entrust me with the task of coming up with good tasting cakes that are tender in texture, less sweet and light overall. Design-wise, I tend to stick to something simple and pleasant looking, unless requested specifically.

Have also attempted a few cakes where part of the cake is filled and frosted with chantilly cream and complete with buttercream frosting and piping. I still prefer chantilly cream filling/frosting as it's less sweet and light, but it lacks the structure to hold together some piping designs, for example rosettes. This is where buttercream comes in handy. I tend to use Swiss Meringue Buttercream as I can reduce the amount of sugar and the buttercream is still stable to work with. Yet to explore Italian Meringue Buttercream (whether possible to reduce sugar), gotta try it one of these days. Sweet Buttercream is most direct and easiest to make but it's extremely sweet so I hope not to use it at all.

And oh, I've been eyeing the very "in" flower wreath cakes but yet to get down to try! It's essentially lots of buttercream and lots of piping practice so I've been procrastinating :p Ermmm, if I indeed get to try and successful, I'll definitely share :)

Here's a summary of some of my baked goodies for the 3rd Q :)





This was ordered by my Sec school classmate, J for her daughter's birthday. Haven't attempted a big cake for a long time. Each layer was baked individually, assembled, frosted, then the sides were trimmed to create this "exposed" look where the cake layers were visible. Definitely a visually pleasant looking cake.


My classmate ordered 2 cakes in fact, the first was for a home birthday party, whereas this one was for school celebration. Still the same design but all strawberries for this one.


I baked a gula melaka banana walnut cake for my yoga classmates and they enjoyed it very much. One of my classmate even ordered 2 cakes :)


The 7" round 5 layer cake is the one of the most popular/common cake size for small home celebrations, rainbow colours too. Matched with a handmade rainbow cake banner and a small plastic rainbow balloon cake topper (store-bought).


A friend ordered this cake for her ex-company's anniversary celebration. Grateful to her for trusting me, as she's in the US and basically we just confirmed everything through FB messenger. 


This was one of the cake where I combined the use of chantilly cream and buttercream frosting. Basically the cake layers were filled and crumb-coated with chantilly cream, but the overall cake frosting and decor completed using swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Strawberries are not in season and those available at supermarkets didn't look presentable, so I used raspberries instead. First created a look without the lychees and subsequently added them. Couldn't decide which design I prefer, loved them both!

Looking forward to more orders in the coming months :) Oct is quite free now, will be travelling in Nov and Dec, so please check the availability as soon as possible.