Pineapple and chamomile

(Pineapple and chamomile custard tart, lemon verbena cream)

I’ve been putting off writing this post because I had promised to write about the answer to the second question my Optometrist asked me :

2) What is your all-time favourite thing to cook

Truth is, I didn’t have an answer for him then, and I don’t really have an answer for it now. He simply couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a favourite dish. Pretend, he said, that it’s a perfect Saturday afternoon and you’re about to watch the football (he is a Wolves fan, who incidentally have been promoted to the Premier League). The big question is, what is your favourite thing to cook under these circumstances?

Truth also is, that I would bake. But doesn’t baking sound terribly limp-wristed under the circumstances? I would bake, because in reality, it would be Sunday afternoon before we got the football here, and usually on Sunday afternoons we have coffee and a bit of cake or a handful of freshly baked cookies. We would sit there picking crumbs off our shirts, while cheering or shouting at the tv.

We’d then spend the rest of the day lazing around, making plans to go cycling but never following through with it. I would slink back into the kitchen again, to bake something. By sundown, no cycling would have been undertaken whatsoever, and dinner would either be bubbling in a pot on the stove, or already laid out on the table. Our dinners rarely feature the same thing twice. I like trying out new recipes or making things up according to what I happen to have at hand. Which explains why I don’t have a ‘signature’ dish, as they call it.

I don’t think I’ve ever made the same dessert twice for B either. Even if it’s just a brownie with some ice-cream, the brownie will be from a recipe I hadn’t yet tried. I dreamt up the pineapple tart dessert above while I was making small pineapple tarts. Making a larger version was my impatient attempt at trying to speed up the whole process. Yes, stuffing each individual pastry is incredibly fiddly and it really tests your endurance, but the end result is definitely worth it.

The large tart contains pineapple jam and a layer of chamomile custard which I made recently after buying a chamomile plant from the markets. This plant (with a scent reminiscent of green apples and pineapple), and a potted lemon verbena, are the latest fragrant additions to my balcony garden. I had to denude the chamomile of all its sweet white flowers in order to make the custard – a recipe based on David Everitt-Matthias’ recipe for a chamomile cream. If you’re interested in making a similar tart, use the cream recipe below, omitting the gelatine and double cream. Serve the tart warm, with a dollop of plain cream or lemon verbena flavoured cream.

(If you can’t be bothered making anything as fussy looking as that, stick to the little pineapple tarts – the recipe by Pichet Ong is provided below (he calls them turnovers). For the pineapple filling, I followed Arfi’s recipe. If you can’t get a hold of fresh pineapple, you can also used the tinned kind. There’s a good recipe for it here, though I would advise erring on the side of caution and starting with less sugar than you think you need, and adjusting the sweetness later.)

Pichet Ong’s Caramelised Pineapple Turnovers:
(from the Sweet Spot by Pichet Ong)

for the caramelised pineapple filling :
2 small pineapples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
180g crushed palm sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon salt

for the pastry dough :
300g plain flour
50g custard powder
1 tablespoon dried milk powder
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
70g icing sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg

to glaze:
3 large egg yolks, beaten
whole cloves (optional)

To make the pineapple filling : Put all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan, set over low heat, and cook, stirring occasinally, until the sugar has dissovled and all the liquid has evaporated, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

To make the dough : Sift the flour, custard powder, and dried milk together and set aside. Put the butter, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the flour mixture, and mix until incorporated. Add the egg and mix just until the dough comes together; it will be quite sticky. Form the mixture into a ball, press it into a 1-inch-thick disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Unwrap the chilled dough and form it into 1-inch balls. Using your fingertips, press one ball into a thin 3-inch disk. Put 1 tablespoon of the pineapple filling in the center of the dough circle, fold over to make a half-moon, and pinch the edges together to seal. Twist off any excess dough, press and gently roll the half-moon shape into a ball. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Alternatively, roll the whole disk of dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch thickness, cut out 3-inch circles with a cookie or biscuit cutter, and fill and shape them. Put the filled balls 1 inch apart on the baking sheets, and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven to 175’C. Brush the balls with the egg yolks and stick a clove, if desired, in the centre of each. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.

Chamomile cream :
(from Dessert by David Everitt-Matthias)

450ml milk
30g fresh chamomile flowers
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
75g caster sugar
50g cornflour
100g unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 gelatine leaves
30ml lemon juice [I used yuzu]
125ml double cream, whipped

Put the milk and chamomile in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and cornflour together. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking to combine, then return the mixture to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from the heat, place to one side to cool a little, then stir in the butter bit by bit until it has melted. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes until soft and pliable. Squeeze out all the water, add the gelatine to the chamomile mixture and stir until dissolved. Stir in the yuzu juice.

Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool. Fold in the double cream and store in the fridge until needed.

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  1. Jen Yu said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    I’m so bad about getting around to comment these days, but I have to tell you that I love your plating and your shots and your creations. Really beautiful and enticing. I wish I could get my hands on yuzu. You rock, lady.

  2. La said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    I love the sweet spot, haven’t bought it yet, but copied some recipes, now I have one more.

    I love the black background, it shows off the various components well.


  3. cathy x. said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:04 am

    i love love love your photos!
    so when are you going to publish your own cooking book? soon? yes? πŸ˜€

  4. sara said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:06 am

    Mmmm, gorgeous photos! This dessert sounds totally delicious.

  5. Y said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    Thanks Jen, that’s a compliment and a half, coming from you!

    Cathy : How about I make you your very own personal copy. I’ve been thinking about making a one-off baking zine, actually.

  6. Caitlin said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    Caramelized pineapple tarts? Yeah, I’m there. I try not to redo recipes, but I’ll remake something the boyfriend says he likes in a heartbeat. He’s so picky that when I get a winner, I just want to stick with it πŸ™‚ Definitely don’t have a favorite thing though.

  7. Manggy said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    Oooh, I’ve always wanted to make those from the book! πŸ™‚ They look gorgeous, and while yours aren’t “tangerines”, it looks much more elegant this way.
    I don’t know why you’re so concerned about baking appearing “limp-wristed.” πŸ˜›

  8. Y said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:35 am

    Manggy, oh you know, people hear the word “baking” and they think it’s easy housewifery nonsense, whereas I think it can actually be quite complicated to do well. I didn’t really mean limp wristed, as in “limp wristed”!

  9. helen said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

    Beautiful, as always.

    As for favourites, I can’t pick a dish, but I can pick a category: Cakes. Glorious, glorious cakes.

  10. Sophie said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

    These photos are so lovely, the flavors remind me of Summer.

    I want to go to your house on Sundays :). Usually on Sundays I’m too lazy to bake because I’m too busy preparing stuff (aka meals) for the week :).

  11. Cakelaw said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

    What a gorgeous looking dessert! I bet that B loves it that you always make something new.

  12. barbara said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    What a fabulous combination. And Jen is right your photos are brilliant.

  13. shez said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

    the black tile of shoe-inspired cake post-age returns! i understand the reluctance to make a full batch of little gorgeous tarts. my enthusiasm tends to wane somewhat about halfway through any delicate task. especially when the pastry is crumbly and the jam is happily eaten from a spoon πŸ™‚

    oh, and when you do make that glorious, one-off baking zine (because now that you’ve said it, it must be true) can i have a copy? please?

  14. Nate said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 2:42 pm


    Such lovely food!

    I would like to include your recipe in our “Grow Your Own” roundup this month! For information on how to enter, please go to

    Aloha, Nate

  15. Amrita said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

    I always leave hungry whenever I visit your website. The tart looks yum. You’re on my blogroll now…

  16. Steph said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

    Your posts really do inspire me to bake. Pineapple tarts are one of my all time favourites but I never considered trying to make them myself until reading your blog. Now I am dying to do it. Thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  17. Karen said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

    Ooh gorgeous pineapple recipe and beautiful photos as always! As for favourite things to cook? I don’t have one either although I do have a soft spot for baking chocolate goods or slow-cooking like roasts or stews!

  18. FFichiban said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

    Oohh yummmm! As always your presentation is lovely ^^!

  19. linda said,

    April 21, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

    Lovely dessert, pretty with the flowers!
    Have been wanting to use chamomille for some time now but haven’t seen any edible chamomille around…I think I’ll have to wait till I have a garden so I can grow my own πŸ™‚

  20. Rosa said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 12:56 am

    wow, that looks stunning! A delicious dessert! I love the presentation…



  21. anna said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 1:09 am

    That all sounds delicious! I haven’t done any baking with chamomile yet but a chamomile custard sounds incredible!

  22. Marija said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 3:08 am

    Looks and sounds amazing!

    We drink a lot of chamomile tea here in Serbia. I don’t know why don’t we use it more in cooking.

  23. Aran said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 4:05 am

    beautiful! my chamomile plant didn’t make it through the winter and I love it so much… the apple-like aroma. gorgeous!

  24. Louise said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 8:53 am

    Oh how I adore chamomile. My plants are barely poking their curly leaves up. I hope it gets warm soon. Thank goodness I rooted tons at the end of the summer last year. This recipe sounds ever so intriguing…Thanks for sharing, Y.

  25. Dana said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

    Nice flavour combo! I’m going to grow chamomile this summer – I’ll save this recipe for when I have my harvest!

  26. Arwen from Hoglet K said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

    I’ll have to get a chamomile plant. I’ve been feeling sad to have no flowers on my balcony, but I thought the space was better used by edible things. Chamomile would let me have my flowers and eat them too.

    This dessert looks beautiful. It’s nice that you’re making good with the last of the summer fruit.

  27. Christie, Fig and Cherry said,

    April 22, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

    Ha! At evading exercise!

    I love pineapple so this dessert really takes my fancy. Styling is also wonderful (as usual!).

  28. Zita said,

    April 23, 2009 @ 1:36 am

    Oh..Y.. this is so simply beautiful, you might not have a “signature dish” but every dish you’ve made had your “signature” on it, because you made it with passion πŸ™‚

  29. lisaiscooking said,

    April 23, 2009 @ 8:42 am

    I don’t think I could answer that question either, but your tart and custard look amazing!

  30. Eva said,

    April 23, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    When I hear chamomile, usually the only thing I can think of is tea for sick children, however, you make it look all grown-up and very appealing!
    PS: Would be hard pressed to come up with only one favourite dish, too..

  31. uk chefs forum said,

    April 24, 2009 @ 1:28 am

    So pretty

  32. Julia @ MΓ©langer said,

    April 24, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    I wonder if a lot of people who like to cook and bake don’t have a ‘signature dish’ as such. I don’t. And until now I haven’t really thought about it. But interesting comment Zita made…..I agree. I actually think your style and your approach to your dishes, which is very unique, comes through. That’s the signature, I guess!

    BTW, this looks delicious. The combination of flavours is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything with chamomile. I must try.

  33. Tartelette said,

    April 25, 2009 @ 12:47 am

    Absolutely mouth watering! Love the chamomille cream paired with the tart. It’s like “a la mode” x10 in the sophistication department!

  34. cakebrain said,

    April 25, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

    I’m very fond of Ong’s book and haven’t tried this recipe yet. I’m glad you posted it. Gorgeous photos and dessert!

  35. Sophie said,

    April 26, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

    Waw, what an amazing & experimenting recipe!!
    Super delicious!!
    I love verbena!!

    Great dessert: superb!!!

  36. W said,

    April 28, 2009 @ 10:17 am


    Looks great as always. Was happy for the picture with the spoon for a sense of scale… until that pic, I imagined something smaller, like one of those Forest Gump box of chocolates bits.

    Suppose the flowers should have given it away though.

    p.s. when are you and B coming to visit?

  37. Saturday Blogsurfing : Baking Delights - Baking Tips and Recipes said,

    May 3, 2009 @ 4:17 am

    […] Her images are gallery ready and recipes are always unique and wonderful.Β  Case in point?Β  This Pineapple and chamomile custard tar with lemon verbena […]

  38. lemonpi » Rainy day baking said,

    January 25, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    […] recipe is the same one posted here several years ago. All you need to do now is wait for the rain. Then […]

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