The personal stories and adventures of a nerdy food lover.

The Cooking Chook does Chinese New Year – Flaky Egg Tarts

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Tết in Vietnamese, is coming up in a couple of weeks and it’s a huge event in The Cooking Chook calendar. It involves a lot of food, incense and little red envelopes containing ‘lucky’ money. For this year’s festivities, I thought I would have a crack at a couple of recipes and contribute to the feast that my Mum will be preparing. I figure there is no point in mucking around, so I might as well try something that scares the bejesus out of me – Flaky Egg Tarts. Why do Flaky Egg Tarts scare me so much? It’s the pastry making process. I’ve never made my own pastry before and store-bought pastry won’t do because the authentic pastry for these tarts use lard (pig fat) not butter. I could’ve taken the easy route and just used a butter pastry, but I needed to face my fear head on. For those who have never worked with lard before (like me), be aware that it doesn’t take much for it to melt (including the heat from your fingers) so leave it in the fridge until it is required, otherwise you’ll end up with a squishy, unworkable mess. The other thing I should mention is the smell of lard when it starts melting. Because it’s pig fat, it smells just like that; a bit piggy and a bit fatty. Not overly pleasant. I consulted three recipes, one for the ingredients and the other two for the method. I’ll include links to them in my notes section below. I didn’t quite manage to get the many layered effect in the pastry that you see these tarts have at Yum Cha restaurants. The pastry was flaky but I think I was a little too heavy handed when I was lining the tart tin, so the layers in the pastry weren’t as prominent as I would have hoped. They still tasted really good though! This recipe makes roughly 12 egg tarts.

Flaky Egg Tarts

Water dough
¾ cup (110g) plain flour
3 tsp (10g) custard powder
¾ tbs of beaten egg
28g lard
45ml water

Oil dough
⅓ + ¼ cup (90g) plain flour
60g lard

95ml hot water
3 tbs (60g) caster sugar
2 small eggs
25ml evaporated milk
1 tsp rum (I used Bacardi 8 dark, or you could use rum or vanilla essence)

Start off with dissolving the sugar in the hot water for the filling in a small jug. You need to do this before anything else to allow the sugar water enough time to cool completely before adding the egg, otherwise you’ll end up cooking the egg.

There are two ways you can make the water dough, by hand or use a food processor. I used a food processor, but I will also outline how to make it by hand for those who don’t have a food processor. For those who do have a food processor, chuck all ingredients for the water dough except the egg and water into the food processor bowl and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and water, and pulse again until it forms some sort of dough. Pull the dough out and lightly work it into a ball (don’t knead it), wrap it in cling wrap and whack it in the fridge to rest. If you don’t have a food processor; sift the flour and custard powder together in a bowl. Rub in the lard until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and incorporate well. Add the egg and water, and incorporate using your hands until it forms a dough. Knead the dough lightly until it becomes smooth, wrap it in cling wrap and whack it in the fridge to rest.

Start of water dough Water dough Gently pull together water dough into ball

To make the oil dough, place the flour into a bowl and rub the lard into the flour until it comes together to form a dough. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and whack it in the fridge to rest. This is the messy part of the recipe because the lard melts so easily. I recommend leaving the lard in the fridge until you are ready to make the dough, and running your hands under cold water for a minute or two to cool your hands. Make sure you dry your hands before making the dough!

Oil dough

You should let both doughs rest for 30 minutes before pulling them out again.

To prepare the pastry, dust your work surface with flour and roll out the water dough so that it’s big enough to wrap the oil dough in. Wrap the oil dough in the water dough and press the edges together to seal. Roll the dough out flat into a rectangle shape, being careful that none of the oil dough breaks through the water dough. Fold the top third of the dough 2/3 of the way down the rectangle.

Put oil dough in water doughWrap oil dough in water doughFold top third

Then fold the bottom third up over the top of the first fold.

Fold up bottom third

Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll the dough out to form a rectangle and seal the folds. Repeat the folding and rolling 3 more times. Dust your work surface as needed if you’re finding your dough getting a bit sticky. Wrap the dough up again in cling wrap and whack it in the fridge to rest again for 30 minutes.

Turn 90 degrees

While the pastry dough is resting, get started on making the filling. Make sure the sugar water has completely cooled. Add the egg, evaporated milk and rum. Use a fork to lightly combine the ingredients, then sieve the mixture twice to remove the egg white that hasn’t incorporated. This step is really important to ensure that your filling isn’t lumpy and retains its yellow colour when baking.

Combine ingredients for filling Sieve filling twice

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

After the pastry dough has sufficiently rested, pull it out of the fridge, dust your work surface again and roll out to a thickness of 3mm. Use a round cookie cutter that is slightly larger than your tart tin to cut the pastry dough out (mine was 7.5cm in diameter). Line the tart tins with the pastry dough and gently press in the bottom and the sides. Fill the tart shells 80% full and chuck the tart tins in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 180°C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling has set. In this last part of baking, you need to watch the tarts with a keen eye. If you see the filling start to puff up, pull the oven door open slightly to cool the oven down. You don’t want the filling to puff up too much, because when you pull the tarts out to cool, the filling will collapse in the middle. To test if the filling has set, insert a toothpick or skewer into the filling and if it comes out clean, it’s set. Pull the tarts out of the oven. Leave the tarts to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then pull out onto a wire rack to cool completely. I put the tarts in cupcake liners before serving.

Line tart tin Pour in filling Yummy Flaky Egg Tarts

Note: As I mentioned above, I consulted three different recipes. I used this one for the ingredients, this one for the method, and this one for the method as well. In regards to the eggs for the filling. I used large eggs (approximately 50g each) for this recipe, so I combined the left over egg from the water dough and added one extra egg for the filling to prevent wastage.

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35 thoughts on “The Cooking Chook does Chinese New Year – Flaky Egg Tarts

  1. Egg tarts rock my Chinese food world. Can’t wait for CNY so I have a good excuse to eat more of them. Your tarts look pretty darn perfect!

  2. These look so yummy! And pretty!

    Lard, huh? …I have never used lard before. Are there any substitutes for lard? I don’t know why I’m so scared of it, I just picture my ass being made up of lard and if I consume lard, my ass will balloon. haha. But these egg tarts might be worth it.

    • Thank you! I do believe you could substitute lard with butter or vegetable shortening, but they will make the pastry taste different. Eggs tarts are worth it regardless of what ‘fat’ you use 😉

  3. Pastry scares me too, well done for overcoming your fears. A delicious outcome 🙂

  4. Wow! This is so ambitious! I grew up with scoffing egg tarts at yum cha, but it never occurred to me to try and make these at home. I really enjoyed your post and wondered if you were interested in submitting this post to a new event called Our Growing Edge. The event aims to compile a monthly snapshot as to what bloggers are doing in terms of new challenges with food. This monthly event aims to connect and inspire us to try new things.

    A growing edge is the part of us that is still learning and experimenting. It’s the part that you regularly grow and improve, be it from real passion or a conscious effort. 

    I hope you can make it.

    More info can be found here:
    or here:

    • Thanks Genie! I never considered making egg tarts either until I started this blog. I made a promise to myself to try a new recipe every week, and I decided to share those experiences through my blog. I’ll have a look at those links you’ve provided, sounds like a really cool project 🙂

  5. I spent the weekend cracking my head thinking of something good to bake for CNY – thanks to you I now have something on my list!

    Looks amazing!

  6. These look just so perfect. The Hungry Dad adores these tarts – yum cha isn’t yum cha without several [as far as he’s concerned].

  7. I absolutely LOVE eye tarts! I’ve actually never thought about making them before, looks quite tough but you did an amazing job. Might have to try it sometime!

  8. These look so high effort. I commend you because they turned out beautifully and look delicious. I am a lazy cook and don’t think I’ll be making them any time soon.

  9. Thanks for the recipe! We are excited for the Chinese New Year celebrations over the next few weeks here in Seattle; Sure to eat lots of yummy treats!

  10. You did a wonderful job! I have yet to attempt a puff pastry. I love love love flaky egg tarts.

  11. Your egg tarts look delicious! I’ve always wanted to try to make these, when I get better at baking i’ll attempt this 🙂

  12. you make the tart so beautifully and looks so easy..
    i’ve never waste my 3$ for a pairs of egg tart for now on….

  13. OMG. That’s the secret to making dahn tat so good — LARD! :3 Good on you. I must try making these someday!

  14. I am drooling right now! Yumm

  15. Totally making these this weekend.

  16. Very impressive!! I think the best egg tart is the Potuguese style ones (my fav is Lord Stow in Macau but I’ve never been to Lisboa!) and the dough is similar to layers of buttery-flakey philo.. the top of the custard is caramelized and super creamy, more like a pudding.. You must try it!! However, it is rumored that the way they get it to be super yummy is an extremely high heat in the oven.. like 700F!

  17. I’m impressed – but I’m lazy too. I think I’ll let my local dim-sum place make these for me (grin). Mmmmm…

  18. Having just spent a weekend eating the Portugese version, I’m fascinated to see the similarities and differences. Must try one of these and compare the taste too.

    • Hi Fiona! I think the difference is with the ingredients of both the custard and pastry. With the chinese custard, there is no cinnamon and less milk. And with the chinese pastry, lard is used instead of butter. Definitely try it out, even if it’s just to eat egg tarts! 🙂

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