Geeky Stats Cooking: Paifala - Samoan Pineapple Pasties

I am very very slowly plodding my way through the kitchens of some of the lesser visited countries of the world, as I aim to cook a recipe from every country that I've not had a blog visitor from (according to Google Analytics stats).

So far, I've ticked off Albania, Azerbaijan, Aruba, Monaco, The Isle of Man, Georgia & Gibraltar. Pretty slow progress since it has been virtually a whole year! Must do better in 2014…

Anyway, I made this one back in July, and somehow it slipped well and truly through the blogging net!  As part of our culinary world tour, we sampled Paifala from Samoa - pineapple and custard half-moon pasties. We ate it as a weekend Sunday breakfast treat, which left Mini-M asking for several weeks after if there was any pineapple cake left. There wasn't - it didn't last long!

You can tell this isn't a recent photo…. it was clearly taken in the sunlight! Not much of that around these parts in November
Dairy free pastry is generally a bit temperamental and prone to being really tough, which made this recipe great to convert, as a fair amount of both the fat and liquid in the pastry comes from coconut milk rather than butter. 

My recipe is based on this one at Samoa Food, which itself credits this interview and recipes with a Samoan deli and cafe owner in San Diego - a circuitous route!

I've halved the quantities and made it dairy free by changing a few things here and there. Be warned - the night before you want to make these, take a tin of coconut milk and stick it in the back of your fridge to chill. That way the thicker cream and thinner milk will separate naturally.

Samoan Paifala (makes 2 large pasties which serves 4)
  • 1 tin crushed pineapple in juice
  • 100g sugar
  • 60ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp custard powder (the original recipe said cornstarch, but I didn't have any, and custard powder is pretty much the same thing)
  • 30ml juice from the crushed pineapple
  • 340g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30g dairy free margarine
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • pinch salt
Carefully open your tin of coconut that has been in the fridge, and scoop off the thick cream that has risen to the top. Keep for making the crust - use the runny liquid at the bottom of the tin for the filling.

Make the filling first - it has to cool to room temperature before being used.
Put the pineapple, sugar and coconut milk in a small saucepan and heat slowly and gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring up to a simmer.
Carefully mix together the custard powder and pineapple juice to a paste, then add it to the mixture in the pan, stirring until completely dissolved. 
Continue to cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens.
Take off the heat and allow to cool down completely to room temperature before continuing.
Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan).
For the crust, mix together the flour and baking powder and pinch of salt. Rub in the margarine, then stir in the coconut milk and mix until combined. Don't overwork otherwise it will get tough - you want it to be just sticking together as a dough.
Split the dough into two pieces, and roll each one out into a circle that is between 0.5 and 1cm thick.
Pile half of your filling onto half of each circle - leave a generous border of around 2cm to make sure the filling doesn't leak out during baking - and run a dampened finger around the edges.
Fold over the pastry to make a semi-circle, and use a fork to crimp down the edges.
Spike a couple of holes through the top of the pastry to let steam escape.
Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for around 35 minutes until golden.
Cool before eating - molten pineapple custard filling is painful!

Patience…. good things come to those who wait. Burned mouths come to those that don't
You could make smaller individual ones, however I wanted to minimise the amount of rolling and reworking I had to do to the pastry.

Although it would be less traditional, this pastry would work well with lots of fillings - sweet or savoury - since it is unsweetened itself. Continuing the fruity theme, I think a cherry version would pretty special - or good old apple which is always a winner, particularly with the custard.