Friday, 13 April 2012

Pineapple Pie

A favourite Samoan treat on special occasions is Pineapple pie (Pai Fala). It’s a delicious sweet half moon shaped pastry.

One of my Samoan students, Sandra Ivala , gave me a few tips on how to make a Pai Fala. At her home, as in lots of Samoan families, there is a special extended family gathering after church every Sunday where traditional Samoan foods are enjoyed.

Sandra’s advice was:
“First make the filling and let it cool before rolling out the pastry on a floured surface.
Lift the pastry onto a plate and then trim the edges so you have a round shape. Then spoon the pineapple filling on one half of it before flipping the pastry over to make a half moon shape.

The last thing you want to happen is for the filling to escape and ooze out during the baking. So make sure to carefully pinch the pastry edges together all the way along,

It looks nice to decorate the pastry by using the prong of a fork to make a pattern along the edge. It’s also important to pierce the top of the pastry several times with a fork so steam can escape.
Then carefully lift the pastry onto the oven tray (no need to grease it) and bake it at about 175 degrees C for 15-20 minutes. You can tell it is done when the crust is a light golden brown. Let it cool slightly before serving.”

All the traditional recipes for Pai Fala which I looked at on the net are very rich in fat and sugar. As healthy eating is a focus of Samoan Language week this year I decided to give the Pai Fala a healthy make-over by reducing the sugar in the filling and using coconut milk instead of coconut cream in the pastry.

I have also made the recipe smaller. It still makes a sizeable dessert, but for an extended family gathering it can be easily doubled or tripled.

Pai Fala (Pineapple Pie)
This recipe will make 2 large pastries.

Pie crust:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
50 grams of soft butter
About 300 gm of coconut milk

1 440gm tin of crushed pineapple in natural juice
1 heaped tablespoon of custard powder
2-3 tablespoons of sugar


For the Filling
Pour the crushed pineapple into a sieve that is placed over a bowl.
Gently press onto it with the back of a spoon to extract the juice.
Mix the custard powder and the sugar into the juice.
Microwave 1 minute in a microwave safe bowl/jug. Then stir.
Microwave 1 further minute. It should have thickened. If not, microwave for a few more seconds.
Add the crushed pineapple, then leave the filling to cool

For the pie crust:
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips.
Add enough coconut milk (about 300gm) to make a scone like dough
Mix only enough until it holds together (do not over mix as it will become tough)
Divide into two halves.
Roll each out on a floured surface, lift over a dinner plate and trim the surface.
Spoon pineapple filling onto half of it, and flip over.
Carefully pinch the two edges together and then make a pattern with the prongs of a fork.
Prick a few holes into the top.
Lift the Pai Fala onto an oven tray and bake 15-20 minutes at 170 degrees C until golden brown.
Sieve icing sugar over the top, or sprinkle with a mixture of brown sugar and icing sugar. Let it cool a little before serving.
The Pai Fala can then be cut into slices/quarters. A small scoop of coconut ice cream and/or a fresh tropical fruit salad would be delicious alongside!

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