Royal Bakery (Chinese)

Bakeries have a special place in my heart, not just because I have a sweet tooth. My parents owned Garden Bakery – a Chinese bakery where I spent many hours tying red wire twisties around pastry bags and stuffing my face full of egg tarts. Not until I was older did I realize how hard my dad worked to provide for us. It’s not easy to move from a high paying cushy lawyer job in Hong Kong to become a baker in the U.S. of A without any prior experience in the kitchen. Among many other reasons, my parents wanted to move to the States for my brother’s and my education. Well… at least they had a 50% success rate; my brother and I took completely separate routes. He has a Ph.D from Princeton. But me?  I took the lazy road to eat my way through Texas. I blame my gluttony on the bakery.  Over a decade later and years after my parents sold the bakery, the bakery closed recently and converted into a place called “Happy Foot”… go figure.

But alas, I reunite with my beloved egg tart every time I stop by a Chinese bakery.  Tucked inside the large Asia World Market off of Legacy across from the even larger Cinemark, is a quaint little pastry shop, Royal Bakery.   

 

  

Egg tart, or dan ta, is one of my favorite Chinese desserts. Dan literally translates to egg (the custard filling) and ta is a Chinese pronounciation of tart. These gems are commonly found in Chinese bakeries and dim sum trolleys. They’re a very popular dessert in Hong Kong,  so much so that KFC and McDonald’s has added the Chinese treat to their menus in Hong Kong, assumably in lieu of their American apple pie.

Although egg tarts are a classic dish in Hong Kong it probably didn’t originate from Hong Kong. Like many dishes, the origins are debated. Some believe that the Chinese egg tarts evolved from British tarts filled with custard while others believe the treat was adapted from a Portuguese pastry known as pastal de nata, traveling to Hong Kong via Macau, a Portuguese colony*. Traditionally, dan ta is made of a tart shell with an egg custard filling but there’s other variations that involve green tea, chocolate, ginger, etc. I have yet to come across any of these flavors in Dallas (big surprise).

The egg custard texture is silky, creamy and a bit gelatinous. The ratio of milk (or evaporated milk) to egg varies from each bakery. I’m assuming Royal Bakery’s version has more milk since the yellow color is quite pale. The crust is similar to shortbread, a bit crunchy and crumbly. Egg tarts purist prefer a puff pastry crust but Royal Bakery’s crust didn’t stop me from devouring the tart in three bites.

I couldn’t leave a bakery without buying a minimim of three items so the other treats in my bag was a taro bun and a peanut butter bun. I wasn’t too fond of either. The taro paste was quite bitter; I prefer Vivian’s Bakery taro to Royal Bakery (although Vivian’s isn’t really that spectacular either. As for the peanut bun, the amount of peanut butter was less than generous and was a dry peanut paste. As the pictures can attest, sesame and dried coconut are popular items to sprinkle on top of Chinese sweet breads.

   

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