Another name for the Chinese Flaky Skin is thousand layers skin. The Chinese has an interesting way of calliông their pastries, one describes the mouthfeel: flaky skin (酥皮), and another is how it looks like 千层皮 or thousand layer skin. To me, it is a cross between the western short crust and puff/flaky pastry. In fact, it encompasses a short crust used to separate between layers of filo-like pastry.

Chinese pastries can broadly be classified into two categories: Huaiyang 淮阳式(淮阳酥皮)and Cantonese 广式(广式酥皮). The Huaiyang style has generally three ways of presentation while the Cantonese style has two.

I started doing these pastries when I was about 18 years old, while learning how to make moon cakes. That was after I have learned the western puff pastry and croissants. I found this method of creating layers much easier to handle and faster. In addition, various combinations of fats, salt and flour can change the pastry dramatically.

No matter which you decide to start with, Chinese pastries has two layers to be dealt with. The pastry layer is called the 油皮 (oily skin), while the cookie layer is called the 油酥 (oily flake). The cookie layer is short while the pastry is like a filo pastry.

Dough Ratios

Pastry Pastry Ratio
Fat Flour Water Oil Dough : Water Dough Ratio
HuaiYang淮阳酥皮 Oil Dough 1 2 (cake) 0 2 : 3
Water Dough 1 2.5 (plain) 1
Cantonese广式酥皮 Oil Dough 10 7 (cake) 0 1:1
Water Dough 1 5 (plain) 4

Presentation Methods

There are many ways to present the Chinese Crispy pastries. Combining these two pastries with a plethora of fillings, literally thousands of desserts and dishes have been created by the Asians. Here are just some examples and really, the sky is the limit.

HuaiYang (淮阳酥皮)
Shapes Cooking Mouthfeel
tau sar piah

tau sar piah

Hidden Layers (暗酥) Baked More bite
yam mooncake2

yam mooncake2

Spiral Layers (圓酥) Fried or Baked without egg wash Flakier and lighter
yam mooncake2

yam mooncake2

Parallel Layers (直酥) Fried or Baked without egg wash Same as spiral

 

Cantonese (广式酥皮)
Shapes Cooking Mouthfeel
charsiew sou2

charsiew sou2

Pastry as a wrap Baked with egg wash Light and luxurious
egg tart

egg tart

Pastry as lining Baked without egg wash, reverse oil and water dough Melt in the mouth/’shorter’ dough

Cooking Method

  1. Depending on the size, bake at 180-240°C for 9-15 minutes, the smaller your cakes, the higher the temperature and the shorter it bakes.
  2. Fried at medium heat till golden brown.
charsiew sou2

Char Siew Sou – Cantonese Flaky pastry

tau sar piah

Tau Sar Piah – Hidden layers, baked with egg wash

yam mooncake2

Yam mooncake – Spiral Layers, baked