Fresh Orange Tart

Feeding teenage boys is a doozy. I grew up with two sisters, and had absolutely no idea just how much a boy turning into a man can eat. If you have a little munchkin getting underfoot now, beware: In just couple of years he’ll shoot up seemingly overnight and starts devouring everything in sight. And I mean everything. All the time. Teenage boys are like vacuums: Never-ending suction of food.

You suddenly find yourself in a grocery store a lot more, to keep up with the growing demand. And when you come home and walk in with ten overflowing bags, the hungry creatures are already waiting. (I swear they must have some kind of a sixth sense – normally they can stay buried in their rooms for hours, but when they sense food, they’re in the kitchen in a nanosecond).

“I’m starving! What did you get?”

“You know, the usual: bread, milk, cheese, some peppers and tomatoes… Oh, I’ve also got some bloody oranges so you’ll have something to take to school for a snack.”

“Bloody oranges?” the older one asked with a smirk.

“Oh, those poor guys!” countered his brother. “Did they get into a fight or something?”

“Oh yeah, and it must’ve been a hard one. Look how badly bruised they are!”

They played with me for couple of moments, bouncing ironic comments off each other, having fun at their mother’s expense. (Warning # 2: don’t expect too much gratitude or respect from your teenage offspring. It’s just not what they do, so save yourself some disappointment and wait till they’re about 25). When they finally had enough, they reminded me of yet another nuance of the English language, which, as hard as I try, will never be my mother’s tongue. Bloody orange and blood orange are obviously two very different things: One you wouldn’t want to touch unless you’re a vampire, while the other is a sweet, juicy, crimson colored delicacy. Perfect to make some afternoon dessert from.

So I promptly decided the boys could have something else for a snack (they inhale anything, after all!), and started pondering what to make. Blood oranges have a thin skin, gorgeous dark red flesh, and tart-sweet taste reminiscent of raspberries.  I didn’t want to just hide them in some cake, I think they deserve better: I wanted to give them an opportunity to shine. And I have to say that the combination of a flaky crust, and candied orange slices placed on a bed of a sweet custard turned out to be just the perfect solution.

Beautiful presentation and a bloody good flavor to boot.

Orange tart detail

Fresh Orange Tart

Crust:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose four (for a gluten-free crust Bob’s Red Mill Pie Crust Mix works well)
  • ¾ cups (3 oz.., 90 g) powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz., 114 g) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
Orange-Vanilla Custard:
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 20 g (2 tablespoons) cornstarch
Candied Orange Slices:
  • 5 organic oranges, sliced very thin (I used combination of navel oranges and blood oranges)
  • 8 tablespoons of orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur

Oranges in a bowl

Method:
  1. To make the crust: Place flour, powdered sugar, salt, and diced butter in the bowl of your food processor; pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg, egg yolk, and orange zest, and pulse until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  2. Butter and flour a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper into a circle, and ease it into the pan. Dock the dough with a fork and put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C).
  3. Fill the dough with pie weights or dried beans in a parchment paper, and prebake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and bake for 10 – 15 minutes longer until golden. Let the crust cool completely before filling.
  4. For the custard filling: Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Blend all the ingredients for the filling. Carefully pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until just set but still a bit wobbly in the center. (If the custard browns too quickly, cover the top with aluminum foil.)
  5. To make the candied oranges: Blend orange juice, marmalade and orange liqueur until smooth; pour the mixture into a big, shallow pan.
  6. Slice the oranges into a very thin slices and arrange them in a single layer into the pan. Add water until the slices are submerged, and simmer them on a low heat until they are soft (20 minutes). Drain them well and let cool.
  7. Meanwhile, reduce the syrup from cooking oranges until very thick, jelly-like consistency.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325 °F (160 °C). Arrange the orange slices in a concentric pattern on the custard, brush them liberally with the reduced sweet syrup and bake until the top is lightly browned.

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