blood orange tart: buttery pastry with almond cream and ruby citrus ::::
Since moving to California, I have an overwhelming urge to pluck the citrus fruit growing in heaps in your yards. If you see me squeezing your lemons, sniffing your oranges, or eyeing your kumquats, pay no mind. Honestly, you really don’t understand the bounty you have.
Since moving from the Midwest less than a year ago, I am still awe-struck by the number of fruit trees dotting the yards of neighbors. And equally amazed at the amount of fruit, just dripping off of the trees, and often onto the ground, rotting away. When I see a pile of oranges, I immediately think of how to juice them, or peel them, or candy the rinds.
Although I would never steal fruit from a neighbor’s yard, I daydream about covert midnight acquisitions often. The thrill! The uses in the kitchen! The taste! Instead, I sheepishly pad over to the grocery story or farmer’s market, paying for my produce properly. I paid pennies at the local farmer’s market for its blood oranges aplenty so I shouldn’t complain about those sad looking fruits the neighbors are so blatantly ignoring like they’re just ornamental or something. Some trophy tree in your yard, right? It was easy to figure out what to do with the ones I bought, the ones I so lovingly chose, the ones I couldn’t wait to get home to CUT UP.
In preparation for my trip to the Big Sur Bakery last week, I checked out the restaurant’s cookbook for a taste of the fare. Thwarted by the Highway 1 road washout, we had to skip our trip to Big Sur entirely. Big Disappointment, seeing as I really wanted to go to the bakery to revel in the fresh, local produce. I’ve had to settle for just the cookbook. Not only did the potato frittata (winner!) and mushroom pizza (haven’t tested yet) catch my eye, but so did the sparkling Marmalade Tart. It was clear. I had to make it with my bloody little friends.
I cubed and zested.
I mixed. I chilled. I waited. I rolled.
I spread. I sliced and dotted. Then I didn’t do anything but sit back and smell the dreamy aroma from my kitchen. The baking tart was the most wonderful smell ever. The combination of the buttery pastry, the almond cream, and the orange was incredible. Although you might just be inclined to stuff huge slice in your mouth when cool, remember this is a heavy, butter-laden masterpiece. A small slice is all you need. Well, to start anyway.I had originally planned to serve this to a group of friends then found out someone had a nut allergy. So what else could I do? Eat it. All. The husband and I ate the entire thing. Peach wasn’t too interested in cooked oranges and Grub hasn’t mastered the fine art of eating nutty food. Lucky for me and Eat. We were not disappointed, even with our vacation change.
Author: story of a kitchen (adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook's Marmalade Tart)
Recipe type: dessert
Almond cream: ⅔ cup almond meal, toasted
6 tablespoons salted butter, softened
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons almond extract
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the tart dough: 1½ cups cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup sugar
grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons orange juice
For assembling the tart: nonstick cooking spray
1 cup apricot jam
2 medium-sized blood oranges (instructions on how to cut follow below)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Start on the Almond Cream: Scatter the almond meal on a sheet pan and toast until golden, about 6-7 minutes. Depending on how thin your layer will predict toasting time, so watch carefully so as not to burn. Cool completely.
For the tart dough: Combine butter cubes with flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt in a bowl. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Using a paddle attachment on an electric mixer, mix the chilled mixture until it's very crumbly. Add orange juice and continue to mix until dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or as long as a week.
Continue with making the Almond Cream: Using a paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream butter, powdered sugar, almond extract, and salt until light and fluffy.
Add the beaten egg yolks a little bit at a time, mixing until incorporated. Then add the flour and mix well.
Fold in the almond meal. The cream will look smooth with the consistency of peanut butter.
Keep at room temperature until ready to use. I actually made this a day ahead, refrigerated it, then brought it to room temperature before using.
Continue with making the tart dough: Set the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Fit a cookie sheet (10 x 14 inches or larger) with parchment paper.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out over generously floured surface until ¼ inch thick. Cut a 12 by 16-inch rectangle.*
Carefully transfer the dough rectangle to the prepared cookie sheet. Spread jam over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all the way around the tart.**
Spread the almond cream over the jam. Fold the edges of the dough over to create a crust (to prevent jam from oozing out). Place tart in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prepare the citrus: Cut off both ends of the fruit with a sharp knife. Place the orange on a cutting board, one cut end down.
Following the curve of the fruit, shave off pith to reveal juicy flesh of the orange and leaving no pith behind.
Place citrus on its side and cut it crosswise into ¼-inch rounds, carefully removing seeds as you come across them.
Assemble the tart: Remove tart from refrigerator and arrange the citrus rounds over the almond cream, placing them close together but not overlapping. I also put in some semicircles to fill in the spaces.
Brush the edges of the tart with a beaten egg.
Sprinkle sugar over the entire tart, sprinkling more on the dough edges.
Dot citrus rounds with butter (to prevent them from burning).
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until almond cream and crust are a deep golden brown. Remove tart from oven and allow to cool on the sheet for at least 15 minutes.***
Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are great for a decadent breakfast the next morning.
Makes one 10 x 14-inch tart
* Don't throw away those leftover dough scraps! Roll thin, place on baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake until browned.
** My biggest problem with the tart: my border was too big. I measured just over an inch but there was also a little spread with baking. I'd recommend ¾ inch instead, or smaller if you think you can keep your jam from oozing out. My large border impeded blood orange placement to its fullest potential in this blood orange tart, you know, the whole point of this recipe.
*** If short on time and planning this for breakfast instead of dessert, assemble everything the night before except the citrus rounds and butter dots on top. Chill the tart overnight (jam and almond cream spread on top like the photo above) wrapped well. Add the citrus and butter in the morning and bake. Anyone in the house not already awake will be easily lured to the kitchen.