Flaky Blood Orange Tartlets

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A smaller, easier, quicker version of that famed orange tart. A little flaky, buttery pastry, 2 oranges, 2 spoonfuls of sugar, and you’ll have a stunning dessert.

Let me tediously list some of the boring reasons I made them this way:

  • My freezer is a shoebox which can’t always accommodate a whole tart, like the original recipe requires;
  • I’m a brat who’s too impatient for the 4 hour freezing time anyway;
  • I’m also a lonely arsehole who usually feeds no more than 2 people a day and this tart is really best eaten up quickly;
  • They’re good. End of.

I wouldn’t have bothered scaling this down if it involved individual tartlet tins or something. I am pretty lazy. Here, the simplicity of it, the freshness of the orange, the bold colours, the flaky sugar-dusted pastry–it’s all there on one baking tray.

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My excellent friend Natty gifted me with lovely cake forks for Christmas. I feel like I should be wearing a twinset and pearls to match.

 

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The brief blast of heat intensifies the blood oranges; since the whole thing’s just barely sweetened, it’s particularly wonderful with something to complement or temper it. Salted caramel sauce (or similar) is the original and, I think, best; I have cheated slightly by letting down ready-made dulce de leche with some warm milk and a pinch of sea salt. Have it how you like, of course.

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Choose Moro oranges for the best colour, but any sort of orange you like would do. Where I live (NW London) blood oranges are available from larger supermarkets, grocers, fruit stalls, and farmers markets at varying points in winter, sometimes from the start of January, more usually later. It’s a pain in the arse to scout around, though, so don’t feel that you have to use blood oranges.

Really, this simple tart is an easy, delicious way to present most fruit, so make yourself happy and pick anything which isn’t too watery (or is pre-cooked/drained to compensate for this) and suits a quick bake in the oven.  Dress it up with a hint of spice, if you wish, and shape the pastry how you like. Make this yours.

Now, I made these earlier in the day to photograph them before the light went completely (the days lengthen, minute by minute, but it’s never quite enough). I could have eaten one. I could have. I fully believe in taking joy in cooking for one and eating alone, your single self is worth joy, care, and nourishment.

Still, if I can, I like to eat this with people, so I ate it up with in the evening when my partner was home.

I’ve made this tart for my Pearents, for Mr. Pear, and I hope you (whether one or two) will like this, too.

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BLOOD ORANGE TARTLETS
Adapted from Zoe Nathan via Smitten Kitchen.
This recipe originally appeared on MouthLondon and has been substantially re-written by me for this blog.

Makes 2 individual tarts, generously portioned. Best eaten on the day of making.

I love this best with warm salted caramel sauce. If the sauce has been chilled, it’s very quick to reheat: I put spoonfuls of it in a small microwaveable cup or bowl and heat it (never walking away from it) on low-medium/defrost, stirring every 5 – 10 seconds until pourable and warm. Far better to have a bit too much than too little, by the bye…

ingredients
About 200g/7 oz flaky pastry dough (use your own or see recipe below. Either way, keep chilled until you need it.)
A little flour for dusting
2 blood oranges, preferably Moro, but any kind you like will do
Finely grated zest from 1 blood orange
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
A little milk or beaten egg to glaze the pastry, whatever you like

to serve
Caramel sauce (here’s my recipe), pouring cream, ice cream, whatever you want

instructions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/180 fan.

Ensure you’ve zested 1 orange before proceeding. Peel the oranges; it helps to score the tough skin first. Remove as much white pith as possible. Take 1 orange and separate into individual segments; ideally, you’ll supreme it, but it’s not essential. Either way, halve each segment crosswise, removing any seeds you encounter. For the second orange, thinly slice the whole fruit crosswise; try to keep it an even number. You should get 6 – 8 coins from a medium orange, plus a few straggly bits, which is all to the good.

Using your fingers, thoroughly rub together the orange zest and sugar in a small bowl until the mixture is fragrant and damp.

To make the tart base, get out your cold pastry dough and cut it in half. Roll each portion out on a floured surface until you have a small disc about 15 cm – 17 cm/6 – 7 inches wide and slightly thinner than a £1 coin. Transfer rolled dough to a large rimmed baking tray lined with baking paper or foil.

Now to assemble the tarts. The cut orange segments will be enclosed in pastry and the round slices will go on top. So, divide the cut segments between each dough circle, fanning them out, leaving a bare pastry border of at least 4 cm/1.5 inches (it’s actually better to space them out a bit, not snug as in the photo, but do as you feel like). Sprinkle half of the orange zest-sugar mixture over the orange filling, dividing evenly between each tart.

Partially fold the pastry border over the oranges, leaving the centre mostly open and pleating dough slightly to form a pretty crust. Lightly brush the crusts with glaze. Cover the tart with the remaining orange slices, arranging in a pretty overlap with a narrow border of pastry all round. Sprinkle both tarts with remaining orange zest-sugar mixture, ensuring some gets onto the pastry itself.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown. Allow tart to cool before serving, 5 – 10 minutes; you want it just warm.

***

QUICK SWEET FLAKY PASTRY
Adapted from Delia Smith. Originally appeared on MouthLondon.
Yields around 200g pastry, perfect for the tarts above (and is easily doubled).
Keep chilled for a day or two, or frozen for 1 month in individual wrapped portions.

You don’t necessarily need to freeze everything, but the butter does need to be very cold and solid. If you’re working in a very warm kitchen, though, you might find it useful to chill everything, including your bowl.

ingredients
60g/2 oz/4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 1 piece
100g/3.5oz plain flour, sifted
1.5 tsp granulated sugar
Generous pinch of salt
2 – 3 tablespoons chilled water, or more if needed

instructions

Wrap the butter in a layer of foil. Put flour, sugar, and salt in a freezer bag. Freeze both of them for at least 25 minutes, up to 40. Chill the water in the fridge, too.

You’ll need to work quickly from this stage onwards until the end. Partially unwrap butter and coarsely grate all of it into a bowl, holding the butter through the foil so you don’t melt it. Use a round-bladed knife to scrape butter flakes from the inside of the grater.

Take the flour mixture out of the freezer and add it to the grated butter. Toss until butter pieces are well dusted. Add the chilled water 1 tablespoon at a time to the mixture, concentrating on dry areas and mixing with a round-bladed knife until mostly clumpy, then bring everything together with your hands. It’s crucial not to add too much water; you should have a crumbly dough which just holds together.

Wrap the dough (I use the floury freezer bag) and allow it rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Use immediately or store as directed.

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