Spiced Orange Tart

Oranges are really cheap at my grocery store right now. Now, I do like oranges, but I have some sort of mental block against just picking them up and eating them as a snack.

I'm not sure why... maybe it's because when I was little I chewed my fingernails and so I could never really peel oranges very well and they were a lot of work to eat for little me.

Maybe it is because one time when I was around 6 I ate an orange by slowly and messily dissecting it little juice-filled packet by packet.... on top of one of my favorite books... thereby accidentally banishing that book to sticky, orange-covered oblivion. Poor book. That must have traumatized me or something.

ANYWAY, for whatever reason, oranges always sound really good at the store, and they are cheap, so I buy them... and then they sit in my fridge for several months until they are sufficiently green and fuzzy to be sent to the compost pile. But not this time! This time I decided to take control of the destiny of the oranges in my fridge and make something of them. I adapted this recipe a bit for the custard insides: http://www.crumbblog.com/2012/03/pretty-in-pink-blood-orange-tart.html, and I adapted this recipe for the spice shortbread crust stuff: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/11/the-great-unshrinkable-sweet-tart-shell/

First off, the tart shell. See, the shell has to sit in the fridge and chill for a little while before you bake it, so it is a good thing to start off with.

Cinnamon and nutmeg in liberal helpings take this tart crust from pretty darn good to a spicy, wonderful thing that makes your kitchen smell like heaven.

Flour, icing sugar, butter, spices, and an egg combine together into crumbly goodness. The trick to this tart crust is first to cut in the butter until it is very coarse, then to add the egg and stir in the egg until the crust begins to clump together like the last picture above shows.

When it begins clumping like that, dump it out of the bowl onto your countertop and gently fold it over and over until it sticks together into a rough crust.
This will take a while, and you will be tempted to mash it together and knead, but you must resist the temptation because that will take away all the lovely flakes of butter in the crust. Gently press the crust into a square, then fold it in half (sort of roughly since it is all crumbs), press it together again, fold again, etc, until it is done.

Then take this rough crust, wrap it in saran wrap, and place it in the fridge for a while so that the moisture can work all the way through it and make it easier to work with.

Roll it out on plenty of flour, and put it into a tart or pie pan, then press it with your fingers until you like the shape.

Freeze this shell now, for about 20 minutes or until it is sort of firm. This will help it keep its shape while baking.

Meanwhile, lets begin to talk about the insides of this tart. Orange juice, lemon juice, spices, and eggs combine to make a lovely custard. I didn't have a lemon, so I used a lime instead. It worked.

Juice oranges until you are tired of juicing oranges, then juice a few more...

Aren't egg shells pretty?

You are going to cook the mixture until it turns into a custard. This is not hard, you just have to heat it up slowly and stir it constantly or it will curdle. I am a very impatient, forgetful person so mine usually curdles. I then just pretend that is how it was supposed to be, and no-one is the wiser. It doesn't affect the taste, just the looks... and if whoever you are feeding it to hasn't made custard before, perhaps you too can convince them that it is supposed to be a bit lumpy.

While your custard cools, you can pull your tart shell out of the freezer, poke it all over with a fork so that it doesn't bubble, and bake it.

Once it is baked, pour your custard into it.

Now, pop it back in the oven to bake the custard. I like to sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg over the top of it before baking it, because it is pretty, hides my lumpy custard, and tastes good.

And then you eat!

Spiced Orange Tart Recipe

Crust ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbs cold butter
lots of cinnamon and nutmeg... like, probably 2 Tbs of each. At least.
1 large egg. Or two or three eggs the size of the eggs I use, which are laid by little farm chickens in my mother-in-law's barn.

Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and spices. Cut butter into cubes, then cut it into the flour mixture until it is in large crumbs. Beat the egg, then mix it in. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to clump, then turn out on counter and gently knead until it clings together. Wrap in saran wrap and place in fridge for 10 to 20 minutes, or up to a day.

When ready, roll out crust and press into pan, then freeze for about 20 minutes or until slightly firm. Poke all over with fork, cover with aluminum foil, then bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes to brown crust.

Custard ingredients:
2 tsp orange zest
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2Tbs lemon or lime juice
3/4 cup sugar
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg

Whisk all together in medium saucepan and heat slowly while stirring constantly. Heat until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon... a very runny custard.

Pour custard into crust and bake at 350 degrees F for 25- 30 minutes until custard is cooked. This means that it will be a bit bubbled at the edges but the middle will still wobble some.

Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.


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