Caramelised Orange & Almond Tart

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This tart is the sunniest, juiciest dessert imaginable, and was partly inspired by Nigella Lawson’s caramelised oranges (in ‘Forever Summer’). I was recently daydreaming about a zesty, creamy orange tart – something along the lines of a simplified tart au citron. I searched for something similar but couldn’t find quite what I had in mind. Wondering why orange wasn’t more popular, I put together a recipe of my own and paired it with a hint of almond – a lovely, warming match for tangy citrus. I remembered about those jewel-like caramelised oranges I’d enjoyed a year or so previously, and thought about how beautiful they’d look as an ornate topping. Sparkling in the summer sun, you’d be hard pressed to find a prettier pie.

I know I sound like I’m stating the obvious, but this dessert is extremely orangey. It’s about as subtle as being whacked in the face with an Orangina; so if you’re not really a fan of oranges I’d stay well clear. For everyone else, bake it, slice it, slather it with cream and slurp it up.

Serves 8. You will need a 9″ tart/pie/flan dish

For the pastry:
150g plain flour
50g ground almonds
50g butter, fridge-cold and cubed
50g Trex, fridge-cold
1 tbsp vodka or orange juice
1 egg yolk
3 level tbsp caster sugar

For the filling:
1 x standard (397g) tin of full-fat condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract/bean paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 2 oranges
165ml orange juice (2-3 large oranges, depending on size will produce this – zest two of them first!)

For the topping:
3 large oranges, peeled (plus white/pithy bits sliced off) and sliced into thin rings
150g sugar
100ml water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract/bean paste

A handful of sliced almonds, to scatter

First of all, you’ll need to make the pastry dough. The recipe above is just a sweetened version of my basic shortcrust pastry – my step-by-step guide to making and blind-baking pastry is here. You can make the pastry days in advance if you want to – just pat it into a disc, wrap it in clingfilm and keep it in the fridge until you need it. Blind bake, set aside to cool, and make the filling:

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Preheat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 2. The filling doesn’t take long at all to make, so make sure the oven has had a chance to preheat properly first! Using a balloon whisk, combine all of the filling ingredients – the condensed milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon juice, orange zest and juice – until it looks quite pale and foamy. (Don’t throw away the egg whites! Freeze them to make meringues another time – or do what I’m prone to doing lately – use them as a hair masque).

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Pour the filling into your prepared pie dish and bake in the centre of a preheated oven for about 35 minutes. It’s ready when it looks both ‘set’ and wobbly – a bit like a blancmange. It will firm up as it cools (the centre must not be runny though). The edges will show the slightest hint of swelling.

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As the tart cools, you can crack on with the topping. Peel your oranges, and very carefully slice off the visible white/pithy bits. Slice the oranges into neat rings, as thinly as you can, and set aside. Please be careful. I cannot be held responsible for missing digits.

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Place the water, lemon juice and sugar in a deep pan and gently stir together. Place on a low heat. Avoiding stirring, bring to the boil and allow it to bubble furiously for a few minutes until the edges just begin to look golden. Don’t take your eyes off it – it will burn very quickly. Remove from the heat and place the oranges inside, one by one, turning them gently so that they are coated in syrup. Let them sit for ten minutes or so, then remove them one by one from the syrup. (You can discard the remaining syrup, or use it to make kitsch cocktails. Ahem.) Place each ring onto a sheet of baking paper so that they can cool quicker. Once the tart has cooled, arrange the orange rings on top – just place one in the centre and work your way out. Chill overnight or at least for a few hours. Scatter the sliced almonds and serve with cream.
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