Wow, a lot of citrus around here lately, eh? I kind of forgot how much I love citrus. It was all I wanted as a kid, then I got all caught up in chocolate and didn't eat many citrus desserts for many years. I'm so glad to be re-discovering it. How great is it that the brightest, sunniest fruits are in season when it is cold and grey! I mean, look at this tart; can you imagine a happier looking dessert on a dreary January day? I can't!
The recipe for this tart comes from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook. I received this book for Christmas, and until yesterday hadn't had a chance to look at it very carefully. It has a lot in it that I don't eat - lots of meat, people, lots of meat - but it is a beautiful book, and I love the way it is structured. Each chapter has a bio on one of the people who grow (or otherwise cultivate) the produce, honey, etc. that the bakery uses.
As soon as I saw this tart, however, I had the feeling that the book was worth having for that recipe alone. I was right.
The tart is composed of a sturdy, citrus-scented crust spread with a layer of marmalade, topped with an almond cream which is studded with bits of toasted almonds, and to finish it off, thin slices of fresh citrus are placed on top.
While there are several components, they are all rather simple to execute. The only thing that gave me trouble was the dough for the crust. It was very crumbly, even with several extra tablespoons of orange juice, and was a real pain to roll out. I had to patch it more than I have ever had to patch any other dough I've ever worked with. After it came out of the oven, however, I loved the taste and texture of the crust, so I don't think I'd substitute a different dough.
This tart has a lovely balance of flavors and textures: the firm, almost crunchy crust plays beautifully off of the creamy filling and soft fruit; the sweetness of the almond cream is tempered by the fresh citrus. It is a dessert that is equally appropriate for a fancy holiday dinner or an informal breakfast.
adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook
For the Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons - 4 tablespoons orange juice
For the Almond Cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
3/4 cup almonds, toasted until brown on the inside, then finely chopped
For Assembling the Tart
1 cup high-quality citrus marmalade at room temperature
2 medium-sized citrus fruits (or more if you want more variety)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
To make tart dough:
Combine butter with flour, sugar, orange zest and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, place in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, covering your hands so they don't stick to the metal bowl, attach to mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix until very crumbly. Add orange juice a little at a time until the dough comes together. Turn out onto floured board and knead until dough is smooth, about 2 minutes. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
While dough is chilling, make almond cream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, powdered sugar, almond extract, zest and salt until light and fluffy. Add beaten egg slowly, and mix until incorporated. Add flour and mix until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the toasted, chopped almonds.
Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Remove tart dough from fridge and place on a well-floured board. Roll out to 1/4" thick. Using a sharp knife, cut a rectangle 12" x 16". Carefully transfer rectangle to prepared cookie sheet. Spread marmalade over dough, leaving a 1" border all the way around. Spread almond cream as evenly as you can over the marmalade. Fold edges of dough in to create a crust. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.
Prepare the citrus for topping:
Cut both ends off of each piece of citrus, creating a flat surface. Place fruit on one of the flat ends, and following the curve of the fruit, cut off all of the rind and pith. Then slice into rounds, 1/4" thick each. Remove seeds as necessary. Remove tart from refrigerator and lay citrus slices evenly over the surface. Place them close together, but not overlapping. Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten egg, and dust the whole thing with sugar, going heavier on the dough than the fruit. Place a dot of butter on each slice of citrus to prevent burning. Bake tart for 40-45 minutes, or until both the almond cream and crust are a deep golden brown. Cool on rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.