Orange and Almond Tart

Flavorful oranges are available all year long, but this tart is especially welcome in early winter, when there is little fresh fruit besides imports available. Lightly poaching the oranges controls the amount of juice that exudes from them during baking and makes for a neater and more intensely flavored tart. Almost any fruit can be adapted to this type of filling and crust. The upper tart in the photo is made with red-fleshed Cara Cara oranges. Blood oranges would be a flavorful and visually striking choice too. A couple of small and very sweet white or pink grapefruit would make a lovely tart, but don’t use the zest, which is too bitter.

Makes 1 10-inch tart, 8 to 10 servings


One 10-inch tart crust made from Sweet Pastry Dough (see below)

4 large navel oranges, about 1 1/2 pounds, divided use

1/4 cup water

7 tablespoons sugar, divided use

6 ounces canned almond paste

1 large egg

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

FINISHING

3/4 cup apricot preserves, heated and strained before measuring

1/4 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds for finishing

  1. Finely grate enough zest from the oranges to make 2 teaspoons, and set it aside for the almond filling. Use a sharp paring knife to remove the skin and white pith completely from the oranges, and then halve them from stem to blossom end. Cut the oranges into 1/4-inch-thick slices and set them aside.
  2. Bring the water and 4 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil in a wide nonreactive sauté pan large enough to hold the slices in a shallow layer; remove the pan from the heat and add the slices.
  3. Bring the oranges to a boil over medium heat, then let them cool in the syrup. When you’re ready to assemble the tart, transfer the orange slices to a pan lined with paper towels and reserve the syrup.
  4. Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  5. Beat the almond paste and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar on low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until reduced to fine crumbs. Add the whole egg and beat until the mixture is completely smooth, a minute or two. Beat in the butter until smooth, then stop and scrape the bowl and beater. Beat in the reserved orange zest, egg yolk, and vanilla. Quickly mix the flour and baking powder together and fold them into the filling using a rubber spatula.
  6. Spread the filling into the prepared crust and smooth the top. Arrange the orange slices, edges overlapping, in concentric rows over the almond filling. Gently press the oranges into the filling.
  7. Bake the tart until the crust is cooked through and golden and the almond filling is set, 30 to 40 minutes.
  8. While the tart is baking, bring the syrup to a boil and allow it to reduce until slightly thickened, 4 or 5 minutes; don’t reduce it too much, or it will solidify. Let it cool.
  9. For the apricot glaze, combine 1/4 cup of the reduced syrup with the apricot preserves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  10. Cool the baked tart on a rack and unmold it. Slide the tart to a platter. Lightly brush the oranges with the apricot glaze, reheating it first if necessary, immediately before serving; sprinkle the edge of the tart with the sliced almonds.

 

SWEET PASTRY DOUGH

Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or 1 double-crusted pie

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

8 tablespoons/1 stickunsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces

2 large eggs

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
  2. Add the butter cubes and pulse again until the butter is finely mixed throughout the dry ingredients and no visible pieces of butter remain.
  3. Use a fork to beat the eggs enough to break them up, and add them to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much or the dough might become too soft.
  4. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead it together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.
  6. Before rolling the dough, place it on a floured surface and gently knead until smooth and malleable. Form into a disk again before beginning to roll.