Monday, June 1, 2015

French Orange Cream Tart

I'm going to start out with a rant about pies (and what is a tart but a tarted-up pie?)  I've been feeling more comfortable with the crust-baking part of pies.  Well, it's not the filling part that usually gives trouble, is it?  But the crust--so many things can go wrong with a crust:  the bits of butter can be too big or too small, there can be too much or too little liquid, the crust can tear or stick when you're rolling it out, there can be undetected holes where the filling leaks out, etc., etc.  I don't even want to think about everything that can go wrong.  In this case, what can go wrong is that the crust can burn.  Yes, that is not a chocolate crust.  It's a burned crust.  And there's not much you can do about a burned pie crust except start over.  I did not want to start over because that option would have required me to go without sleep, which seemed like a bad idea, especially since I'd been up late the night before, drinking champagne all night.  (Thanks, Jim, Liz, and Sarah for a great birthday party!).  So I decided that maybe burned crust would turn out to have a lovely, nutty flavor.  I hope you never need this information,, but store it away:  burned pie crust tastes burned.*  It does not have a lovely, nutty flavor.  It tastes like charcoal.  Charcoal is not a complementary flavor to orange.

It started out well enough.  The oranges and lemon looked fresh and pretty.  I don't know if this is prime citrus season, but it doesn't matter that much because I'll never get locally grown oranges in Minnesota.

And even the crust seemed to be going well enough.  The plastic wrap definitely aids in the rolling-out process.  I didn't bother with my trusty Pastry Wands, figuring I could just make a slightly larger than 12-inch circle.  Unfortunately, apparently I ignored the part of the instructions that said I'd have enough dough left to make six hamantaschen.  I suppose I could have made six ant-size hamantaschen.  Instead, I had very thick dough, which wouldn't have been so bad except that (I know I'm repeating myself here) it was burned.

I was still cheerful while I was mixing the fruit zest and the sugar.

And even when I was juicing the oranges by hand.  I thought about cheating and just pouring the juice out of the bottle, but I'd already zested the oranges and didn't especially want to have naked oranges in the fruit drawer.

After the first 20 minutes of baking, the crust was already taking on color, so I made a mental note to check it carefully when I put it back in the oven.  I guess I lost the mental note.

In the meantime, I started cracking eggs.  It took seven yolks to get to 111 grams.  Jim asked me if I was going to use another egg to get to 112.  I told him that even Woody would say 111 grams was close enough.

I note only forgot my mental note, I also forgot to set the timer.  So it was the "what's that smell?" question that alerted me to my mishap.

I just poured the filling into the burned crust, hoping that if I ignored it, it would somehow go away.  Like most wishful thinking, that wasn't very effective.

Yes, I burned the top too, which you might think would lead to a pleasing symmetry.  But burned sugar tastes better than burned crust.  (You've never seen Bruléed Pie Crust on a dessert menu, have you?)  Jim tasted it, and said he really liked it.  Good old Jim.  I said, "it's burned!"  He said, "I like things that are burned."  Thinking about it now, I wish I'd just given up on the pie crust and poured the orange cream filling into individual ramekins and flamed them.  That would have been a lovely dessert.  I'll be more careful the next time I make a pie (or a tart).  Then probably one of the other hundred or so things that can wrong with pie crust will go wrong.  I can't wait.

*As I was writing this, I thought, is it more proper to say "burned" or "burnt.?  I turned to, which told me, "burned and burnt both work as the past tense and past participle of burn.  Both are used throughout the English-speaking world, but usage conventions vary.  American and Canadian writers use burned more often, and they use burnt mainly in adjectival phrases such as burnt out and burnt orange.  Outside North America, the two forms are used interchangeably, and neither is significantly more common than the other."

Just in case you were wondering.


  1. Ahhh...Marie and it was such a great looking crust going into the oven. This definitely would be good crust-less in ramekins and then bruleed. "Tarted-up pie"~love it!

  2. I'm seconding Vicki, that was such a great looking crust going into the oven. :) We have all experienced at one time or another the "what's that smell?" moment. Such a funny post, lovely you still have your sense of humour and Jim because the "I like things that are burned." is the sweetest thing. --- Jeniffer

  3. You could have salvaged a bit of the burnt crust by scraping off the top burnt you would with a burnt toast and it would taste same without the burn-taste. I also didn't have much left over for the crust and I too overbaked my crust a bit compared to the rest with a paler looking crust. :) But good thing is both of our over-baked crust has that crispness that last for days and no soggy botttoms..

  4. Hi, there, burned crust! Got one (actually 6 tartlet ones) myself. I threw out 2 and used the rest, because like you starting over wasn't happening. Great filling, no?

  5. "I like burned things."

    If you were ever questioning why you married him?!

    So annoying because your pastry looked perfect! Although thanks for soldiering on in the pursuit of truth. I now know that burned or brung pastry is not worth keeping.

  6. You were able to bake pie after a big night? Burnt or not, hats off to you. Tart looks great anyhow! Thanks for the grammar tips, always very useful!

  7. Pastry Anxiety Disorder. Has anyone made a pill for that? Losing mental notes? Very funny. And by the way, you are so not alone with disaster central. My filling spilled all over my oven door as I was setting it on the tippy rack that was put in upside down.

  8. I forgot to add that bamboo charcoal powder is used for baking too..say it is good for tummy and health etc. *shrugs*. I have a bottle at home but I have yet to use...though I think it is good as a black cake for halloween. So charcoal isn't a bad thing. I recently saw the Japanese supermarket selling 2 tiny sticks of Charcoal for $8.. all the way from Japan..supposedly good for health..and the photo showed they put the piece of charcoal and cook with rice...and I was thinking to myself if it makes the rice taste better or what's the purpose?

  9. yep i am very familiar with the burnt crust, nothing that i want to ever taste again...:-)

  10. just pulled my tart from the oven and it's pretty brown on top.... guess I won't have to brulee it. Smells fabulous, regardless. Hope to have my post up tonight.