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 Grammarist.com, 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.