A burnt orange and lemon tart and glass of dessert wine are the perfect way to make the most of Seville oranges and bring cheer to dark wintry days. By all means use a commercial sweet shortcrust or even a ready-made tart shell. Their ranting acidity makes them an intense and revivifying alternative to lemons, adding an intriguing note to salad dressings, and marinades for fish, notably salmon and tuna. At the other end of the meal, they are sublime in an alternative version of lemon tart, and even better combined with Amalfi lemons, if you can get them, as in the recipe below. They also make delicious ice cream which, like the marmalade, is quite unlike anything you can buy (find Nigella Lawson's Bitter Orange Ice Cream recipe on nigella.com)
On a visit to their spritual home some years ago, I enjoyed a tree-lined stroll to the Alcazar, noting the resplendent crop, and wanting to pick up and take home all the windfalls that littered the roadside. It made me feel that they are appreciated much more here than there and I positively rejoice in the fact that unless you happen to be overwintering in Ravello, Sorrento or Positano, the answer is not always 'a lemon'!/p>
BURNT ORANGE AND LEMON TART
This perfect post-detox foil for the Christmas clementine salad featured in December's Flavour of the Month is a recipe of two halves. By all means use a commercial sweet shortcrust or even a ready-made tart shell, but for the pastry, crisp, short and as sweet as a biscuit, I'm inspired by accomplished cook and writer Frances Bissell. It's tamped directly into the tin rather than rolled out, which is a blessing as it's rich and friable, and it bakes to a crisp, shortbread consistency that won't go soggy. The filling is that of a classic tarte au citron, as presented by Marco-Pierre White. Both recipes were clipped from magazines a long time ago and several grease-infused outings have made them almost illegible.
You'll need a 23cm fluted flan tin with a removable base. This will give 10 good portions, but if you've a slightly bigger crowd to feed, use 8 eggs and scale up accordingly for a more generous fill which should still fit. A kitchen blowtorch is also required to caramelise the top of the tart.
- 75g sugar - half golden caster, half golden icing
- 150g butter
- 225g plain flour
- 6 large eggs
- zest and juice of 2 Amalfi lemons and 2 small Seville oranges
- 310g golden caster sugar
- 200ml double cream
- icing sugar to caramelise
First make the pastry.
Gently melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the sugar, stirring gently until fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour working to a stiff paste. With floured hands, gather into a sticky ball and press into a 23cm fluted tin, ensuring that the sides and base are evenly covered. Smooth out any lumps and bumps with the flat of the hand. Prick the base all over and if you can, chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.
Bake the tart shell for 12-15minutes watching like a hawk to ensure it does not burn. Leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 140ºC/Gas 3. Cook's note: If using bought pastry, paint the base with egg white before baking to form a seal.
In a liquidiser, blend the eggs, zest and juice and sugar for 2 minutes. Add the cream and blend for 30 seconds. Put the pastry case, in its tin, on a larger plate or oven tray to prevent oven spillages. Pour the filling through a fine sieve into the pastry case. Bake for around 40 minutes until the top is just set. Don't let it get too brown.
When cool, ease the tin and the base apart and carefully lift the body of the tin away, leaving the tart on the metal base. Another way to do this is to balance the tin on a can and gently push downward. At any sign of resistance, run a knife lightly around the circumference to help dislodge, rather than break the custard. It's a delicate job so proceed with caution. Set the tart, still on its metal base, on your chosen serving plate. Now invert the bottomless tin over the tart, to protect the pastry circumference from scorching once you start caramelising the top. Using a small sieve, which is easier to control, dust the exposed middle of the tart with icing sugar. Blowtorch gently to a burnished glow, which will harden slightly as it cools to a crisp, sweet crust.
Janet Wynne Evans
Well-botrytised Sauternes and Barsac, with their trademark marmalade aromas, are lovely of course, but the oranges open the door to some more exotic flavours too. Try the Samos Anthemis, Domaine du Tariquet Dernières Grives, or a Tokaji perhaps.