The fact that citrus is considered a winter fruit always makes me want to laugh, or at least smile a little. I love that in the months of gloomy darkness the shining flavors of oranges, grapefruits and clementines are at their best. This weekend as I was making this tart, methodically cutting off the rinds and segmenting each blood orange with patience and precision, I was lucky enough to have rays of sunshine pouring into my living room. It was a spectacular break, between the beautiful colors of the oranges, their powerfully enticing aroma and the bright sun, I could not have been happier. By the time I made it to the last orange my hands were stained a pinky-red hue and a gorgeous mound of blood orange segments stood beside me. But the beauty of the segments was nothing compared the rinds, piths and membranes from the oranges, which without a doubt composed the most beautiful and aromatic pile of 'garbage' I have ever come across.
Usually, oranges turn bitter and unpleasant the moment they are heated and that was reason enough to hold off on making this tart, despite the enticing photos and very positive reviews. But the other day I glanced back at this recipe and seeing the pictures of such a bright and happy looking winter dessert, I finally caved.
Flaky Blood Orange Tart
(from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from Food + Wine)
1 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, the stick cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
3 tbsp. ice water
8 to 10 blood oranges (about 5 ounces each) [I only needed 7]
1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
1) In a food processor, pulse the 1 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the baking powder and salt. Add the stick of cold butter and pulse several times, just until it is the size of peas. Sprinkle the dough with the ice water and pulse just until moistened crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto a work surface, knead once or twice and pat the pastry into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
2) On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to an 11-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper–lined flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chilled.
3) Meanwhile, peel the blood oranges, removing all of the bitter white pith. Thinly slice 2 of the oranges crosswise; remove the pits. Transfer the orange slices to a plate. Working over a sieve set over a bowl, cut in between the membranes of the remaining oranges, releasing the sections into the sieve. Remove the pits and gently shake out as much juice as possible without mashing the sections; you will need 1 cup of sections. Reserve the orange juice for another use.
4) Arrange the orange sections on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the oranges. Using a paring knife, thinly slice the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the oranges. Fold up the pastry over the oranges, leaving most of the oranges uncovered. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Arrange the orange slices on top, leaving a 1-inch border of pastry all around. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar on top. Freeze the tart until solid, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
5) Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the center. Place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake the tart directly from the freezer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is deeply browned. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let the tart cool for 30 minutes. Carefully slide the parchment paper onto the rack and let the tart cool completely.