Blood Orange & Rosemary Tart

We did have a party marked for this weekend just gone - and I'm not talking about one of the many kid's parties that seem to be shaping our weekends at the moment - no, this was a birthday party of a friend of ours. It was however cancelled, as unbeknown to her when she sent out her save-the-date, her husband had plans to whisk her away for the weekend - lucky her - we can party anytime.

However, we and our other friends thought it was still worth getting together for a late afternoon tea and a few bottles of wine, so we did - and a lovely time it was too. I made and took along this Blood Orange & Rosemary Tart.

I simply adore blood oranges, and what with their ever-so-short season, I intend to make the most of them. I was looking for a new recipe to try that would really let these ruby oranges steal the show and came to this recipe is from Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose. It's a well-thumbed, flour smeared, recipe book on my kitchen shelf that's full of recipes for healthier, more natural bakes that favour ancient flours like rye, buckwheat and spelt along with fruits, nuts and honey, rather than refined sugars.

I'm not all that confident when it comes to pasty, but this rosemary-flecked shortcrust pasty was quick to make and had a lovely crumbly texture. The orange-custard filling was simple enough too, and although I was a little concerned of its slight wobble when it came out of the oven, it did firm up a little more upon cooling - so don't be tempted to over cook it, have a little faith.

It was delicious with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side, but equally good on its own. I will, without doubt make this again. Regular oranges, can of course replace blood oranges and I strongly steer you towards using organic eggs as their vibrant yellow yolks make all the difference in ensuring your filling really sings.

Blood Orange & Rosemary Tart

grated zest of 3 and juice of 5 blood oranges
2 sprigs of rosemary
120g maple syrup
4 large eggs and 6 yolks
200g unsalted butter, softened
spelt shortcrust rosemary tart case:
250g spelt white flour, sifted
pinch of salt
90g cold unsalted butter, cubed
50g icing sugar
2tbsp finely chopped rosemary
2 large free-range egg yolks

Combine flour salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add sugar, rosemary and egg yolks and pulse again until combined and comes away from the side of the bowl (I added a tiny bit of cold water to help bring it together).

Remove from bowl, shape gently into flat disk, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

Using a box grater, coarsely the pastry into a 25 cm tart tin then press it evenly into the sides and base.  Prick the base of the tart with a fork and then chill again for 10 minutes. 

Line tart with baking paper and fill with baking weights and blind bake for 12 minutes. Remove beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool - leaving in tin.

Put orange juice and rosemary sprigs in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until juice has reduced by almost half. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Add the zest, maple syrup, eggs and yolks to the pan. Whisk until the eggs are broken up and everything has become homogenised.

Place the pan over a low heat.  As the mixture starts to cook it with thicken.  Once thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add the butter and continue whisking until the mixture becomes very thick.  It is very important to continue whisking throughout the cooking process to prevent the mixture from splitting.  Remove from the heat and place the pan on a cold surface and continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

Spoon the filling into the tart case and bake in the oven until the top is brown - this should take about 10-15 minutes, but check it after 10.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool before removing from the tin.