Friday, July 24, 2009
Orange ricotta tart
One thing that I love about the winter is the abundance of citrus fruits, and in particular, oranges. There's nothing like the sharp, tangy smell of an orange as you peel it, then bite into its soft, juicy flesh. My love for oranges meant that I could not pass over a recipe for orange ricotta tart by Sophie Hansen in the August 2009 issue of BBC Australia Good Food magazine (entitled "Blood orange lady").
I didn't have blood oranges, but found that good old Australian navel oranges worked just as well. The tart comprises a flaky pastry base topped with a creamy ricotta filling, and decorated by orange slices and caramel. My caramel ended up being a little overdone, and more like toffee, but by the time I brought it to work the next day, it had largely dissolved into a sauce, which saved the day even if it was a little sticky. If you like your desserts not too sweet and decidedly grown-up in flavour, then this is the tart for you.
Although the recipe author says it is easy to make, I am not so sure that I agree with her, as I had a few glitches (including the said toffee incident). I guess it also helps if you don't try and watch TV while making it - I wasn't concentrating, so I read the recipe as including the juice of 2 oranges when only the juice of one orange is required, causing me to add the remaining 50g of ricotta that I had on hand plus an extra egg to bind it up!
If you would like to make this tart, the recipe (without my emergency adjustments!) is as follows:
1 2/3 cups plain flour, sifted
180g cold, chopped butter
60ml ice cold water
Orange and ricotta filling
1 cup ricotta (I used low fat)
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 oranges, peeled and sliced into 5mm wide slices
(Tip - I found it easier to peel the slices after cutting than to peel the orange neatly then slice it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
To make the pastry:
Put the flour, and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water and process until the mixture forms a ball. Scoop the resulting pastry out of the food processor and press it into a disk before wrapping it in cling film and refrigerating for 30 minutes.
Grease a 24cm diameter loose-bottomed pie pan.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 2mm. Position the pastry in the pie dish and press it firmly into the sides, then trim off the excess. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then return it to the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Remove the tart shell from the fridge, line it with baking paper, and fill it with pie weights or rice. Place the tart shell in the oven to bake for 15 minutes, then remove it from the oven, remove the pie weights and baking paper, and bake it for another 5 minutes or until golden. Remove the tart shell from the oven and allow it to cool.
To make the filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, the 1/4 cup of sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and juice, cardamom and ginger until smooth. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell, then bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or until the filling is just set. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Arrange the orange slices over the top of the cooled ricotta filling.
In a small saucepan, mix together the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of water, and stir over low heat until the sugar melts. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to boiling point, and allow to boil until it turns a rich brown colour. Remove the mixture from the heat and spoon it over the top of the oranges.
Remove the tart from the pan and serve immediately. (Or if you don't mind the caramel turning to a sticky, dissolved sauce, you can refrigerate it and serve the next day.)