Baking isn't always as easy as pie, which James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Nick Malgieri addresses in his latest cookbook, Nick Malgieri's Pastry. With more than a hundred recipes for baking with sweet and savory dough, there's a culinary project in here for you whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro.
Flavorful oranges are available all year long, but this tart is especially welcome in early winter, when there is little fresh fruit besides imports available. Lightly poaching the oranges controls the amount of juice that exudes from them during baking and makes for a neater and more intensely flavored tart. Almost any fruit can be adapted to this type of filling and crust.
Sweet Pastry Dough
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large naval oranges, about 1 1/2 pounds, divided use
- 1/4 cup water
- 7 tablespoons sugar, divided use
- 6 ounces canned almond paste
- 1 large egg
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup apricot preserves, heated and strained before measuring
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
For the sweet pastry dough:
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
- Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is finely mixed throughout the dry ingredients and no visible pieces remain.
- Use a fork to beat the eggs enough to break them up, and add to the bowl.
- Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much or the dough might become too soft.
- Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks and wrap each in plastic.
- Chill for a couple of hours before rolling.
- Before rolling the dough, place it on a floured surface and gently knead until smooth and malleable.
- Form into a disk again before beginning to roll. This dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- When you're ready to bake, set a rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat it to 375°F.
- Pierce the dough at 1-inch intervals all over with the tines of a fork.
- Line the dough with a disk of parchment paper or lightweight foil. If you use foil, spray the surface that will come into contact with the dough to avoid any possibility of sticking. Never use heavy-duty foil–a fold in the foil can easily cut through the dough.
- Fill the lined pastry shell with dried beans.
- Place the tart in the oven and decrease the temperature to 350°F.
- Bake until the dough is set and no longer shiny and raw looking when you lift the paper to look, about 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove the paper and continue baking until golden, about 15 minutes longer.
For the tart:
- Finely grate enough zest from the oranges to make 2 teaspoons, and set it aside for the almond filling.
- Use a sharp paring knife to remove the skin and white pith completely from the oranges, and then halve them from stem to blossom end.
- Cut the oranges into 1/4-inch-thick slices and set them aside.
- Bring the water and 4 tablespoons sugar to a boil in a nonreactive sauté pan large enough to hold the orange slices in a shallow layer; remove the pan from the heat and add the slices.
- Bring the oranges to a boil over medium heat, then let them cool in the syrup.
- When you’re ready to assemble the tart, transfer the orange slices to a pan lined with paper towels and reserve the syrup.
- Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
- Beat the almond paste and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar on low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until reduced to fine crumbs.
- Add the whole egg and beat until the mixture is completely smooth, a minute or two.
- Beat in the butter until smooth, then stop and scrape the bowl and beater.
- Beat in the reserved orange zest, egg yolk and vanilla.
- Quickly mix the flour and baking powder together and fold them into the filling using a rubber spatula.
- Spread the filling into the prepared crust and smooth the top.
- Arrange the orange slices, overlapping, in concentric rows over the almond filling.
- Gently press the oranges into the filling.
- Bake the tart until the crust is baked through and golden and the almond filling is set, 30 to 40 minutes.
- While the tart is baking, bring the syrup to a boil and allow it to reduce until slightly thickened, 4 or 5 minutes; don’t reduce it too much, or it will solidify.
- Let it cool.
- For the apricot glaze, combine 1/4 cup of the reduced syrup with the apricot preserves.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Cool the baked tart on a rack and unmold it.
- Slide the tart to a platter.
- Lightly brush the oranges with the apricot glaze, reheating it first if necessary.
- Immediately before serving; sprinkle the edge of the tart with the sliced almonds.
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