Orange Curd Tartlets
Yellow and orange are the colours of spring to me. The weather has been getting better here in London, the trees are blossoming and the daffodils are out. Naturally, I was getting spring vibes, and wanted to create a bake accordingly. So I wanted to bake a traditional lemon tart, because of its beautiful yellow colour. I made it, and the flavour was amazing, but I was not fully convinced. Traditional lemon tarts are baked, but I felt like I wanted something fresher and with a more even colour on top. I wanted something silky and smooth. So that is how the idea was born to fill the pastry case with a lemon curd instead. However, I had some oranges lying around too and I thought: why not make an orange curd!
The result was a perfectly crisp and crumbly pastry case, filled with a silky smooth orange curd with just the right balance of sweet and sour. Decoration wise, I kept it plain by just placing a half slice of orange on top. You could boil the orange slices in sugar syrup and make candied orange slices if you want to be a bit extra fancy. I served the tartlets with some meringue kisses I had made with the baked lemon tart, as a variation on the lemon meringue pie.
Give me spring vibes
Are a great eye catcher
Are delicious any time of day
Taste very refreshing
Are not as difficult as they might look!
I hope you like the photos of these tartlets by the way. I signed up for an online food photography course and I am having so much fun learning about it. Please let me know on Instagram @bakingstori if you have any feedback!
Things to know about the recipe before you start
The recipe consists of two main elements: the pastry, and the orange curd. The pastry I use for these tartlets is a French classic, the Pâte Sucrée. This beautiful sweet shortcrust pastry is very tender, crumbly, and melts in the mouth. You should handle it gently to prevent too much gluten building up. If you knead this pastry or handle it too roughly, it will be very hard and dry after you bake it rather than crumbly and short. You also want to make sure you keep the pastry as cold as possible, so the butter stays firm until the moment you bake it. You will see specks of butter in the pastry dough if everything goes well. I add some ground almonds to my pastry because I love the texture it gives.
As for the filling, if you have made a curd before, this is just the same. But if you haven't made a curd before, let me walk you through the process. It is basically the same process as making a custard or Crème Patissière. You gently heat up the liquids over the stove, until it simmers, then you turn off the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. You whisk the eggs together with the sugar in a large bowl, add the cornflour and whisk so everything is incorporated and smooth. It helps if you mix the cornflour with a tiny bit of the liquid from the pan, just so it is dissolved and won't clump in your egg mixture. Then, whilst you whisk vigoriously, very slowly pour in the warm liquid. Continuously whisk and pour slowly. You can also do this in a standing mixer if you have one. You have to be careful not to go too fast, because then the eggs will scramble from the heat. You want to temper the eggs slowly and carefully whilst whisking. When you've added all the liquid, transfer it back into the pan. If a lot of foam has formed on top from all the whisking, strain this off so you can see the liquid. Heat it gently over a low flame, and keep whisking until the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency. I would say you are looking for about the consistency of full-fat sour cream.
Orange Curd Tartlets
You will need:
4 tartlet tins (9.5 cm diameter) or one larger tart tin (20-24 cm diameter)
a food thermometer (highly recommended but not 100% necessary)
a rolling pin
a sauce pan
baking beans (or rice or dried beans also work)
For the pastry (pâte sucrée)
75 grams butter, fridge cold, in small cubes
10 grams margarine (>70% fat), or just use another 10 grams of butter
135 grams flour
40 grams ground almonds
30 grams caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks, fridge cold
1 tbsp ice cold water
Optional: egg, for egg wash
For the filling (orange curd)
2/3 oranges + 2/3 lemons, zested* and juiced to make 200 ml juice*
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
80 grams caster sugar
17 grams cornflour
75 grams room temperature butter
* You want 1 tsp of orange zest and 1 tsp of lemon zest in total. Discard the rest or keep for other recipes.
* How many oranges/lemons you need will depend on how big they are and how much juice they give. I used 2 oranges and 2 lemons. You will need 200 ml of juice in total. You can choose to use only orange juice and no lemon juice, but I like the added acidity and freshness from the lemon juice. If you only use orange juice, then I suggest you reduce the sugar to 40 grams. You can also use only lemon juice and in that case this recipe will give you a delicious lemon curd. I suggest using 120 grams of sugar in that case.
For the pastry
Start by making the pastry. Preferably you would do this the day before so it can sit in the fridge overnight. This stops the pastry shrinking when you bake it.
Take the very cold butter from the fridge and cut it into small cubes (0.5 x 0.5 cm). Do the same with the margarine if using. Place back in the fridge whilst you get the other ingredients ready.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt.
Add the butter to the flour mixture and rub it in using your finger tips. If your hands are very warm, run them under a cold tap before touching the butter so you don't melt the butter. Keep rubbing until there are no loose chunks of butter left and the mixture looks a bit like crumble or small peas.
Add the cold egg yolks and use a blunt bread knife to mix it in evenly. Add one table spoon of ice cold water. Carefully bring the mixture together with your hands, but don't knead too hard. If the mixture just about holds, it's perfect. If it is not holding and feels too dry, add one more tablespoon of water.
Place the pastry in plastic wrap and in the fridge for 1 hour.
Take the pastry from the fridge. Lightly flour your work surface, and roll out the pastry to 3 - 5 mm thickness (according to your preference). Cut out 4 circles large enough for your tart tins and place the pastry in your tins. Press the pastry into the edges so you get that beautiful shape on your pastry. If your rolled out pastry is not big enough to do all tarts at the same time, do as many as you can, then re-roll the leftover pastry for the last tart(s).
Remove the overhanging pastry by taking a rolling pin, and rolling it over the top of the tart tins. This will remove all the excess pastry perfectly. Or, if you prefer, leave the pastry overhanging, and cut off the excess pastry after baking.
Prick the pastry all over with a fork so steam can escape when baking.
Cover the tarts and place them in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius (conventional) or 180° Celsius (fan) with a rack in the middle.
Place the tarts on a baking sheet. Prepare them for blind baking. Line the cases with aluminium foil or with baking paper. Fill them up with baking beans, or with rice/dry beans. This will support the sides of the pastry and stop it from puffing up.
Bake the tarts on the baking trays for 15 minutes.
Remove the beans and foil. Lightly brush the pastry cases with egg wash if you want. This will create a seal on the pastry and it will prevent your pastry going soggy when you put filling on it later.
Bake for another 5-10 minutes until beautifully golden. You need to watch the tarts after 5 mins because they turn very quickly.
Let the tarts completely cool down before removing them from the tins. Be very gentle - the pastry is crumbly and fragile.
For the orange curd
Take 75 grams of butter from the fridge and cut it into 1 x 1 cm cubes. Set aside so it can come to room temperature.
Zest the oranges and lemons using the finest grater you have, until you have 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside to use later in step 9.
Juice the oranges and lemons over a sieve, so no pulp or pips end up in the juice. You need 200 ml of juice total. Place this in a sauce pan.
Heat the juice over a low heat until simmering, then turn off the heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the 2 eggs and the egg yolk.
In a small bowl, add a tiny splash of the orange/lemon juice to the cornflour and mix until dissolved.
Add the cornflour to the sugar/egg mixture.
Temper the egg mixture with the warm juice. Very slowly pour the juice into the eggs, whilst continuously whisking. Keep going until you used all the juice. Do not go too fast or the eggs will scramble.
Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan over a low heat. Whisking all the time, wait for the mixture to thicken. Do not let the mixture boil. It should thicken in a few minutes time. When it has the consistency of full-fat sour cream, take it off the heat and transfer to the bowl with the orange and lemon zest. Mix to incorporate the zest.
Let the mixture cool down until it reaches 40° Celsius, then add the butter and whisk until incorporated. If the mixture is hotter, the butter might melt and it will split the curd. If the mixture is too cold, it will be difficult to get the butter to incorporate properly. If you have a thermometer, use it to get the mixture at exactly 40° before adding the butter. Otherwise, it should feel warm to the touch, a bit like the perfect bath water temperature.
Scoop the curd into the tart tins. You can smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or with an off-set spatula if you want.
Place the tarts in the fridge for at least 1 hour for the curd to set.
Decorate however you please and enjoy!
"The eggs in my curd scrambled when I added the warm juice."
I don't think there is anything you can do to un-cook the eggs. I would start over and make sure my juice mixture is a bit cooler the next time, and also to pour it into the eggs more slowly. Do not stop whisking.
"My curd has separated."
If your curd separates when you put the butter in, then maybe it was not the right temperature when you added the butter. Make sure the mixture is 40°C and the butter is room temperature. You can try gently re-heating the curd over a bain marie whilst whisking. It might come back together.
I really hope you give this recipe a try! It is absolutely delicious. You can also use this curd for a lot of other things if you want and store it in a jar in the fridge.
Let me know on Instagram @bakingstori when you try this recipe!