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Candied Blood Orange & Lemon Curd Tart

For when life hands you lemons

It goes without saying, I love lemons.

Lemons are an unambiguous lot.

Sweet. Tart. In your face. You know, kind of like the Bake Slave on a sugar bender.

When my childhood buddy gave me a glorious cookbook Guillaume: Food For Friends earlier this year, we poured over it and were floored by the redoubtable Guillaume Brahimi’s famous Lemon Tarts. And so, the seed of a future make/bake was planted that day.

Chef Brahimi’s recipe calls for a three parter: a sweet pastry base, lemon curd and candied lemon.

Well, I obviously have adherence issues, don’t I?

I had blood oranges with Greek style yoghurt earlier this week, and the peels were too pretty for the bin. Waste not, want not.

And so began a slight deviation; I decided to make them into candied peels, feeling that the sharper citrus notes and the vibrant red-orange will contrast beautifully with the lemon yellow of the curd.

Candied Orange Peels

You will need:

One orange (or lemon, if you please)
160 g caster sugar
80 cc potable water

Make it:

I had one large blood orange, peeled. Using a sharp paring knife (or a small short bladed one, because you’ll need to get up close and personal), carefully remove all of the white bits on the rind (which lends an undesirable bitterness).

So you’ve gotten rid of the physical root cause of a citrus’ bitterness. To really banish the bitter, treat it to a Russian banya.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and then blanch the orange peels for around 1 minute. Then refresh it in a bowl of iced water. Repeat 2 – 3 more times, each time with fresh blanching water. Drain, then pat the peels with a paper towel. Now get down to the business of julienning away (i.e. cutting into long fine strips).

Bring the sugar and the 80 cc of water to a boil in small saucepan, then reduce the heat and simmer till the sugar dissolves. Bung in the thinly sliced peels and let it simmer for around 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and allow to cool in the pan. It will be a sticky coat, and if you can prevent yourself from eating the lot, use a fork to lift out the candied peels and transfer to an airtight container. The syrup? I have it bottled (and date of manufacture labelled), chilling in the fridge, for quick drizzles later on warm pancakes, waffles, French toast. For an extra touch, you could add a stick of cinnamon into the boiling syrup. (This goes well with Basboosa, which I will post about at a later date).

Fatigued yet?

Next, make the lemon curd. Or actually, first make the curd, then fuss around to make the candied peels. The curd needs some time to come to terms with its eggy marriage, and so, although the recipe calls for a 2 hour time-out once it is made, I left mine in the fridge overnight-and-a-half.

Lemon Curd (adapted from Chef’s Brahimi’s recipe)

You will need:

1/2 teaspoon of powdered gelatine (I used Davis)
100 cc pouring cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
80 g caster sugar
100 cc lemon juice (extracted from 2 pre-rolled lemons & strained)
30 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

(Chef’s recipe also called for the finely grated zest of 1 lemon, but I omitted this, in anticipation of the powerful blood orange peels)

Make it:

  1. First soften the gelatine in 2 teaspoons of (room temp) water in a small heatproof cup/bowl. Set the cup over a simmering bain-marie, to further dissolve it.
  2. Bring the cream to a boil in a thick-bottomed saucepan, and remove it from the heat.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, yolk, and sugar until well combined. Then add in the lemon juice (and zest, if you please) and whisk.
  4. Although his recipe called for you to pour in the cream, bear in mind that the egg mixture is at room temperature and the cream has just come off the heat, so what I did was to temper the egg mixture first with a small ladle of the hot cream, whisk, then add the cream in small increments. This way, you wouldn’t shock the egg proteins with the heat of the total volume of cream, and you would have avoided making the mixture streaky. Success!
  5. Return all contents to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat (whisking gently all the time)  for 3 – 4 minutes, or until thickened. It should coat the back of your spoon like pancake batter. (If you were distracted and the mixture came to a boil, it will curdle; so just go back into a corner, sit on your haunches and rock your self to a quiet sob).
  6. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the softened butter and then the gelatine. Cool to room temperature before you cover the surface with clingwrap, then place it in the fridge. Later, after the minimum setting time of 2 hours, loosen up the curd by stirring with a spoon, and you can then spoon them in/pipe them in to your tart shell(s).

Initially, the faint odour of the gelatine was off-putting, and I wrestled with the option of adding vanilla paste to the curd (sacrilege!). But thankfully, less than 36 hours later, the gelatine odour was very much subdued, and I went to town with all of the candied peels.

The Tart Shell

I would have made short crust pastry for the shell, but since fatigue (and impatience) got to me, I went out to get one 250 g packet of McVitie’s Digestive biccies. Gave it a tremendous pounding and added in 170 g melted unsalted butter – then shoved it deftly coaxed it into my 9-inch round tart mould, and left it in the fridge overnight to set hard.


{Big shout out to Melissa Peh for the glorious cookbook present, to Sophia Au-Yeong for the blood oranges, and to Ben Yusop for the gelatine. OZ ROCKS!}

2 comments on “Candied Blood Orange & Lemon Curd Tart

  1. Gracie
    September 7, 2012

    Stunning pics.

Let it brie and forever hold your peas....or lettuce know how you feel:

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This entry was posted on September 6, 2012 by in No-bake, Tarts & Pies and tagged , , , .
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