Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Holding on to Summer with Sunshine Tarts

I've been thinking about these tarts all day. Work is never harder than when you are hungry and distracted by imaginary baked goods. At the end of the day I was finishing up a meeting with my boss, and after a bit of idle chatter, I'd had it. I gathered my laptop and made the cleanest exit possible, but must have seemed a wee bit frantic when I slurred "gottamaketartsseeyatomorrow" on the way out the door.

Ok, so I was dreaming about food in general - which, granted, isn't unusual for me - but I think it's gotten really bad lately with the threat of school starting again. I know I'll still make time to blog, and it's not as if this summer has been full of free time, but I have a feeling that my meals will steadily become a bit more utilitarian and my fantasy cooking sprees a bit less frequent. All day, my stomach grumbled and my mind wandered, and I won't deny indulging in a few recipe searches and food porn gazing, but I managed to be relatively productive. I'm telling you, it was an uphill battle.

I bought a few Valencia oranges at Limbo this morning, and was halfway through my second one when I realized I hadn't blogged a recipe from my kitchen in a while. With the cool air whipping through the window, and the gray clouds making more and more cameo appearances in the Portland sky, I've been trying to grab on to any bit of summer before its gone. What better way to celebrate the sunny season than with a Sunshine tart?

I really love citrus. Growing up in Southern California, the stuff was everywhere, but I never ventured far beyond the peel-and-eat method, save for a few glasses of fresh orange juice. I wanted to do something special with these big Valencias, which brought me back to family trips to orange groves in my sister's red convertible - in December.

I started off with a simple galette dough, a bit of flour, salt, butter, and an ice cold mix of water and... gin! Hendrick's Gin, to be exact. One of my professors told me the secret to great pastry dough is ice-cold alcohol. Gluten doesn't form in alcohol, and the taste doesn't come through, so it makes for a moist, flaky crust. He (as well as other recipes I'm familiar with) recommends vodka, but Casey bought a bottle of Hendricks a few months ago and it was sitting in the freezer today, icy-cold and asking to become pastry. The result was a really buttery crust that peaked out in sun-like rays when I snipped it before baking.

I sliced the oranges into perfect little wedges, by first cutting off the top and bottom ends of the orange, paring the peel away, and cutting out the slices between the white membrane. I finished it off with a sprinkle of sugar, and into the oven they went (375 for about 30 minutes - and the broiler for another two).

A perfect, citrusy end to a long day - definitely a dessert worth daydreaming about.


  1. I know how that feels!! Sometimes I just can't help thinking about things I want to make and eat that it could take up most of my thoughts for the whole day!! Beautiful tart, and I never kknoew about using ice cold alcohol!! What a great idea for a super crumbly pastry base!! I should definitely try that!

  2. That is an absolutely beautiful tart! Great job!!

  3. I am intrigue by your crust making. I never thought of using vodka or gin. When you wrote that you freeze the gin, did you mean literally freeze them for the whole day? Please explain if you have the time, because I really would love to try it. I am convince that this orange tarte taste very delice!

  4. I love the name: sunshine tarts. The oranges look quite magnificent, oh how I'm going to miss summer!

  5. My thoughts are usually on what I want to cook next...Like, right now, it's 10:45 p.m. and all I want to do is make this sunshine tart. Absolutely beautiful!