Orange Ricotta and Berry Tart

by Anna Buckley

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So it was the 23rd of December, nearly Christmas, when I first started this post. My parents had flown in from interstate and the last of the frenzied shopping trips were over.

The following day, Christmas Eve, I was planning to get all the food preparation done. We were going to my cousins for Christmas lunch and, as there would be 21 of us, agreed to share in the vast amount of cooking. I was to bring the Turducken, Gratin Potatoes, Green Beans and Peas with a Mint Vinaigrette and for dessert a Ricotta, Orange and Berry Tart.

It was going to be so easy, I’d never been this organised before. I would even have time to put up a post. I’d down loaded the photos from a previous bake, written some of the text the night before and all I had to do was shoot the finished masterpiece. That was the plan until, as you know, the fridge broke down on Christmas eve. All attempts to put up this rather long recipe were put on hold while I attempted to defrost the fridge (thinking this was the problem) and set up ice baths to keep the gargantuan quantities of meat, for the next 4 days of feasting, cold.

It is now late January and finally here’s the recipe.

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Start by making the pastry written up in this post. Because the tart will require quite a bit of extra cooking time only bake it until pastry has set and is just beginning to color. The pastry can be baked the day before and left unfilled if you are planning ahead.

This is a very light cheese cake in the Italian style, perfect after a big Christmas lunch. The filling is a suitable quantity for a 23 cm/9 inch removable base flan tin.

INGREDIENTS

First turn oven to 180 c or 350 f

RICOTTA FILLING

2 Eggs + 1 yolk

250 grams (9 ounces) ricotta

75 grams (1/3 cup) icing (confectioners/powdered) sugar

2 whole oranges (zest and juice)

125 mls (1/2 cup) cream

BERRY TOPPING

1 packet of frozen blueberries

1 jar of pitted morello/sour cherries

3 tablespoons of apricot jam

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Start by zesting oranges using a fine grater or micro plane, being careful to avoid the white pith as this will make the tart bitter, set aside.

Juice the 2 oranges and place in saucepan.

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Boil rapidly and reduce down to 1/3.

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Measure out ricotta and icing sugar.

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Place ricotta, eggs, icing sugar, zest and reduced orange juice in bowl. Blend till smooth.

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The mix should be the consistency of runny cream.

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Next place cream in separate bowl.

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And beat till thick.

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Fold this into ricotta mixture until combined.

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Place pastry, still in tin, on backing tray.

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Fill with mixture.

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And place in middle section of oven.

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It will need a minimum of 45 minutes and will be ready when centre has puffed up, is quite firm to touch and golden brown around the edges. This time will vary depending on your oven and size of eggs and moisture levels of ricotta. When you are satisfied that the centre is no longer runny (you can do this by gently pressing down and although soft it shouldn’t be wobbly) remove from oven.

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Then watch in horror as your beautiful tart sinks before your very eyes!

Set aside to cool before adding berries. It can made the day before and refrigerated without the berries.

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This recipe was taken from a newspaper article when I first baked it (according to the exact instructions). I almost wept when I saw the rapid deflation. Then I thought of a solution…I would fill the gaping cavity with berries. This has now become an essential part of the tart as the edge of the filling forms a golden halo around the berries. I have also changed the original recipe to make the filling fool-proof. The original recipe took 2 hours to bake, used lots more ingredients and wasted some. It made me wonder if it was ever tested by the person who wrote the article.

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In a colander rinse off about 1 1/2 cups of berries till no longer frozen and excess juice has drained away.

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Remove tart from flan tin and place on serving dish. The sides come away easily but I usually like to run a long knife between the pastry base and tin to help it slip off. If this is too scary leave the metal base…just don’t forget to bring it home!

Then place equal quantities of both fruits on paper towel to remove excess moisture. I’m being a bit vague about quantities of fruit as it will depend on how you like to decorate your tart. I refreeze blueberries if any are left over.

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I like to begin with a frame of dark blue berries, then cherries, but you can choose whatever you like.

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It’s really so simple yet stunningly gorgeous.

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Next melt jam in microwave till runny, sieve, then delicately brush apricot glaze over berries.

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Stand back and admire your glossy masterpiece!

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I was transporting the tart so I made a tent of toothpicks…

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and covered it in cling film ready for the trip!

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As I mentioned earlier the original photos were taken from a previous bake. I thought I’d include some glamorous??? pics of mum and I in our pyjamas on Christmas morning adding the berries to the tarts we were taking to lunch.

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I made two giant tarts, 28 cm/11 inch and 32 cm/12.5 inch, and only needed to double the quantity of pastry. For the filling I doubled it as well but used the extra whites (2×3 whole eggs) and an extra 100 grams of ricotta. surprisingly these slight changes made the filling cook much more quickly but made no difference to the taste of the tart.

Christmas lunch with our extended family was wonderful. We cooked too much and ate too much. And the problem with that…no fridge to keep the left overs!

P.S. The freezer section is still working which is surprisingly keeping the rest of the fridge cool enough to store some foods. But it’s not cool enough to keep perishables for any length of time. We are using my sons bar fridge for meat, milk etc.

My husband survived the boxing day sales and ordered a new fridge. We are still waiting on the delivery and putting up with the bullshit excuses as to why it’s not here. Our old fridge is limping along…fingers crossed it will survive to the mystery delivery date!

P.P.S. Off to Sydney tomorrow to start cruise. I am told there is only limited and very expensive internet access so you’ll have to wait for the pics and stories until I return.

Happy baking, much love Anna… see you in 2 weeks! xx

Anna Buckley Books

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