Monday, January 17, 2011

Peace Through Pie: Tangerine Cream Tart

I learned about the Peace Through Pie movement from my boss. She knew that I’d jump at the chance to bake for a good cause so she passed along a message regarding a pie social.

Right she was.

In fact, I was delighted to participate in Peace Through Pie’s 3rd annual Dream Pie Social to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event was held at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, a historic landmark founded by freed slaves in the Clarksville neighborhood in Austin, TX. The Pie Social featured a service with music from the fabulous Bells of Joy, a pie contest, silent pie auction, and a pie tasting. All proceeds from the event went to the church’s restoration fund.

What better way to celebrate Dr. King’s teachings on unity, equality, love, and non-violence than to share pie with others?

Pie + Love = Peace

The kiddos at Matthews Elementary provided artwork for the event with their hopes and dreams.

Tangerine Cream Tart
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”

I swear “Does not follow instructions well” should be my epitaph. Admittedly, a tart is not technically a pie but they are closely related. Often, they share the same chapter in a cookbook, which is exactly how I came to make a tart instead of a pie. I was dutifully searching for a pie recipe to utilize some lovely Carrizo Springs tangerines I picked up at the market when I happened upon Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for this orange cream tart in Baking: From My Home to Yours. I knew it would be the perfect way to highlight the tangerines so I just couldn’t pass it up.

This tart dough is challenging to work with and so I added a few steps to the recipe that I think would be helpful. I found chilling the dough well before working with it greatly helps with handling. Much like shortbread, this dough is a pâte sablée and is “sandy” meaning it will feel dry and crumbly. Dorie’s instructions call for pressing the crumbly dough into the tart mold but you must not overwork the dough by pressing too much or too heavily or you’ll lose the crumbly shortbread texture. Even though I added an additional ½ egg yolk, I still found the dough too dry and had to work it more than I liked to line the tart mold. Consequently, the crust stuck to the bottom of the mold and was tougher than I liked. I had placed the second round that I reserved for making the star cookies to top the tart in the refrigerator over night and it rolled out very easily and was a breeze to work with. So I adjusted the recipe instructions to chill the dough so that it can be rolled out and fitted into the mold instead of pressed in. I also recommend re-chilling the tart well before serving, as the filling will loosen up when whisking it to fill the tart shell. Re-chilling will allow it to set up again so it won’t be runny when serving.

The cookie topping on this tart is optional but is a cute touch. Dorie’s instructions call for using any cutter shape as long as the cookie is less than 2” in diameter. Since I’m in Texas, I used a star cookie cutter. When I first moved to Texas, my old co-worker, Ellen (a displaced yankee) and I spent much time discussing the peculiarities of Texans. She gave me some very sage advice regarding a PowerPoint design that I  find widely applicable in many other arenas. She told me, “Put a star on it- they’ll love it!” Since then, whenever possible, I heed her advice.

Orange Filling
1 c sugar
Grated zest of 3 tangerines
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
Scant 3/4 c fresh tangerine (or orange) juice
3 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 t unflavored gelatin
1 T cold water
2 3/4 sticks (11 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at cool room temperature

Sweet Tart Dough- makes two 9” rounds
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c confectioner’s sugar
1/2 t salt
2 sticks plus 2 T (18 T) frozen, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-3 large egg yolks

1. In a food processor, add the flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt to the processor bowl and combine by pulsing a couple of times. Scatter the butter pieces in the bowl and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. In a small bowl, stir the egg yolks to break it up and then add it to the processor bowl a little at a time and pulse after each addition. When all ingredients have been added, pulse the mixture in 10 seconds intervals until the dough forms clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly knead the dough to incorporate any remaining dry ingredients. Divide the dough in two and work each portion into a loose disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for approximately 1 hour.
2. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll one of the dough rounds out between two pieces of wax paper and then wrap over the rolling pin to transfer to the tart pan. Use the pin to lay the dough round over the top of the tart pan and, using your hands, gently and evenly work it into the bottom and sides of the pan. ***Reserve a small amount of dough and place it in the refrigerator for use in case the crust cracks while baking. Place the tart pan in the freezer to allow the crust to freeze for at least 30 minutes (longer is better- I placed mine in the freezer over night) before baking.
3. While the tart shell is freezing, roll out the second dough round to approximately 1/8” thickness and use any cookie cutter with less than a 2” diameter to cut out cookie shapes for topping the tart. Brush the cookies with egg wash (beat an egg with a tablespoon or two of water) and sprinkle with decorating sugar. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 - 13 minutes and watch them closely so that they don’t color too much. Turn halfway through baking and take out of the oven when done but still pale. Place on a rack to cool.
4. For this recipe, you will fully bake the crust before filling it. With the rack centered in the oven, preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and wrap the buttered side of the foil tightly against the crust. Pie weights won’t be needed since the crust is frozen. With the tart pan placed on a baking sheet, bake the crust for 25 minutes and then remove the foil. If puffy, use the back of a spoon to press it down gently.
5. Bake the crust for another 8 minutes or so until golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack to cool the crust to room temperature before filling.
***Dorie’s note on patching the crust: If there are any cracks, patch with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice of a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. Bake for another 2 minutes to take the rawness off the patch.
6. To make the filling, have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor on hand. In a saucepan large enough to sit a mixing bowl over, add a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.
7. In a large heatproof bowl of a size that will fit over the saucepan, rub the sugar and lemon and orange zests together between your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs and then the orange and lemon juice. Set the bowl over the sauce pan of simmering water and start whisking as soon as the mixture feels slightly warm to the touch. The cream must be cooked until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit while whisking constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. As the cream gets close to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, you will feel it begin to thicken. When the cream is thick enough that the whisk leaves tracks, it’s almost ready. Note: this process can take as long as 10 minutes. As soon as the cream comes up to temperature, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor) to remove the bits of zest.
8. Soften the gelatin in the cold water, then microwave for 15 seconds to dissolve it. Add the gelatin to the filling and pulse once to blend, then let the filling cool to for about 10 minutes. With the processor going, add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides as you add to ensure all butter is incorporated. Once the butter has been added, continue to process the cream for another 3 minutes. If the machine starts to get hot, work in 1-minute intervals, to allow it to rest between beats.
9. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 10. When you are ready to assemble the tart, whisk the cream until it has loosened and then pour the cream evenly into the crust and use an offset spatula to smooth. Place the tart into the refrigerator to allow the filling to set up again, at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, remove the tart from the refrigerator and top with the cookies.


  1. What a beautiful post and beautiful tart! Stunning. I am glad to know that about the "star" cookie cutter, since I recently moved to Houston!

  2. Shelly, what a nice looking the idea of tangerine...absolutely mouthwatering :-)

  3. It looks delicious, and gorgeous. I love the stars on top.
    I usually chill my tart dough/pâte sablée too - to make it more flaky.

  4. The stars make it look so pretty! Haha, I guess those were a good idea. Tangerine cream sounds so delicious, too!

  5. Thanks, all, for your kind comment.

    @Nina- Yes! Invest in a star cookie cutter post haste. Nevers hurts to ingratiate yourself with the locals :-)

  6. This is a lovely post and your tart sounds amazingly good. This is my first visit to your blog, so I've been browsing through your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  7. This sounds like a very worthwhile event. I really enjoyed your description of the MLK Day activities in Austin. The pie/tart looks great, and I like the stars a lot. But you're in Texas, right, so why more than one?

  8. So nice to know about such a wonderful event right here in Austin! Glad you were able to go and enjoy it! Luv this tart! It looks SO good...

  9. OMG - I could totally spread peace through pie... it is my favorite thing in the world. You know, when I get a real kitchen, you may just inspire me to bake (God help us all).

  10. @Mary- Thanks so much for stopping by.

    @Stevie- You're right. If I were a true Texan, I would have only had one star. I have so much to learn about this "country/republic" :-)

    @UrMom- You should check it out next year. It's an annual event. The pie contest was a blast and I won some cool loot!

    @Ellen- Thanks for the inspiration! And I can't wait to see what you bake- it will be delicious I know. I still miss your sauce!

  11. That tart is simply "dreamy." I am not great with directions. I think its because i have the same attention span as a peanut.
    *kisses* HH

  12. beautiful pie for a beautiful event. so difference between pie and tart. is it that pie has a top?

    so would pizzas be tarts?!


  13. Sounds like a great MLK day event. And, I agree that a tart and a pie are pretty closely related. The filling sounds delicious, and the stars look great. It is crazy how often I see big stars here and there in this state of ours!

  14. Thank so much for being a part of the Sweet Home Peace Through Pie event! It is such a great joy to celebrate Dr. King's legacy with the coolest culinary tradition around. When I baked the inaugural Peace Through Pie buttermilk pie in 1995 (with the realization dawning on me that this act would usher in a new kind of hearth-centered peace movement) I could only dream that one day the pie would be served on the table of brotherhood....onward Pie-o-neers!
    Luanne Stovall, Founder, Peace Through Pie

  15. @Heavenly- Thanks!

    @Linda- IMHO, a pie should have a light, flaky crust that doesn't contain any sugar. Most tart doughs that I make do contain sugar and are denser and more crumbly. But that's just my interpretation. Not sure what the official distinction is.

    @Lisa- Yeah, the star thing is a hoot! As a native Floridian, I love my state but I wouldn't go so far as to have a leaded glass front door with an orange on it.

    @Luanne- Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for organizing all those wonderful events. I can't wait till next year!

  16. I would like to know how to get a copy of that cookbook. I live in SC and saw it on the cooking email is: