Orange Pomegranate Tart


Orange Pastry Cream
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
finely grated peel from one orange
1/8 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the flour until well incorporated. Set aside. In a small, heavy-bottomed pan, place the milk, orange zest, and the other 2 tablespoons of sugar, and heat until barely boiling. Remove from heat and pour half of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking until combined. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and put on medium-low heat, whisking constantly until mixture is thick (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until melted. If desired, press the pastry cream through a sieve over a bowl. Store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed on the surface for up to 3 days.

Pasta Frolla (sweet short crust)
1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar, or a scant 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour and salt. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or a fork.
 
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it.  Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can also refrigerate the dough overnight.

Heat the oven to 350F. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it, but keep the dough loosely covered.  Roll the crostata dough out between the plastic wrap, this prevents the dough from sticking to your surface without using flour, and makes it easier to transfer to your tart pan. 

If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.  Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch thick. Now flip the dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.

Cut a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the crust and extend out a bit over the edges of the pan. You can use pie weights or dry beans to blind bake. Place whatever weight you’re using directly on the parchment paper or aluminum foil in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil and continue baking the crostata shell until the border is light golden, about 5 minutes (watch carefully to avoid over-baking, which results in a hard shell). If you don't use a baking weight, the crust may rise in the middle: if that occurs, gently push it back down with the back of a spoon. Remove from the oven and let the crostata shell cool completely before proceeding.

Remove the crostata shell from the tart pan, and place on a serving plate.  Fill the cooled shell with the prepared pastry cream, then sprinkle the pomegranate arils over the top.  Enjoy!

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