What happens when you don't feel like blogging?
Well, you don't.
I needed to be fair on this magnificent orange and date tart, so I thought that I would wait until I was in a blogging frame of mind, lest I give it a foul review just because I wasn't feeling all too generous with my words. I don't know exactly what it was; a culinary funk, blogger's PMS, just lazy? But what I do know is that although I kept eating and baking, I just wasn't in the mood for documenting it with the sheer enthusiasm and veracity that I normally possess. Let's just call it a pause in the culinary freight train that has become my life since the inception of this blog.
I know for the past year and a half, I have been relentless in baking, cooking and chronicling my every move in the kitchen and the market. I must admit, I got a little tired of it all. I just wanted to make something, and eat it straight away and not have to wait until it has been adequately captured and recorded for the purposes of blogging. I just wanted to make something and not have to worry about its plating, its appearance, its colour scheme, what accessories to use, what background, what shots?
As much as I would like you to think that I just plonk a plate in front of the camera and the pictures practically take themselves, well that is quite the contrary. And while I don't go into as much detail and aren't as meticulous as other bloggers who create magnificently flawless images that I covet, I do put some thought into the images. And now,my brain hurts. I think I have reached a creative brick wall and I need some time to climb over it, or to somehow tear it down.
So now here I am, a few days later, when I've shaken the cobwebs off my dusty brain that I bring to you this tart. I'm still feeing a little rusty, a little creatively dry, and I'm still waiting for that new eureka moment but I cannot keep shut about this tart. I made it about a week ago, but I just couldn't shake off the thought of not sharing this with you. I might be in a bit of a blah stage right now, but this tart is nowhere in the vicinity of blah-dom.
I don't know what it is exactly about a tart that makes me swoon. Is it the lovely melt in your mouth pastry? The dainty filling inside? How it always manages to look so innocently wicked? I don't know what it is but this tart has it all, a rustic elegance that is luxurious yet still modest and austere. It isn't overreaching, but it's got enough good to get you to love it.
I have never paired dates and oranges before, and it simply wasn't a flavour combination that I would think up off the top of my head. But what I do know now is that it works. I now cannot fathom how citrus flavour cannot go with anything. It seems like their flavours perfectly meld with whatever it is paired with and this tart is no different. The citrus breaks up the inherent sweetness of the dates and provides a little tang to go with all that sugar.
Dates can be incredibly sweet, but the great thing is that their sweetness is natural and with it comes the goodness of fibre and lots of vitamins. Who doesn't want a little helping of fibre and potassium when eating their dessert? Add little glob of thick double cream and there you have a little slice of bliss.
The cardamom syrup also adds a little bit of sugar and spice to the mix, but if you find the tart by itself sweet enough then I don't think the syrup is all too necessary. The tart might get a little dry the next day without the syrup, but I really don't think that it will last that long.
Like I said, I might have run into a brick wall creatively, but I hope this doesn't steer you away from trying this tart. You never know it might just be the thing to jolt me back into the creative groove. Sugar has all sorts of effects on me.
And don't fret, I will still be writing posts. I just thought I should warn you that I'm not feeling all that inspired right now, you know, just in case I let out a half hearted rendition that will leave you all befuddled in the same way that opening of the VMA's have. Need I say any more, here is the recipe for Orange and Date Tart.
Orange & Date Tart
recipe from Delicious Magazine 2002
250g plain flour
110g pure icing sugar
110g unsalted butter, chilled
16 fresh dates, pitted, halved
5 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
1 orange, zested
thick double cream, to serve
10 green cardamom pods
1 orange, zested
6 oranges, juiced
225g caster sugar
2-3 tbs brandy
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Place flour and icing sugar in a food processor and process to combine.
Add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add egg and process until a smooth ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry on a floured surface and use to line a rectangular tart pan with removable base.
Line pastry with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and return to oven for 10 minutes until crisp and golden.
Place halved dates in pastry case.
Reduce oven temperature to 160°C.
Beat egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl until combined.
Stir in cream, then strain.
Stir in zest and pour over dates.
Bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, to make the syrup, use a mortar and pestle or rolling pin to lightly crush cardamom pods.
Remove seeds and discard pod.
Place seeds in a pan with remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring, to dissolve sugar.
Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
Set aside to cool before serving with the tart.
Serve with a dollop of double cream.