Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I'd like to share with you the story of a disaster. All disasters have names, and this one is called the "the orange-almond tart disaster, courtesy of Dorrie Greenspan." I cook along on French Fridays with Dorie, with recipes from the book "Around my French Table," written by Ms. Greenspan. This last Friday we had to make an orange almond tart. There was a gorgeous picture of it in her book, which by the way is very elegantly photographed, so who wouldn't want to make such a tart?
Well, I was busy, I had to do this, I had to do that, and time got away from me. I never baked the darn thing. I had bought the ingredients though, and always on my mind there was the thought of that beautiful picture of the orange-almond tart. It was calling out to me. So I decided to bake it and post it even if it was going to be late. Almost a whole week late. I looked closely at the recipe and I encountered my first problem: butter. A pâte sablée dough makes up the 9 1/2 diameter crust, and along with flour and confectioner's sugar and an egg yolk, it requires 9 tablespoons of butter. That's bad. Too much butter. Now I know that in order to make a good pâte sablée or even a pâte brisée, a large amount of butter is needed. Hence I overlooked the fact that I had to use 9 tablespoons of the stuff. On top of the crust is spread an almond cream. Made with 6 tablespoons of butter. And lots of sugar. Sinful. As in too much butter in one place sinful. Keeping the dessert photograph in my mind though, I persevered. I made the crust. Buttery, sweet and delicious. I made the almond cream. Buttery, sweet and delicious. And now for the disaster: Arrange some orange slices on the tart and bake. Well, I arranged the orange slices, thinking all the while that peaches or apples would probably be a better choice. The tart came out of the oven. I let it cool, and then I tasted it. It was horrible. The pâte sablée was good, the almond cream was good, but the orange slices destroyed the whole concept. They were biter and hard. What a shame. Even though the oranges were juicy and sweet when I sliced them, baking them on top of the tart made them loose all their flavor. All the trouble I went through: made a nice pâte sablée. Made a nice almond cream. All the compromises I made: Never mind about too much butter, never mind about the sugar. In the end it will be worth it. Guess what? It wasn't. Everything got destroyed by using orange slices as a topping. Ms. Greenspan, your idea of an orange-almond tart quite plainly sucks. I was and still am very angry. I remember a comment I read on by a reviewer of Ms. Greenspan's book: "This is a collection of recipes that feels like it comes straight out of Greenspan's kitchen: which means that if your cooking style and tastes run with hers, you will like this book. If they don't, you won't." As far as this orange tart is concerned, my culinary taste and Ms. Greenspan's culinary taste could not have been more far apart.

The tart right before going into the oven. Looks good, doesn't it? If only those oranges were peaches. There would have been no problem at all.

Once the tart comes out of the oven powdered sugar is sprinkled on top.


  1. I understand you, I've been through similar disasters, but, what can you do? You yourself chose to cook with her. But the tart looks really lovely.

  2. june in ireland who loves to bakeFebruary 20, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Ohhhh nooooo! I feel your pain, Ana - I really do.

    But don't stress, my friend. Just do it your way from now on - peaches or apples on top, instead of the orange slices. Or maybe try it without orange slices on it at all. Even though it's Dorie's book and Dorie's recipe and the French Friday thing, it's still your tart and your baking expertise and taste, so don't feel bad about adapting it to the way you like it.

    Either way, do pat yourself on the back for a job well done on an excellent pâte sablée and almond cream.

  3. Sorry the oranges didn't work with your tart. Guess there's no way to predict how an orange will taste once its cooked. Luckily my oranges stayed sweet and delicious.

  4. Ana, thank you for the lovely compliments! I'm a little leary of ribs myself, but I liked that these could be eaten with a knife and fork - I'm too prissy to eat the ones that that you have to pick up with your hands! They were really good & surpassed my expectations. I'm sorry your tart didn't turn out - I made mine with pears. But my Double Chocolate Mousse was such a disaster that I couldn't bear to blog about it! I love Greek food, so will peruse your blog, too! Looking forward to more culinary adventures with you!