Orange Poppy Seed Tart With Cream Cheese

Poppy seeds are widely used in cooking the world over. Neither sweet nor savoury, they add a delicious nuttiness and texture to many dishes. They often feature prominently in desserts and traditional, ritual dishes such as Kalach, an East Slavic bread. The poppy seed roll is also a popular food and variations can be found in Hungarian, Czech, German and Polish cooking, to mention just a few.

Although there are approximately 90 different types of poppy, did you know that the one that is commonly cultivated to provide poppy seeds for cooking is the same variety Papaver somniferum that is also used for opium? But no, you cant get high eating poppy seeds.

Orange and poppyseed go together very naturally. Its a wonderful, classic food combination. The recipe below is an easy and delicious version of this widely loved pairing.

Prep takes 25 minutes
Ready in 65 minutes
Serves 8 people

* 1 1/3 cups flour
* Pinch of baking powder
* 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
* 100g butter, chopped
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup caster sugar
* 375g block of cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup caster sugar, extra
* 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
* 2 eggs, extra
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* Finely grated rind and juice of one orange
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 oranges, extra, thinly sliced

* Combine the baking powder, flour, butter and poppy seeds in a blender or food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Whisk together the sugar and egg, then mix into the dry ingredients. You can pulse to combine. Gently knead the mixture until it is smooth. Wrap it and put into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

* Between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the pastry so it can line a 24cm round fluted tart pan. (Use one with a removable base.) Prick the pastry well with a fork then put it back into the fridge and chill for a further 20 minutes. Bake your pastry in a hot oven at 200C for about 10 minutes, or until the pastry case is a light gold colour.

* Next, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and extra sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the extra eggs, stir through the sour cream, orange rind and juice, then pour into the prepared base. Bake in a moderate oven at 180C for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tart is just set and a nice golden shade. Allow the pie to cool before removing from the pan.

* Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring this mixture to the boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the slices of orange, turn the heat down and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes or until the orange is softening and tender. Remove the oranges from the syrup and allow both to cool. Use the orange slices to decorate the tart, and also drizzle the tart with the syrup.

Slices of this orange and poppy seed tart are delicious served with a dollop of rich, thick vanilla bean ice cream or a light pouring cream flavoured with fresh passionfruit pulp and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.


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