blood orange poppyseed shortbread squares

I just love the taste and the look of blood oranges so whenever they appear in the fruit shop, I buy a few.

When I bought these oranges home from the fruit shop last weekend, I wasn't sure what I'd make. I found a photo of some lemon curd shortbread squares in
'The Cook and Baker' and inspired by the photo, I decided to create my own version.

The base comes from my tart lemon squares recipe and the blood orange and lemon curd I adapted from my regular lemon curd recipe. I've given instructions for making the curd in a bain marie and the microwave but I always make my curd in the microwave these days as it's such a quick and easy method.

Make the curd ahead of time as it needs time to cool and set. You can bake and cool the base before you plan to serve the squares, then put the slice together just before serving. I made the slice using blood orange and lemon curd because blood oranges are in season but you could use any curd you like. Lemon would be great or my favourite, passionfruit and lemon. Then finally, if you don't like poppyseeds, you can leave them out of the crumble topping.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven, so if your oven is fan forced, you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Blood Orange Poppyseed Shortbread Squares - makes 16

Blood Orange and Lemon Curd
1 egg and 2 large egg yolks
1 tsp each finely grated blood orange and lemon rind
60ml strained blood orange juice
60ml strained lemon juice
½ cup caster sugar
90g unsalted butter

Place the egg, egg yolks, the rinds, the juice and sugar into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until thickened or when the curd reaches 82°C when tested with a kitchen thermometer. 

If you'd like to make the curd in the microwave, place the egg, egg yolks, the rinds, the juice and sugar into a small microwave proof bowl and microwave on medium high in 1 minute bursts, stirring well at the end of the minute. Keep doing this until the curd thickens or the curd reaches 82°C when tested with a kitchen thermometer. (My curd took 4 minutes to reach this stage but sometimes it can take up to 6 minutes).

Pass the curd through a sieve to remove any eggy bits before adding the butter in small batches until incorporated. Set the curd aside to cool then spoon the curd into a sterilised jar. Store the curd in the fridge where it will last a week.

170g (6oz) unsalted butter
½ cup icing sugar
1 tsp grated blood orange rind
1½ cups plain flour
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp plain flour extra

Grease and line the base and sides of an 8 inch (20 cm) square tin with baking paper. In a food processor, combine the butter, icing sugar and grated orange rind and process until smooth. Add the flour and process until a dough is formed. Take out a little over half the dough and press into the base of the prepared tin. Add the poppy seeds and the additional flour to the remaining dough. Whiz a few times until the poppy seeds are incorporated, then wrap in plastic and place in the fridge. If you don't have a food processor you can make this by creaming the butter and sugar and rind in a bowl before adding the remaining ingredients.

Bake the base at 180°C/350°F (conventional oven) for about 20 minutes or until the base is lightly browned. Place on a wire rack until cool. When the base is cold, spread with all the curd then grate or crumble the reserved pastry over the curd. Return the slice to the oven for a further 20 – 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.

These went down a treat at work so I can't wait to make them again using another flavoured curd. Next time I might try making a batch of raspberry and lemon curd shortbread squares.

See you all again soon,

Bye for now,


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