Orange is the new black
This humble fruit is a delight in savoury as well as sweet dishes, says Rachel Allen. Photography by Tony Gavin
The orange is a fruit so ubiquitous, we could almost take it for granted, but one taste of its assertively sunny sweetness reminds us that this citrus family member is a fruit worth reckoning with. In its element in a baker’s kitchen, the orange brings a touch of old-fashioned loveliness to cakes, meringues and pastries. One of my all-time favourite cakes is a classic Victoria sponge scented with orange zest and a little juice, sandwiched together and covered with a deliciously buttery orange icing.
Meringues love a bit of finely grated orange zest folded through the mixture just before baking, and this great-at-any-time-of-the-year orange curd is a joy, wrapped up with whipped cream inside a meringue roulade, as in the recipe, opposite. This quantity of orange curd is enough for two meringue roulades. The curd is also great with regular meringues and cream, cakes or even little drop scones. It will keep in the fridge for a week to 10 days. If you want to make enough curd for just one meringue roulade, then halve the recipe here, but rather than half an egg yolk, use a whole yolk.
Oranges love cream, so adding a touch of orange zest into a creme brulee or creme caramel will work a treat, as does, by the way, an orange posset. I love how the cooks of the Middle East often include oranges in rich, dense almond cakes, and in tagines, too. This quick breakfast or dessert of orange, pomegranate and mint, pictured here, gets an orange double whammy with a generous sprinkle of orange blossom water — which is also great with a scattering of pistachio nuts, if you like them. I ate something like this every morning for breakfast when I was in Marrakech recently; sometimes the pomegranate seeds were replaced with cinnamon for a change.
Oranges in savoury dishes are fabulous, too. Of course, the French knew this when they created the classic The gently acidic fruit is a subtle foil to the rich meat, as it also is with goose and pork. I love it when sweet, pan-fried scallops are tempered with segments of juicy orange, or how pan-fried fillets of John Dory welcome a touch of orange zest in a classic
blanc. duck a l’orange. beurre
Lastly, for a fresh take on a roast chicken, this salad with fennel and orange, right, is just the job for a summery supper.