Orange crumb pie

orange and breadcrumb pieorange blossoms on orange tree

I could feel my tongue hanging out and my tail wagging writing this post. It’s been too long and I am too excited! So many thoughts amassing here: you’ve got the completed book series; our orange tree and its heady coverage of blossoms (and first crop of oranges); Harry Potter (an unlikely twist, I know!); and of course this orange and breadcrumb pie – an old-fashioned beauty I think you should make 🙂

The orange tree
We planted it at least 5 years ago. We have watched it, watered it, pruned off the galls, willed it along, considered pulling it out, and finally it has sprung into action. We had our first little crop of oranges, and in late winter/early spring it was covered in blossoms, which smell so intense – an aromatic hit up the nostrils (no wonder someone invented orange-blossom water).

The book series
I haven’t been blogging much lately. It is not that I haven’t been writing recipes – I have. More than ever, actually. But I’ve been putting them into a new series of mini cookbooks, which I am proud to say is complete. Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring – these books are my heart, vying to capture yours. I like to joke that some people spend their extra money on new shoes or clothes, while I like to spend mine on printing!

I introduced this series with my last post (sweet potato roti) … To summarise what these Melbourne-made books are all about: obviously the food is seasonal – a roll call of the dishes I love to make through the year. At the same time these recipes roam the globe, visiting interesting corners like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Argentina, Egypt. In the mix are a few reinvented Australian English dishes (along the lines of this pie), speedy weeknight pastas, breakfasts …

While small, the books are brimful of inspiring but simple and healthy ways to cook and eat. The recipes are mostly vegetarian. There are stories, excitement and passion behind each dish. The photos are by me, and Nicole Stewart’s colourful illustrations and design add a rich layer of beauty and uniqueness. These books are $20 each or $70 for the set (postage included). I can post them overseas for a little more …

How does Harry Potter fit in?!
The connection comes with this pie, because when I made it again recently, tweaking the recipe and using golden syrup instead of sugar, it reminded me of treacle tart. Something I would never have eaten before had I not had a daughter into all things Harry Potter. We threw a Harry Potter dinner party for her and her friends last year, dining on veggie pasties, shepherds pie, Yorkshire pudding, and peas and carrots, with treacle tart as the birthday cake! Apparently Harry’s favourite.

A treacle tart is made with breadcrumbs and an UNBELIEVABLE quantity of golden syrup. It is wickedly good – apparently Julia Roberts is a fan, but who wouldn’t be. You won’t catch me making it again unless duty calls, because it has no redeeming features, at all.

What I am really trying to say is this pie is better! It has a minimal amount of golden syrup in comparison, and is freshened up with orange and lemon juice and lots of delicious threads of orange zest …

orange and breadcrumb pie

Orange crumb pie

The recipe comes from a red-checkered book that was once my nana’s, and is found in the chapter: Appetising Leftovers. (The bread for the breadcrumbs is the leftovers, I gather … Leftover bread generally equals toasted sandwiches in our house! But I do make a batch of fresh breadcrumbs from an enture loaf every now and then, and throw the excess in the freezer – particularly if we are making something like schnitzels.)

One difference between a pie and a tart: a pie is more casual, made in a plain tin with no need to mess around with blind-baking. So yes, you do need to make or buy shortcrust pastry for this pie, and you do need to make or buy fresh breadcrumbs, but once you have those, the recipe is not difficult.

Compared to the flavour of a lemon tart, which I am sure you would be familiar with, this pie is less rich and more cakey. The filling is vibrant and lightly marmaladey. If you have one of those hand-held citrus zesters that pare zest off in threads, then here is its time to shine.

shortcrust pastry (you can use the recipe here, and if not wanting a large amount of leftovers, halve the recipe using 1 egg yolk instead of the whole egg)
60 g butter, melted
90 ml golden syrup
3 eggs
2 oranges, zested into threads with a hand-held zester (if you don’t have one, slice off the rind in thin strips, then slice into fine slivers) and juiced to give 120 ml orange juice
30 ml lemon juice
30 ml brandy, rum or other alcohol of choice
1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs

Butter a pie dish (mine is 24 cm wide) and dust it with flour. Roll out your chilled shortcrust pastry on a floured surface until about 5 mm thick. Roll the pastry loosely around your rolling pin, then lift the rolling pin over the dish. Unroll the pastry into it. Fill any holes by pressing scraps of pastry into them. If you like a thick crust, you can fold down a cuff of pastry all around the edge of the pie – otherwise trim the pastry flush to the top of the dish. Chill the pastry shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.

Whisk the butter, golden syrup and eggs together. Stir in the zest, juice, alcohol and breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the chilled pastry shell (no need for weights) for about 10 minutes, until lightly cooked without colour. Scrape in the filling and return the pie to the oven. Turn the oven down to 160°C and bake for 20–30 minutes, until the pastry rim is golden and the filling is set.

Serve warm or cold with cream (double cream is perfect).

Serves 8–10

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