Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daring Bakers: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I wasn’t as excited for this challenge when it was announced, and I kept asking myself why. Am I that enamored with chocolate? I’ve never thought of myself as a chocoholic, and while I don’t dislike oranges (let's be real -- is there any food I really dislike?), I just couldn’t get excited about this challenge. I almost skipped it, but my husband kept encouraging me to try it, so I persevered. Though I did take a couple days to bake and assemble everything.

First I had to look up the definition of “tian.” Basically it’s a layered casserole. In this case it’s a layered dessert consisting of a sweet pastry cookie layer on the bottom, followed by orange marmalade, whipped cream flavored with more marmalade, topped with orange segments that have been soaked in caramel. Sounds relatively easy enough, despite the fact I’d never segmented oranges.

First the marmalade.

Slice the oranges, blanch them three times, add sugar, orange juice, and pectin. The instructions told me to cook it "until the mixture reaches a jam consistency.” Well, I’ve never made jam (maybe I have, but it’s been a long time), so I kept waiting for it to thicken. It didn’t, so I kept adding more and more pectin. Finally it thickened up a little, so I poured it into a bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I had this…

So I decided to make this…

…and I attempted the marmalade again, this time with success.

The next day I made the pâte sablée. I didn’t have the multiple cookie cutters the recipe called for to make individual tians, so I used a couple small springform pans, and made a couple cookies with the leftover dough.

Segmenting oranges was the next task. I watched a how-to video and thought it looked easy enough, but I think I need a sharper and/or serrated paring knife. After the first couple it got easier, but it was definitely a challenge. Despite that, I did enjoy photographing the oranges.

If I’d thought about it, I would have used all the peels as stove-top potpourri, because there was a LOT of waste.

The caramel was another challenge part of the challenge. I never saw the sugar “bubble and foam,” so the first batch burned. I started the second batch, but the minute I added the orange juice, it hardened. Was it supposed to do that?

Now what? I decided not to add the remaining orange juice, but instead melted what I had and used that. (I don’t know what my logic was there. Why didn’t I keep adding the juice and melt all of it??) It seemed to have worked, however, and I had enough to soak the orange segments and have enough left over to pour over the top of the finished dessert.

Now for the fun part – assembly. I staged this shot for my scavenger hunt item, “under construction.”

First the oranges are arranged in the bottom of the pan.

Then the marmalade-flavored whipped cream…

Then more marmalade on the pâte sablée.

That gets turned upside down onto the whipped cream…

…and the whole thing goes into the freezer.

The recipe instructed me to place the whole thing in the freezer for 10 minutes or so, but my work schedule didn’t allow that, and it was in there a few hours before we had a chance to eat it.

It still tasted delicious, and my husband likened it to a 50/50 bar.

In the end, as always, I’m glad I made it. If nothing else I learned how to segment oranges, and I’m looking forward to adding citrus to my next salad. Plus I made brownie points with the neighbors, who got the extra orange tian.


  1. I want to know- How did you flip the cookie part upside down onto the whipped cream without breaking it?

  2. The cookie wasn't that delicate -- more like a "sturdy" shortbread. I just turned it upside down and placed it in.