Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring to do it: 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 love trying new recipes. Especially for dessert. After all, dessert is almost always a good thing, so why not expand the base of options When I saw this recipe for the Daring Baker’s challenge I was both excited and a bit nervous. I had never heard of a tian before, and had no clue how I was going to pull this one off. It just looked so complex. And fancy... and I don’t really do fancy...! But when I broke it down into components, and gave myself a few days to think about my options, I knew that this would be a lot of fun.
To start with, I knew that I probably wasn’t going to do orange. Since any citrus was fair game, I wanted to do something,,, different. But I couldn’t narrow it down. I really wanted to use grapefruit, but I also know that Hubby loves lemon, and thought that the recipe would work great with it. But I thought that maybe a combination of lemon and grapefruit would be a bit too tart for one dessert. So I decided that I would simple have to make two tian (tians?)- one grapefruit and one lemon. I then thought that the lemon tian could only be enhanced by strawberries, so my two desserts were set.
The challenge called for us to make individual desserts, but allowed for family style. I thought I would be stuck making both of mine family style, as I do not have individual tart pan, not do I have good sized ramekins, or any other vessel which I thought would be an appropriate size. It was in the dollar store that inspiration struck: for $1.00 I purchased a pack of six 6 inch planter dishes. You know, the shallow plastic dished in which you place flower pots to catch the water. Yay! I could now make my individual tians! I decided to make the grapefruit as individuals and the strawberry-lemon as a family style dessert for a family birthday celebration.
But enough about my process. On to the dessert!
I started by making the marmalades. I made both flavors, the grapefruit and the lemon, at the same time, figuring if I was going to get messy and sticky, might as well do it once instead of twice! The process seemed daunting, as it required thinly slicing the citrus, then blanching it three times before you even got to the jelly-making part. But really, it wasn’t that bad. Time consuming? Sure. But not that bad, all things considered. The marmalades came out really well. The citrus flavors came through clearly, but there was enough sweetness to keep it from being overwhelming. (Luckily the desserts don’t use as much marmalade as the recipe makes, so there was plenty for snacking!)
Next I tackled the pate sablee. This seemed so fancy, but really it is “just” a pastry crust. Very similar to the pie crust I make, but richer with the addition of egg. I was worried I would have to make a double batch of the sablee dough to make both of the tian that I wanted to, but it turned out that a single batch made just the right amount – one big round for my spring form pan, and enough six inch rounds for the six “dishes” and two extra for test-tasting!

Segmenting the citrus was fun and messy I don’t know why I thought it was fun, but I did. I will make one recommendation/observation: segmenting citrus while the skin on your hands is dry and chapped? Not so much fun... But it got done, and the fruit was segmented and juiced and ready to go.

For many people, making the caramel was the scariest part of this process. I have made caramel before, so I had an idea of what I was in for there. The hardest part of it, for me at least, is letting the sugar cook and not touching it. No stirring, so swirling, nothing. I am not nearly patient enough for that! But I managed. Twice, actually, since I made grapefruit caramel sauce and strawberry-lemon.
For me, the most intimidating part of this process was the whipped cream. Believe it or not, I have never made whipped cream before! It worked, but not quite as well as I had thought it would. I don’t know if I added the sugar too rapidly or too soon, or if I needed to add the stabilizer (which I never thought of, but the recipe called for) differently or what, but I had expected my whipped cream to be a little lighter and fluffier or something. Maybe I am just too used to making meringues... Either way, the taste was good, and that’s the important part, right?

Assembling the desserts went well. I didn’t even break any of the pate sablee cookies! (This is an accomplishment for someone as klutzy as me!) And the end results? Really quite attractive! Hubby and I agreed that theses were very yummy and definitely this was a keeper recipe. Just not for every day use... Because of how much work it entailed, we agreed that this would be a recipe to pull out when we (“we,” since he doesn’t do any of it!) want to impress! And the family LOVED the strawberry-lemon tian! At the end of the evening there was only one piece left!

So thank you, Jennifer, for an amazing introduction to the world of tian! This has so much potential for variations, and I am really glad to have learned about this amazing dessert!


  1. Looks great, and I love your step by step photos! Strawberry and lemon sound like a perfect combination for spring!

  2. The strawberry and lemon one looks particularly good - I can see that being a fantastic "joint" dessert to have on the books.

  3. Sigh not a good idea to read DB posts. I have the biggest craving for oranges and berries :( Nice job!

  4. Good job! Can't wait for strawberries to be in season. 2 1/2 more months *sigh*.

  5. nice photos, great to see the process! nice job this month :)

  6. Lemon and strawberry sound so good! Your pate sablees are so perfect!

  7. Hey Ruth! Thanks for your comment. Yours look great! Not sure you've heard of it, but there's a non-dairy whipped cream called SoyaToo that they sell at Whole Foods in canisters. It's a bit soy-y and a little expensive, but it's the perfect consistency and is delicious once you get used to it. Hope that helps in your lactose-free culinary adventures! :)

  8. Wow your tians look so pretty & extremely delicious yumm!!

  9. Strawberry lemon marmalade is a wonderful idea and a ' Why didn't I think of that?' moment! I love your marmalde jars and your tian turned out beautiful. Nicely done all around :)

  10. I love your tian combo. The strawberries make it look even more appealing. Lovely job!

  11. Love the strawberries. When they are in season here I may make this again.