Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spiral of Citrus

Another dessert takes center stage at Daring Baker's. 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.

The tian is a layered dessert: a crispy crust (pate sablee), a layer of homemade orange marmalade spread over the crust, a whipped cream firmed up with some gelatine and flavored with a little of the orange marmalade, and finally, a layer of citrus sections - all topped with an orange caramel drizzle. The basic recipe called for oranges as the citrus; however, we were free to try other things. I used Meyer lemons, oranges, blood oranges, tangerines, limes and kumquats.

I had a few issues. It is tough to write a recipe which covers all the ground and anticipates questions. I did the caramel twice. Dry sugar caramel presents challenges for me - I never get it right. So I tried again, after checking "Caramel," my favorite caramel reference cookbook, and added some of the orange juice to the sugar at the beginning, along with a drop of corn syrup, which helps with the caramelization. That seemed to work, although when I added the rest of the orange juice, it seemed like way too much. While it did cook down and become more syrupy, it wasn't as thick as I would have preferred.

When I made the pate sablee, I cut out a piece that should have been the size of the mold I was using to construct the dessert. It may have spread a little or I misjudged somehow, but it was slightly too big, so it had cracks - but that's our little secret because the pate was on the bottom and not visible!

And unmolding a dessert, even a frozen dessert, is always a little scary. I really wanted this to look pretty, so I held my breath the whole time. That works, doesn't it? What also works, although this was a bit accidental, is that I used a springform pan for my mold. After I ran a knife around the tian, I carefully opened the springform and took it off before turning my tian right side up. Perfect!

Here is a slice of the tian with the whipped cream and orange marmalade filling. This dessert was a bit fragile. It was fine when it was frozen, but as it warmed up, the pastry softened a bit and the juices started dripping out of the citrus. Best kept refrigerated until consumed - and best eaten quickly, which was not a problem!


  1. Beautiful tian, I'm sure it will be eaten quickly :)

  2. I love your presentation of your tian! I bet the medley of citrus would taste amazing!

  3. It's so pretty! I had issues with the caramel sauce and I'm a breath holder too.

    The big day is fast approaching! I got home from my trip yesterday and I'm excited to see everyone's reaction to our challenge. How was your trip?

  4. What a lovely idea to mix all that citrus up!! Give a lovely color and texture to yout Tian.