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.
*rush rush rush rush rush* Whew!
Obviously, I am very, very late for this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge, and I apologize for that. It’s been very stressful and busy lately, and I just couldn’t put the time aside. Still, it’s the first time I’ve ever been late, with 11 challenges under my belt… so it’s not a terrible track record yet.
I wasn’t familiar at all with Orange Tian. Whenever I mentioned tian to anyone, they associated it with vegetables. But what we were challenged to make by Jennifer, our hostess, was a layered dessert consisting of pâte sablée, citrus marmalade, stabilized whipped cream, and caramel-infused citrus segments.
I had made pâte sablée before, and it was as forgiving and delicious as I remember. It’s a very rich pastry dough that could practically be eaten as a cookie, thanks to its crumbly texture. It goes great with fruity concoctions.
We were free to use any kind of citrus for this challenge. I initially wanted to use blood oranges, but my grocery store was out of them, so I stuck with plain old oranges. The first step was to make marmalade. Now, I’m not much of a jam-maker: I just don’t like cooking fruit, I prefer to eat them fresh. But every now and then, it’s a fun process to go through. I slightly overcooked my marmalade, but it was good enough to serve its purpose.
It had been a long time since I had last made caramel. I think it’s always going to be scary: the hissing and spattering when you pour the liquid over the boiling sugar always makes me feel a little overwhelmed. But I’m getting used to it.
I had never segmented an orange before, because I just don’t use oranges much in my cooking and baking. And when I do, I only use the zest and the juice. Properly skinning and cutting out the segments took some practice, and was a lengthy process. After two oranges, I was ready to throw down my sticky fruit knife. But by the sixth and final one, I was actually starting to enjoy it.
Finally, I’m very happy to have learned how to make stabilized whipped cream, because I can think of so many applications for it. It’s basically just whipped cream with gelatin, but it does hold so much better and longer than the regular kind.
I used deep baking rings to assemble four little tians. They were a bit too large for one person, but perfect for sharing. We were instructed to freeze the tians for ten minutes, but I made them ahead and froze them for a few hours, thawing them 30 minutes before serving, to give me time to take pictures.
They were still a little frozen when we dug into them, but it wasn’t a bad thing: the cream tasted a little like frozen yogurt. I did like the orange tian, but if I make this again, I would definitely try more complex flavours. However, I do love the concept, and I want to thank Jennifer for introducing us to it. It's a very good-looking, fresh-tasting dessert that is sure to make an impression on guests!
So, um, better late than never?