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.
Where do I start? My brain is still trying to process the experience of my first Daring Baker's challenge. While each piece was not in itself a challenge to me, just making sure that I had read all the fine print, re-read helpful tips before getting started (and while baking), and making sure that I documented all my steps seemed to be the challenge for me. If any of you know me in real life you know that I like to do things correctly the first time through and I don't want to waste time or ingredients by messing up. This was somewhat of a test for me to take on recipes for various items that I had never made before and know that I might have to redo a step if it didn't work out like it was supposed to.
The recipe for Orange Tian was actually fairly easy to follow and put together even though all its elements needed to be made from scratch. There were essentially five parts: pate sablee (pastry crust), orange marmalade, whipped cream, orange segments, and caramel sauce.
The pate sablee, or pastry crust, took me by surprise a bit. I was expecting a flaky crust kind of like a pie crust whereas it actually resembled more of a sugar cookie. It was buttery and melted in your mouth. I didn't have any problems with this part of the recipe, besides trying to use my food processor that I never use instead of my Kitchenaid mixer.
Next up was the orange marmalade. This was an experience in and of itself. I remember when I was little and my family used to pick berries and then come home and make homemade jam. In all the years that we did that when I was younger, I had yet to make jam (or anything like it) as an adult. I probably could have minced the orange pieces smaller because they were a bit large when spreading on the pate sablee, but overall my marmalade experience went amazingly smooth.
I've made plenty of whipped cream before so I didn't figure I would have trouble with this part of the recipe. I'm not sure if I whipped it quite enough because it did seem a bit soft the moment it was out of the fridge, but it went together without a hitch.
Segmenting an orange was new territory for me. I am a visual learner so I was appreciative of the link that showed someone segmenting an orange on a cooking show. I'm not sure I would have been able to follow the directions if I hadn't been able to watch the demonstration. I should also mention here that the challenge allowed for variations in the citrus fruit used for the tian, so along with oranges I also made one with lemons and limes. Those were definitely a challenge to segment since they were so tiny and juicy. Once they sat in their juices all night they became a pile of mushy pieces so they weren't the prettiest things to work with. I would recommend using larger citrus fruit.
The caramel sauce was probably the most difficult of the individual pieces for me to make. My first batch (the two top photos) ended up going partially down the drain and partially in the garbage. Why both, you ask? Well, the fresh squeezed orange juice went down the drain and the rock hard caramelized sugar (at least the stuff I could get out of the pan) went into the garbage so no one would break their teeth on it. I followed the recipe heating the sugar in the pan until it turned bubbly, but it quickly went to brown which meant it burnt, and then immediately upon pouring orange juice into the pan the sugar turned into rock candy. Interesting science experiment but not something you want to have happen when you are trying to make a caramel sauce to soak your orange segments in.
Assembling all the pieces was a bit of a challenge. It had to sit in the freezer a bit longer than the recipe stated because the first time it came out the oranges started sliding off the whipped cream. The finishing touch: left over caramel sauce drizzled over the top. It was yummy and very rich! I would recommend doing smaller portions. The springform pan size could have served 2 or 3 and the small heart shape served one.
If you want the recipes you'll have to email me because they aren't posted at the Daring Bakers site anymore. Enjoy the orange tian!