Orange Tian for Daring Bakers March 2010

Orange Tian 1 copy

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.

What a wonderfully bright and cheerful dessert just in time for Spring! Oranges just brighten up a gloomy day with their color and refreshing taste, don't you agree?! For me, this was just the perfect way to signal the end of THE coldest winter of my life.

Oranges Collages

The tian has many steps to its assembly, which, gave me the leisure of creating it over two days and taking yet another day for photographing it.The trickiest part was to get the right firmness for the whipped cream since I chose not to use gelatin in making it. I just had to leave it in the freezer for longer to let it set well enough for easy (and neat) unmolding.

My favorite step in putting this dessert together was making the marmalade. Generally, I don't like marmalade much because it tends to be bitter and I really don't much like taking the bitter pill. But, this one wasn't bitter at all! It was more like jam just with more pizzaz... and a crunchier texture! :) I am going to bookmark this recipe and definitely make more again!

Orange Marmalade copy

Since, I was a bit pressed for time this month, I pretty much stuck to the recipe. My only creative contribution was towards the presentation with the spikehead of spun toffee. Although the dessert was gorgeous by itself and the color from the oranges so vibrant, it seemed a bit two dimensional on its own on a plate. It called for visual 3D appeal. I thought about it for a bit and spun toffee seemed a nice note, extending the caramel theme that was already going on. Plus, I had never made spun toffee before, so it was a challenge for me.

When I first read the method, I shrugged and thought this should be a breeze. Yeah sure! I tried multiple methods; pressing two forks together and then pulling them apart, draping over utensil handles etc. But, somehow the threads were always too delicate and would break too soon.

Orange Tian Close up 1

I think I used up about half a pound of sugar in my experimenting! Frustration mounted, but, I couldn't give up. I had to get it right (I was really out of any other inspiration for my 3D display!) Finally, it happened. Yippeee!! The technique that finally worked was by using a whisk and my fingers as a reference mold.

As to the taste, the verdict was all good. It was refreshing and distinctly citrusy. I had flavored the pate sablee with orange zest as well. And, the caramel poured on top lent a smooth finish to the dessert and the toffee a good crunch!

Orange Tian

Orange Tian with Spun Toffee

**Note: I reduced the amounts of sugar from the original recipe since I prefer my dessert less than very sweet. Please adjust sweetness to your taste.**

For the Pate Sablee:
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
4 T granulated sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup + 3 T unsalted butter, ice cold, cubed
1/3 tsp salt
1.5 cup + 2 T all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, zest and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle. Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:
Juice of 2 oranges
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
5g pectin
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked ( I think I used about 3/4th this amount. It was still a bit too sweet)

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices. Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor). Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:
Use as many as you need.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

For the Caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
1.5 cups + 2 T orange juice

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it. Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon

In a bowl, whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Increase the speed to medium-high. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

Assembling the Dessert:
Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer. Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel. Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use. Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough. Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for atleast 30 minutes (especially if you didn't use gelatin). Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Spun Toffee:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T water

Heat the sugar and water on medium until the syrup starts discoloring. This will be over 250F. Remove from heat and let it cool for a minute. Dip a whisk in the liquid toffee and lift. If it leaves a very thin trail of liquid and falls easily, it needs to cool a bit more.

This is really a trial and error method. Once, the toffee has cooled enough to start hardening when you pull it into threads, using your fingers as guides spin the toffee threads into the shape you want. I am still getting there, hence the spike head! :)

Orange Tian 2