Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Daring Bakers Challenge, March 2010: Blood Orange Tian with Honey, Saffron and Cinnamon

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 was pretty excited when I saw the reveal for the March challenge. Tian. I had no idea what a tian was... and I still don't really understand what it is. Consulting various online food dictionaries indicated that tians are commonly considered to be some sort of mixed vegetable casserole, a definition that did not match the challenge recipe. Our hostess, Jennifer, selected a recipe for what was called an "orange tian". The desert comprised of thin pate sable crust, covered in a thick layer of whipped cream, topped with a final layer of citrus segments and drizzled with caramel sauce.

Definitions aside, this was yummy, and I think I will definitely be making it again... or at least I will be making this type of tian again. I am embarrassed to admit how much of the dessert (and dessert components!) I inhaled before A made it home. It took him just minutes to polish off the leftovers when he did arrive.

As part of the challenge, Jennifer required that we stick to citrus and attempt to supreme said citrus. It was a little messy, but definitely a skill I needed to master. Sadly, the perfectionist in me has now decided that citrus for salads will no longer be quickly chopped... going forward only cleanly supremed segments would suffice.

I deviated from the original recipe a bit. I am a little burned out on oranges (my husband eats about 9 of them a day meaning that there is always an orangey scent in our home), but lemons and limes aren't really my thing. Grapefruit - too winterey. Blood oranges were the only solution as they offered a sweet flavor and striking color for my dessert. With some help from the Flavor Bible, I opted to add honey, cinnamon and saffron to the blood oranges to give the dish a little something extra.

Pate sable is really just a giant sugar cookie. In fact, in the end I decided not to mold all four of my tians in favor of eating the crusts like cookies. For this dessert, any old pate sable recipe will do. Just roll the dough out before you cook it and cut it into rounds with the mold you plan to use for building your tian. The dough should be fully baked before constructing the tian.

Assembling the tian can be a little tricky, particularly since the ring mold has a tendency to slide around as you arrange the citrus layer on the bottom. The citrus slices are particularly juicy, as it is best to allow them to soak in their juices (and a bit of caramel sauce) overnight after they have been supremed. I placed my orange segments in a circular pattern, starting from the edge of the mold and spiraling inward until the entire bottom layer was covered.

When you have finished arranging the citrus, spoon a thick layer of stabilized whipped cream on top until the cream reaches the edge of the mold taking care to ensure that the cream is spread evenly. (Note: to stabilize whipped cream, mix a small amount of dissolved gelatin into the cream as it is being whipped) Take a one of the pate sable rounds and spread thin layer of marmalade on the top. Place the round on top of the mold, marmalade side down, pressing gently to secure.

Once all of the tians have been constructed on the sheet, move the sheet to the refrigerator and chill the desserts for several hours or until the cream has had time to grow firm. (My kitchen was hot, so I had to move mine to the freezer. When you are ready to serve the desserts, remove them from the refrigerator, place them crust side down on a plate and gently remove the mold. (Full disclosure: easier said than done!) Drizzle with orange caramel sauce and enjoy!

Of course in the end, if you have trouble with assembly, it makes a lovely trifle. Just crumble up the crust, and fill a glass with alternating layers of crust, cream, citrus sections and marmalade. Garnish with a slide of orange.

After reading through this post, I don't think I have done a good job at all of describing this dessert. Recipes for a few of the components are posted below. For the rest, ask if you have questions... or... as this is a Daring Baker's challenge and not my own creation, I am sure that others have posted better descriptions on their sites.

Marmalade recipe and orange caramel sauce recipe can be found after the jump!

3.5 oz freshly pressed orange juice (I used blood oranges)
1 blood orange

Cold water
5 grams pectin
Granulated sugar (weigh the cooked orange slides and use the equivalent weight of sugar)
2 tbsps honey
pinch of saffron threads
2 tsp cinnamon

Thinly slice the orange and place 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. Repeat this process three 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 in a food processor. Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar .

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice, honey, cinnamon, saffron, 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.

Orange Caramel Sauce for the Tian
200 grams granulated sugar
14 oz 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. Drizzle remaining sauce over the tian just before serving.


  1. Your blood orange tian looks gorgeous! And the trifle is a good idea :)

  2. Your tian is stunning! Honey, saffron and cinnamon sounds gorgeous.

  3. Looks just lovely!! The flavours sound just amazing!

  4. The trifle is such a great idea! And the blood oranges just make the dessert so beautiful, with their vibrant color, and I can only imagine how extra delicious the honey and cinnamon and saffron made it. Amazing job.

  5. I love the tians that have blood oranges, the colors are so vibrant! Great job!

  6. Thanks for all the great feedback guys! I really enjoyed this challenge.

  7. Your tian is one of the most beautiful I've seen in this challenge and the trifle idea is fantastic. Love the addition of honey, saffron and cinnamon too. Also, great photos..they really showcase the beauty of the blood oranges.

  8. The blood orange marmalade is very enticing. It looks so rich in flavor and very vibrant in color. I'll probably try it next week during our Book Club's meeting. I'll ask my son to buy clover honey and creamed clover honey later. Then, I can prepare my daughter's girl scout honey cookies recipe and for the marmalade as well. Thanks for the great idea!