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 had not heard of an orange tian before. I hadn’t heard of any kind of tian before, actually. My lack of knowledge demanded a Google search. A search of “tian” will give you some interesting results. According to wiki, tian (Chinese: 天; literally “Sky or heaven, heavens; god, gods”) is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion.
In the culinary world, however, tian is a French term “describing a type of cooking vessel used in the Alpes-Maritimes area of France. It is traditionally made from red clay and can be either glazed or unglazed. A modern tian can come lidded or not and sometimes has a looped handle on one side.
The vessel is used to cook a traditional braised vegetable stew also called tian. The unglazed vessels, filled with root and winter vegetables along with wine or rinds of cheese, were placed in the hot ashes of a fire and left to stew all day in gentle heat, somewhat like a Dutch oven.” You can read more here on wiki.
In this case, a tian is a dish composed of layers of ingredients. Many that I have found in my searches are vegetable tians and can be either hot or cold.
No vegetables or rinds of cheese are found this in this dish. This tian is a layer of orange segments, whipped cream, and orange maramlade with a base of rich pate sablee. The layers create not only a lovely presentation, but a great combination of flavors and textures. It tasted incredible.
This challenge, not unlike other challenges, was not without its share of hiccups.
- I over baked the pate sablee resulting in a large cookie that cracked upon removal from the baking sheet.
- I am no pro when it comes to segmenting oranges, so there were a few stray pieces of membrane in there. Check out this video on you tube for some tips.
- The whipped cream with the gelatin was super confusing, and I’m not sure if I did it right. I think it should have set up more? I just had to kind of go with it. It turned out OK…I think.
- I used a sheet pan to form the tian that I was sure would fit in the freezer. I was wrong. So, I had to transfer the dessert to another pan by sliding the silpat from the big pan to a smaller one. Sounds easy, right? Well, both pans had lips and so in this moving process some of the juices escaped and my cookie got a few more cracks. At least the cookie would end up at the bottom.
After that, I let the tian set for about an hour. When I flipped it out onto a platter it was beautiful! Not perfect, but not falling apart either. So, while this orange tian was not a complete success, it was not a failure.