Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Orange Tian (sort of) – March DB Challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on March 27, 2010

  It’s a strange thing, the places an idle mind will go.  I had every intention of sticking close to this months challenge recipe, but one thing leads to another and here we are.  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.  


Shortbread, caramel, orange segments, toasted meringue


Far be it for me to tweak any recipe offered from a 3 star chef.  But I’ve been on a kick lately that has been far to much fun to resist.  A few weeks ago the New York Times ran an article in their Recipe Redux series in which chefs take an old recipe for chocolate caramels and ‘re-interpret’ it.  From that one starting point they came up with Black-Sugar-Glazed Medjool Dates With Pecorino and Walnuts How they get from point A to point B is the really interesting story.  With that in mind, I decided why not travel pretty far from the original idea this month.  My apologies to our host for not following the rules very closely.  Chef Ducasse I hope will forgive me.

Chocolate 'soil', pink peppercorn ice-cream, orange powder, orange tuile


The Orange Tian recipe this month is in essence a pate sable crust with some stabalized whipped cream, flavored with orange marmalade and topped with segmented oranges with a caramel sauce.    

grapefruit caviar with mint


So, with a cookie/cream/segmented fruit/caramel starting point, let’s see where it takes us.  Tian, apparently is all about layers, so why not approach this like a lasagna, cookie, cream, cookie, caramel, cookie, etc.  What about a ‘deconstructed’ approach, with a bunch of lone elements on the plate?  Maybe a plate full of small entremont cubes?  Let’s just say the baking sketchbook was filled with structurally impossible, and technically challenging ideas that didn’t make the final cut.  



We start then with a simple shortbread cookie.  The pate sablee crust wouldn’t have worked here, as it was too crumbly for picking up with your hands.  Michael Laiskonis wrote a fascinating post about designing pastry to be ergonomic, Which got me to thinking this should be small enough and strong enough to eat by hand.  Likewise it should be no wider than the segmented oranges.

lemon caramel


The caramel was to be much more solid and thicker, but the soft caramel recipe I tried ended up as a giant plank of sugary concrete.  (my fault, not the recipe).  Rather I threw some sweetened condensed milk in the microwave for a series of 2 minute spurts (at half power) until it darkened and thickened enough to make a dulche de leche sauce, then added 1/2 tsp of lemon extract to give it some citrus charector. 

poached blood orange segments

 The blood orange segments then were layered on top.  Blood oranges though can be overpoweringly tart on their own, so they were softened in a simple mint syrup (equal parts water and sugar boiled for 5 minutes, the steeped with mint leaves as it cools.  


Chocolate 'soil'


The chocolate soil comes from the inspirational Eat Foo.  If we’re adding ice cream to the plate it had to be grounded, so it doesn’t just slide all over.  Besides, it adds a great texture, and made for a nice salty accompiament to the pink peppercorn ice cream.   

Grapefruit caviar


The grapefruit caviar came from an online magazine that Y turned me on to, Apicius.  In short peal a grapefruit gently and slowly seperate the individual citrus cell, stored in some more mint syrup.  Side note: don’t try to freeze this, it gets weird. 

Blood orange meringue


The meringue was just your standard egg whites and sugar, but with some blood orange zest added at the end. 



And than blasted with my new (“for professional use only!” kitchen torch.  Holy crap is that a fun toy to play with 

Pink peppercorn ice-cream


The Pink peppercorn ice cream came from a Cannelle et vanilla macaron idea, but apparently has been around for awhile already.  The thought was that it would go well with citrus flavors, while adding another dimension.  I’ll say this about it, it’s certainly interesting as a component, but I don’t think I’ll fill a cone with it this summer.  

orange powder


The orange powder comes from The French Laundry Cookbook.  Zest oranges, blanche in some hot water, then dry in the microwave before pulsing in a clean coffee grinder.  

orange tuile


The tuile is your standard powdered sugar, eggwhite and cake flour tuile, but with some orange juice and orange extract added.  Just for color I cheated and threw in some powdered food coloring for good measure.  

For a better idea of what a genuine Orange Tian is supposed to be, go check out the fantastic intepretations at  


Thanks once again to our host and all the mad scientist bakers out there.  Let’s see what April brings now.

10 Responses to “Orange Tian (sort of) – March DB Challenge”

  1. Ruth H. said

    Wow. Just wow. You came up with some amazing ideas, and clearly worked very hard on your pseudo-tian! The results are amazing to look at, and probably even better to eat! I want to come to you for a test-tasting party!!

  2. Aparna said

    I’m speechless! Love your deconstruction and re-intepretation of this challenge.

  3. osakaben41 said

    Thanks guys. Was worried that this had no relation to what a real Tian is supposed to be and whether or not this was straying a tad far from the general idea of the DBs. Had a blast working on this one though.

  4. Y said

    Didn’t know you could make dulce leche in the microwave 🙂 I love that rectangle of sable with the caramel, citrus segments and toasted meringue on top. Like a light and refreshing take on a citrus tart!

  5. Debora said

    Beautiful variations! I envy the creativity it takes to modify the challenge while keeping the essence. I always stick to the classic version!

    Thank you so much for linking my blog, I feel so honored ^^

    See you around for the next challenge! 😀


    • Debora said

      By the way, I absolutely love love love the grapefruit caviar ❤

      • osakaben41 said

        Thanks Debora. Found it in a magazine and it’s actually really easy to do. The mint poaching syrup may have taken too much acid out of it, so if you try it out, you could just keep it steeped in plain grapefruit juice instead. Love the picture of your Tian by the way. So clean.

  6. Love your deconstructed approach and creativity.

  7. Jeannie said

    I would love to play with that new toy of yours too:D Lovely narrations there with the pictures.

  8. […] how giddy I was when my beans came in the mail.  I’ll say this though, that much like the pink peppercorn ice cream, it would work great as a component in a more involved creation, than something that I’d […]

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