Friday, March 26, 2010

ORANGE TIAN – Daring Baker’s March Challenge


A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would if it could walk up and down in the garden, swinging perfume from every little censer it holds up to the air.
- Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

I so looked forward to winter. Everyone I meet oohs and ahhs over my great good luck of having grown up in Florida, having spent my childhood a mere five minutes walk from the beach, imagining me tanning lazily under the blazing sun. It would have been lucky and quite a happy childhood if I had loved the heat and the beach, swimming pools and surfing. But I didn’t. I waited impatiently through every hot Springtime, every steaming, humid Summer, every boiling Autumn for the kiss of Winter. The temperature would finally drop and that chilly December and January would come hand in hand with brilliant sunshine, a reprieve from both the stifling heat and the flash storms. Sunday mornings I would wake up to the divine smell of oatmeal simmering on the stove and, wrapped up in robe, feet tucked cozily in big fluffy slippers, I would fill a bowl, watch as a pat of butter would melt into a gorgeous puddle of gold, sprinkle on brown sugar, toss on a handful of raisins and I’d be in heaven. Winter meant Hanukkah, the streets lit up with gorgeous, gaily colored holiday lights and garish Christmas displays, yards dripping with sparkling crystal icicles frozen on sprinkler systems left on overnight, dark mornings dawning into brilliant afternoons. After 8 months straight of being stripped down to the bare minimum though never leaving the house without a sweater (always and forever armed against the violence of indoor air conditioning), burning car seats, sizzling sidewalks and the constant threat of hurricanes, it was joy to wake up in the morning faced with graceful, cool days, snuggly warm blankets and a month of Christmas specials on TV followed quickly by my birthday.

Winter also meant citrus fruit. We lived in the land of the Florida orange – and grapefruit and tangerine – the orchards happily lined up along the water’s edge just across the river, a short hop and a skip over the bridge and we were there. Sundays we would pile into the station wagon and head on over to pick our own, filling brown paper grocery bag after brown paper grocery bag with sunshine yellow grapefruits or perfect navels, their “bellybuttons” never failing to make us giggle, or golden juice oranges or, my absolute favorites, tangerines. As soon as we got back home, the bags would be unloaded from the back of the car and lined up along dad’s workbench in the garage, the Winter chill keeping them fresh until the bags emptied, one by one, and it was time to take yet another trip back across the bridge. Sometimes we would swing into one of the many gas stations that lined South Patrick Drive and pull up in front of one of the multitude of ramshackle wooden stalls dropped higgledy-piggledy in those gas station parking lots, stalls filled with locally grown tomatoes and watermelons all summer long and piled high with citrus come winter. We would then grab mesh bags of citrus and lug them over to the car where they too would end up on dad’s workbench.

The Indian River Orange is not to be mentioned in the same breath with ordinary oranges. It is a delicacy by itself, and which Spain need never attempt to rival.
- Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 1890

And eating fruit was never simpler! Although my mom had her share of Florida Citrus Growers pamphlets chock full of gourmet recipes using, well, Florida Citrus, recipes such as Chalet Orange Soufflé, English Muffins L’Orange, Baked Snapper Citrus, Breast of Chicken Tropical and Chicken, Island Style, oranges and grapefruits chez moi were best, and usually eaten as is, pulled off the tree and peeled, each sweet, tangy section popped straight into the mouth. The fanciest we may have gotten would be to place a tiny, glistening and shockingly red maraschino cherry daintily in the center of half a grapefruit which would then be quite simply dusted with sugar, the sections sliced out with our wonderful double-serrated, gently curved grapefruit knife and served as first course. Oranges and tangerines were meant to be grabbed by the handful on the way in through the garage after school and eaten, one, two, three, in front of the TV, fingers sticky, juice dribbling down arms and chins.

Lemons may have been made into pies piled high with meringue, but only at restaurants. Or squeezed onto crab legs, rock shrimp or lobster on one of our family outings to Peg Leg’s or The Lobster Shanty. Slices of fresh tangerine or mandarine orange from a can may very well have been found nestled in colorful jello molds in garish reds, yellows, greens and oranges, sitting patiently alongside mini marshmallows and tiny jewel-like pineapple chunks, or folded delicately into strawberry-tinted whipped topping, but those very-Sixties dishes were never for me. No sir! I was a eat-‘em-fresh kind of girl and I still am. Peel ‘em or slice ‘em but give ‘em to me raw! And though the oranges and clementines now come from Spain, I still wait expectantly for Winter to draw near so I can fill my basket with these beauties and carry them home happily from the market and spend all winter eating them one after the other. Grapefruits still come with that familiar Indian River sticker on the bright yellow, dimpled skin and, armed with my good old Florida grapefruit knife, I still eat them simply halved and dusted with sugar.

Now Jamie, you may say, we can ignore the baking and cooking you’ve done with lemons, the pudding and tart, the cake, the risotto and the chicken, but you have made orange cake and orange dressing for salads. So you do sometimes cook with oranges. Come on, ‘fess up! Well, yes, but this is all something new. And sometimes it is just imposed. Take the Daring Bakers. The dessert chosen for each month’s challenge is always a surprise and this month’s was no different. 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 actually pleasantly surprised. Fresh orange slices drenched in orange syrup and placed lovingly atop a froth of whipped cream, a layer of homemade orange marmalade and all atop a cookie crust. With the fresh oranges calling my name, no problem with whipped cream or tangy, slightly bitter marmalade and, dreaming of the wonderful combination of orange and chocolate making my pâte sablée flavored with a dash of cocoa powder, this Orange Tian turned out a dream! JP declared it not only scrumptious but “restaurant quality”.

An orange grown in Florida usually has a thin and tightly fitting skin, and it is also heavy with juice. Californians say that if you want to eat a Florida orange you have to get into a bathtub first….In Florida, it is said that you can run over a California orange with a ten-ton truck and not even wet the pavement.
- John McPhee in The New Yorker, May 7, 1966

Citrus season, that lovely, graceful Florida season sandwiched somewhere between the last of the summer’s peaches and the best of Florida’s sugar sweet, ruby red u-pick-‘em strawberries, the season of gentle charm and clear skies. A simple town in a simple era, far from the flamboyant, luxurious lifestyle found a day’s drive further down the coast as different as a foreign land, we found our joy in running barefoot and shooting baskets, playing ball in the street and board games indoors. Bundled up in sweaters, meandering through the orange groves, picking the ripe fruit right off the branches or visiting one of the many orchard shops lined up and down the main stretch of road through Old Florida where we were allowed to pick up a box of chocolate-dipped coconut patties along with the sacks of oranges, these were the pleasures, the magic of my childhood. I hold an orange in my hand and caress the smooth skin, breath in the sharp fragrance, the scent of my youth. I press my thumb deep into the skin in one quick movement, trying to avoid the joyous spurt of juice that hits my face and pull off the skin to reveal the beautiful, voluptuous, delectable orange. I bite into that first segment and I’m home again.

I know that the season will soon come to an end and with the last of the oranges piled high in that market stall, as I say good-bye to the last of this season’s citrus I’ll be one season further away from my childhood, the magic slipping out of my fingers so bittersweet.


¼ cup + 3 Tbs (100 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 large juice orange for the orange slices (I used a blood orange)
Cold water to cook the orange slices
1 tsp (5 g) pectin *
granulated sugar: use the equivalent weight of the cooked orange slices

* if you don’t have pectin, simply save seeds from citrus fruit: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and wrap them in muslin or, as I did, a very clean stocking foot, and immerse in the cooking marmalade.

Finely slice the orange (without peeling it!). Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes (this is blanching), discard the water, refill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes. Replace the water one more time and blanch the orange slices a third time. 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 put aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cool enough to handle, finely mince the blanched orange slices either by hand or in a food processor. Weigh the slices and then measure out the same weight of granulated sugar. If you do not have a kitchen scale, simply place the minced orange in a measuring cup and use the same amount of sugar.

Place the minced orange and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the orange juice and the pectin of the small bundle of seeds. Cook gently until the mixture reaches a jam consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring.

Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or place in a clean jelly jar (it makes about a cup of marmalade) and refrigerate until assembling the dessert. I prepared the marmalade a day in advance with the cookie dough.

2 egg yolks, room temperature
6 Tbs + 1 tsp (80 g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla
7 Tbs (100 g) unsalted butter, more or less chilled as it works better for you
1/3 tsp salt
1 ½ cups + 2 Tbs (200 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs cocoa powder

Put the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Rub in the cubed butter until there are no more lumps of butter and the mixture is like sand.

Beat the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar in a separate bowl with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in over the dry ingredients.

Stir vigorously with a fork 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 at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (170°C).

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.
Using a round cookie cutter or your metal ring mold (if you are using ring molds to build the Tian), 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 set and baked. Remove from the oven and gently slide off of the baking sheet to cool on cooling racks.

This can be done the day before assembling the dessert. Simply store the cookies under foil ot in a metal tin.

You will need 6 – 8 oranges, depending on how many desserts you want to make. I made 6 and used a bit extra whipped cream in each individual Tian and found it ideal.
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.

* Slice the two ends off of each orange until you have a flat surface and no white pith covering the fruit. Sit the orange flat on your work surface on one now-flat end. Using a very sharp knife, carefully slice down and around the fruit of the orange just underneath the white. Turn the orange and, following the white pith, continue uncovering the membrane-free fruit. Once you have a totally naked orange, hold the orange firmly in the palm of one hand over a bowl (to catch the juice and the slices,) and carefully slice out each section just inside the membranes.

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ cups + 2 Tbs (400 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice

Place the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and begin warming it.

Once the sugar starts to foam and bubble around the edges, slowly add the orange juice. If the sugar starts to re-solidify, don’t worry, as the juice heats it will re-melt. Stir as needed. As soon as the mixture begins to boil and all of the sugar is melted, remove the syrup from the heat and pour half over the orange segments in the bowl.

Reserve the other half of the syrup to make a caramel to be spooned over the finished Tian before serving.

WHIPPED CREAM (Stabilized)
1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream
3 Tbs hot water
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1 Tbs confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1 Tbs of your Orange Marmalade

Place a glass mixing bowl and clean beaters in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before making the Whipped Cream. The cream should also be very cold.

Place the gelatin with the hot water in a small bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Place over very low heat and, stirring, heat just enough to dissolve all of the gelatin.

Whip the cold cream in the cold bowl with the cold beaters on low to medium speed until thickened and soft peaks start to form. Add the confectioner’s sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until the beaters leave visible trails in the cream. Slowly add the cooled gelatin while continuing to beat. Beat until the cream is whipped light and fluffy.

Fold in the tablespoon of marmalade.

Assemble the Orange Tian:

Make sure you have room in your freezer for a flat baking sheet. Have your 6 or 8 individual ring molds ready. Line the baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper and then cut or rip out small squares of parchment so each Tian is sitting on a separate square. This simply makes it much easier to turn them out onto dessert plates when serving.

Using your ring molds, place each mold on a cookie round and trim excess cookie using a serrated knife. The cookie circle should fit inside a ring.

Spoon the Orange Segments out of the syrup/juice using a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels or a kitchen towel.

Place a ring mold on each square of parchment on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange the Orange Segments carefully (and decoratively if possible) inside the ring molds on the bottom. Make sure the segments touch or overlap, leaving no gaps. Don’t forget that they will end up being the top of the dessert.

Divide the Whipped Cream among the rings, spooning a couple of spoonfuls on top of the Orange Segments but leaving about ¼ inch at the top for the cookie base.

Spread about a tablespoon of the Orange Marmalade on each cookie circle and then carefully, marmalade side down towards the Whipped Cream, fit the cookie round inside the ring mold on top of the Whipped Cream.

Place the tray of Tians in the freezer to set for 10 minutes. If not eating them right away, remove them from the freezer and keep them in the refrigerator.

To serve:
Have one dessert plate ready for each Tian.

Place the leftover syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to gently simmer until it turns a deeper golden color and thickens a bit.

Remove the Tian from the refrigerator and slide a wide spatula under the individual square of parchment paper under the first Tian. Place a dessert plate over the Tian (cookie side) and carefully flip the whole thing so the cookie is now down on the upturned plate. Pull off the parchment square. Slide a sharp knife down inside along and around the Tian along the side of the ring to loosen. Gently lift off the ring. If you need to, carefully stick the sharp knife cleanly straight down through the center of the Tian to press the cookie down onto the plate as you lift off the ring.

Spoon Caramel over the Tian and decorate with grated chocolate or chocolate curls in the center on top of the Tian.


Coconut Raita said...

This looks fantastic! Is the marmalade suitable for eating with toast or is it a different texture? My husband loves marmelade and it would be good to surprise him with a small jar!

Jamie said...

@Coconut Raita - thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, this is real marmalade. I was simply sad that I couldn't find bitter enough oranges to make real bitter orange marmalade but this is as real as it gets. And it was so easy (I'd never made jam before) and is perfect because it makes just one jelly jar full.

Deeba PAB said...

I'm gonna have to colour you orange and carry you home...teehee sistah! tghese are gorgeous little desserts! Love them. Yes JP is right; they are restaurant quality and were such a pleasure to make & serve. Yours are gorgeous!!
(Are these 'those' dessert rings at work?)

Jamie said...

@Deeba - ha! These are a mix of both yours and mine! I forgot to slip in a mention but I will be making another dessert soon using rings and I'll weave in a story just about the rings! Hugs, sistah!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! Your tian look so pretty and delicious! I've never had Florida oranges, but I sure very much enjoy Florisa grapefruits...



Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

They look lovely Jamie and I love that you made chocolate pâte sablée - gorgeous! I would like to experiment further with this dish and that was definitely one of my thoughts - chocolat and orange just go so well together!

Aparna said...

Looks gorgeous, Jamie. I'm so envious of your childhood. All those oranges! :)

shaz said...

Gorgeous, no wonder they're restaurant quality! And where do you get your supply of retro ads? Very cute! Well done on the great challenge Jamie.

ABowlOfMush said...

Stunning recipe, looks amazing!

This was a lovely post :)

Mary said...

Your tian is beautiful, but I loved the story that went along with it even more! I had to put down my morning grapefruit to read it:)
I used bitter oranges from Florida to make my marmalade, and I was surprised, as I usually get Sevilles from Spain. The marmalade was fantastic though, but I didn't have your restraint and made 14 jars!

Jamie said...

@Mary - 14 jars!!! LOL that made me laugh out loud but yay for you! And thanks for the compliment about my story! And I wish I had a couple of those jars - I'll bet they are fabulous!

Katy ~ said...

Your tian is splendid! Very well done indeed.

And from now on I'm cutting orange sections the way YOU do. You wouldn't believe the mess I made doing it the way I thought it should be done, grins.

Janet Rudolph said...

How lovely, and I really enjoyed the orange crate labels.

Gabi said...

Gorgeous Tian and beautiful post as always!

Jenn said...

That looks really lovely. I don't think I've made anything with oranges yet. I just a bunch from a friend, too. But I always end up eating them before I can use them for something. :)

Poires au Chocolat said...

Looks really yummy! I love the chocolate sablee and the curls on top.

Thanks for your lovely comment and yes, it did post!

ap269 said...

Gorgeous tian. I love the chocolate in the dough - it looks very yummy!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Beautiful job. This was a very involved challenge, but you excelled at it.
I love all your little pictures too, especially the one of the girl holding the oranges in her skirt. So cute.
Have a fab weekend.
*kisses* HH

elra said...

Love how intense the yellow orange look on your tian Jaime. You did well as always.

Chocolate Shavings said...

I'm so glad you liked my challenge and your results look just beautiful!

tasteofbeirut said...

This dessert looks really like it came out of Ducasse kitchen!
Lucky to live in Florida with all that citrus around! Wow!
I would be eating nothing else!

Mary said...

Your tians are really lovely, but I must tell you I lost myself if your tale of memories of citrus as a child. Your pen is gifted, Jamie. We who get to read you are fortunate indeed.

LittleRed said...

I love the individual servings, and the chocolate and orange combination sounds yummy:) We just missed the season for getting Seville oranges here......I noticed them in the stores shortly before the challenge was posted. I was really pleased with the way the marmalade turned out just with regular navel oranges anyway. Beautiful challenge!

Marcellina said...

Your story of your childhood had me tasting the citrus and experiencing smells and sounds. Your tian is great,too!

zorra said...

I love your childhood memories! Thank you for sharing. And your tian is perfect! Well done.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's oh so elegant Jamie but of course it would be if its yours! I'm so sad I had to miss out on this month's but I think I'm still jetlagged. Lovely story about growing up in Florida too! :D

Tangled Noodle said...

This is so lovely - chocolate and oranges are so fantastic together. I am absolutely determined to make the marmalade!

Happy Cook said...

Looks beautiful and you have done the orange slices perfect.

Kathleen said...

Beautiful job on the challenge! Great blog btw!

Heather Davis said...

I so love the fresh oranges and grapefruits that use to grow in my Grandmother's garden in Florida. Thanks for reminding me of how amazing they were! I've never really tasted grapefruits anywhere else that were quite the same. These desserts look beautiful.

theUngourmet said...

I love citrus season! I'm not a big fan of winter but fresh grapefruit, lemons and oranges does make it much more bearable! Grapefruit is my very favorite to eat alone.

Your Orange Tian is beautiful!

pragmaticattic said...

Wonderful! I love how you used chocolate!

MeetaK said...

gorgeous gorgeous dessert! love the use of the chocolate in the pate sablee! i think it's what we were missing too. when we lived in florida - we too had so many orange trees growing in our backyard that my friends and me would simply sit on a branch and pig put on oranges till we were sick. awesome read!

shellyfish said...

Looks beautiful, Jamie! Making marmalade rocks for sure.
I grew up with ice & snow all winter (we are opposites) so when I moved to the sunny desert & had lemons, grapefruit & oranges growing in my yard I was thrilled - also loved the heat!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Ah my daring bakers tians bit the dust this week... I must confess I was thrown by dithering what to put them in, I didn't want to make one big one but didn't have anything suitable to pile them into.

Nevermind, yours look delicious and it's wonderful to see all those step by step pictures as there were some stages to this recipe that I couldn't picture in my head when I read the instructions.

Amanda said...

Wow. You were so lucky to grow up in citrus country. I live in Washington and although we get fresh apples, I would love to taste a tangerine that is freshly-picked.

Julia @Mélanger said...

Jamie, I almost felt like I could have written the start of your post myself. As I type this, I am eagerly looking forward to the winter that is approaching. The cooler days, the warmer food, the snugglier clothes....the heat reprieve! Many people think I'm odd, living in sub-tropical Brisbane, and only liking one thing about summer. Stone fruit! :) Your story put a smile on my face!

Junglefrog said...

I am really an all season girl... Love ALL the seasons although maybe not all the time.. :))
Your orange tian is simply perfect and makes me want to go and get a piece right now..

Lisa Michelle said...

Oh, Jamie. your tian is stunning! I love the chocolate crust and the chocolate shavings (I hope that's what they are! lol) on top really make it that much more special.

I loved your description of Florida weather and the imagery. My family has a place in Fla for vacays and naturally it is/was a Winter vacay retreat. I still think Winter in Fla is too warm! Give me minus 5 and lots of snow, plus..I love Fall and the color/smell of the leaves - I'd miss it terribly :)

Michelle said...

Such a gorgeous dessert! Love almost anything with orange in it!

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, your writing is as voluptuous and luscious as your food. Yum yum yum.


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