Cooking Classes


The Daring Bakers Challenge - Orange Tian

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 never heard of Orange Tian until this challenge.  It has made my brain do a little work so that I can make an interesting variation.  The definition of a tian is a layered dish whether savoury or sweet.  So really, even lasagna could be considered a tian.

Aren't the Clementines an amazing colour!  They were a bit fussy to work with but I prefer the flavour over oranges.  Overall, this whole dessert is a bit fussy for my usual baking.  It is definitely a project.  The best idea would be to use your homemade marmalade (assuming you do that every year) so one big step is done in advance.  I also felt that the filling was way too soft.  I would suggest freezing it before unmolding and slicing.

I am starting with the top as the first layer and work in a sort of ‘upside down cake’ method but you could make it from the bottom up.  I think this is an entirely personal choice and a matter of the ingredients used and pans available.

My sablé base uses finely ground pecans.  I think this goes well with the buttery base of the sablé.  Brushed over the sablé is a homemade marmalade.  The next layer is the cream filling flavoured with Clementine zest.  And then on top, segmented Clementines marinated in the caramel mixture are arranged.  And finally it is served with more of that rich buttery Clementine pecan caramel.

Note: There are quite a few steps to making this dessert; however a lot of them can be made in advance. The orange marmalade can be made several days or even weeks ahead of time. The caramel sauce can be made several days in advance and orange segments preparation should be made the day before you make the dessert.

Pecan Sablé            adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Place in a large bowl:
½ lb cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 c all purpose flour
½ c finely chopped pecan
Using a pastry blender cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Beat together until well blended:
3 large egg yolks
½ c white sugar
¼ c powdered sugar
1/8 t salt
1 ½ t vanilla
1 T finely grated Clementine zest

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, and then knead to form a smooth dough.  Divide the dough in half.  Place each half between two layers of waxed or parchment paper.  Roll out between these sheets of paper to ¼ - ½ inch thickness.  Be sure to check the underside of the dough and smooth out any creases.

With the paper still in place, layer these on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Working with one sheet at a time, remove from the freezer and gently peel away one layer of paper.  Replace this with a new sheet of parchment paper.  Then with the pastry on a flat surface, peel away the second piece of paper.  Cut to desired size and place on the prepared cookie sheet.  Cook on a greased cookie sheet until lightly coloured but not browned.  Let the pastry cool on the sheet before removing.

Alternate baking method:
If you are making one larger tian, then you may wish to use a spring form pan as the mold.  Rather than rolling the pastry and cutting it, you could press it into the parchment line spring form pan.  Let it cool completely before attempting to remove.  Then run a knife around the edge of the pastry before opening the spring form pan.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Additional Notes:
This dough can be made and kept in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days or 3 weeks in the freezer before baking.  After baking, the pastry can be successfully frozen for 3 weeks.  I used 1/3 of this dough for a 6 ½ “ spring form mold.  Leftover dough can be made into cookies.

For the Marmalade:             I like David Lebovitz’ tutorial on making marmalade found here.  And see my recipe and tutorial here.

For the Clementine Segments:
For this step you will need 4 Clementines.
Cut the Clementines into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice.

For the Caramel:
granulated sugar 1 cup
1 ½ c Clementine juice

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.  Be very careful not to burn the sugar.  It will melt into a liquid and then caramelize.  When it has reached the degree of caramelization that you like, add the Clementine juice.

At this point it will bubble and foam, but continue to heat until the sugar has once again melted.  Pour some of this mixture over the Clementine segments.  Reserve the rest for garnishing the dessert.

For the Filling:   adapted from           Epicurious  

    * 2 teaspoons water
    * 1/4 teaspoon plain unflavored gelatin
    * 3 large egg yolks
    * 1/4 cup sugar
    * 4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
    * 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Clementine peel
    * 1 cup whole milk
    * 1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Place 2 teaspoons water in small cup. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, 10 to 12 minutes.

Whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Bring milk to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk hot milk into yolk mixture. Return to same saucepan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved and custard is smooth.

Transfer custard to another medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes (custard will be very thick).

Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Whisk custard until smooth. Fold whipped cream into custard in 3 additions. Transfer filling to crust. Chill tart until filling sets, at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours.

Assembling the Dessert:
1.  Drain the Clementine segments.

2.  Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

3.  Arrange the Clementine segments at the bottom of a 6” spring form pan. Make sure the segments all touch each other 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.  To make it easier to remove the dessert from the pan, I line the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap.  Just wrap the base of the pan before clipping in the side ring.

4.  Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom the pan, add a layer of the custard and whipped cream filling.  Gently spread it so that it makes an even, compact layer.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a thin even layer of orange marmalade on the circle of sablé.

Carefully place the circle of sablé over the whipped cream (the side of sablé covered in marmalade should be the side touching the filling). Gently press on the sablé to make sure the dessert is compact.

Chill at least one hour or up to 8 hours.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the pan to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold.  Remove the outer ring of the spring form pan.  Place the serving dish upside down over the dessert and flip the dessert onto the plate.  Remove the bottom of the spring form pan.


  1. I love the way you make a recipe into a story... really fun! I never knew a tian could be a dessert... I alway thought of them with zucchini and tomatoes....who knew? This is a great recipe but I can see that it takes a lot of you think it would be a good Easter dish? Pecan sable sounds wonderful paired with clementines... I love their flavor.

  2. Well, this is entirely too much work for me!

  3. Your Tian looks fantastic!! I like that round pan you used. It looks so shiny and new. I didn't participate again this month :(. You did an awesome job, Sarah!

  4. mmm... clementine pecan caramel. Great Job!

  5. Just brilliant! Your Tian look super and like you, I had never heard of a Tian before...

  6. Great work as usual... Adding the pecan to the pate sablee is an interesting twist.

    Mine were frozen as I took them to a friends. I left them to defrost for 30 minutes before unmolding and eating and the texture was great.

  7. That is a labour of love! Sounds and looks fantastic! have never heard of Orange Tian. Something new all the time in the blog world!

  8. Deana - this would be a perfect Easter dish. I would personally make it a day or two in advance and freeze it. Then defrost in the fridge for several hours.

    Pam - I'm with you! It was a ton of work.

    Memoria - how observant you are! It is a shiny new pan - a gift from my neighbour Miss Ersie in TN. She gave me three, of one is heart shaped. She had never used them and didn't have a clue! So she regifted them.

    Baking Addict & Dharm - thanks for stopping by!

    Sarah - freezing is the way to go.

    Rita - yes, you can learn something every day!

  9. It is beautiful, but oh, so much work! I hate it when the fillings are too soft. I'll need to try Clementines the next time I make an orange something! You've been talking about them a lot of late, and I'm interested!

  10. Wow this is delicious but my baking skill will fail me for sure :(

  11. Marjie and 3 hungry tummies - you are absolutely right! It was way more work than I would normally do. Perhaps I would take it for a potluck where I wouldn't have to make the entire meal.

  12. This looks so good! I really enjoyed this month's DB challenge. Definitely a perfect dessert for spring! =)

  13. Wow! That looks super yummy!


  14. So, it looks superb.... was it worth all of the work?

  15. Canadian Foodie - I have to say no, it was not worth all the work.

  16. Sara, I must try this it looks absolutely delectable! You are right the clementines look fantastic and can think of several other things to use them in.


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