Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge #5: 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 a tian before, but it looked light and delicious, so I was keen to give it a try. The recipe required a few different components: Pâte sablée pastry circles, orange marmalade, stabilized whipped cream (I flavored mine with Grand Marnier) and orange segments for the top, all finished off with a drizzle of orange caramel sauce. To make it easy for myself (and to make a smaller portion) I used leftover pâte sablée, so I just had to make the other components. However I also had some lemon cream leftover from this tart, so I wanted to make a version with that as well, simply because it's the most delicious lemon cream ever. So I ended up making lemon and orange marmalades, one for each.
This dessert is quite easy to do, and is pretty as a picture, but a bit messy to eat. Even though the cream stands up to the weight of the fruit quite well, it's difficult to cut with a spoon without squishing all the cream outwards.

The lemon cream was not really intended for this use, as you can see from the picture below - but it does taste really good.

And finally, the cook got to enjoy this bite-size tian sandwich, made with pastry scraps!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pierre Hermé's extraordinary lemon tart

Spring is finally here! Flowers are blooming and temperatures are climbing - and not a moment too soon! So when I was wondering what dessert to take to a party this weekend, I knew I had to make something light, cool and refreshing, to herald the warmer weather ahead.
Pierre Hermé, pastry chef par excellence, has invented a unique lemon cream that seems to have wowed all the pastry lovers in the blogosphere. The filling is made using the same ingredients - eggs, butter, lemon juice and zest, sugar - as you would find in lemon curd, the custard filling normally used in lemon tarts. Only, in his version, the butter is not melted into the lemon custard. Instead, you cool the custard for ten minutes and then emulsify the butter, by adding it bit by bit while blending the mixture at high speed. The result: a light, silky cream, which dissolves into your mouth with a burst of citrusy flavor. It doesn't have the vivid yellow color of traditional lemon curd, but the texture is far superior. I think this technique would work well with any citrus fruit, and I am also wondering how a mango version would turn out.

Recipe: Pierre Hermé's Lemon Cream Tart
Dorie Greenspan's tips for how to get it right

I used a pâte sucrée made with a bit of ground almonds added to the flour for the tart shell. The only changes I made to the filling were: I didn't use a thermometer (I don't have one) and I used only one stick of butter. The original amount called for seemed like the product would be too rich for me. I blended the mixture a bit longer to compensate! Everyone seemed to like it, so I plan to stick with the lesser quantity.