Daring Bakers Challenge : Orange Tian


(Orange ‘Tian’ – hazelnut sable, lemon curd, apple mint)

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.

You know what they say : sometimes the simplest things are the best, and it doesn’t get any simpler than oranges, whipped cream and pastry. On paper, this sounds like an unexciting, rather basic dessert. Having now tasted my assembled version of the orange tian, I can certainly see its appeal. The burst of flavour from the juicy orange segments draped in slightly bitter orange caramel, offset the sweet richness of the whipped cream (folded through with homemade marmalade) and pastry. The whole is understated, but well balanced. It’s the kind of tricky, subtle balance that many of us bakers strive to achieve but don’t always succeed in accomplishing. It’s like knowing how many swear words to insert into Al Swearengen’s dialogue without making him sound too ridiculous. Or how many ruffles you can fit onto a dress before you get panned on Go Fug Yourself.


I must admit, I like adding ruffles to my desserts. I ruffled this dessert up with the addition of lemon curd and little white-green apple mint leaves, which have a flavour I would liken to minty olives (predominantly mint, with a finish that is grassy and very much like extra virgin olive oil). I also ruffled the end result with some green tea froth (as pictured below), but decided in the end that it was one ruffle too many.

My favourite components from the recipe provided were the homemade marmalade and the whipped cream. The whipped cream was stabilised with gelatine and flavoured with a small amount of the marmalade. I altered the recipe slightly to include some yogurt and the end result was quite light and refreshing. The marmalade, my first attempt at making one, was very easy to put together and since I didn’t use much of it in my plated dish, I now have a nice small container of marmalade to use in other things. I’m already considering my breakfast tomorrow, and thinking of a breakfast-inspired dessert.

All in all, an enjoyable little treat (perfect for the current weather too!), with many thanks to Jennifer. If you’d like any of the recipes, you can get them from her blog.


(..with green tea)

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For the love of friends


(Sticky ginger, golden syrup and yogurt cake)

This post had a beginning, but I decided to truncate it and concentrate on my main objective instead, which is to write this in appreciation of friends who have been supportive and helpful of late. You all know you who are, and since I’m not very good at expressing myself in person, I have decided to say it with another thing that I love : yogurt.


(Yogurt lavender cake)

Full fat, European-style cow’s milk yogurt, which I tend to always keep a carton of in my fridge. If ever I needed to put forward a case for the planet-threatening, methane-belching cow, bovine yogurt would form one of my principle arguments. Granted, far more environmentally friendly four-footed creatures have graced this planet and yielded us many pleasures in a 125ml easy-peel tub. Sheep’s milk yogurt for example, which is very flavoursome and can also be used in all these instances. I guess I just have a soft spot for something I grew up eating so regularly – who, as a kid, didn’t lick the smear of yogurt off the yogurt tub lid?

As B is intolerant of most dairy products except yogurt, I often use it as a substitute for cream, buttermilk or sour cream in certain recipes. Along with a dash of rice vinegar, yogurt is my not-so-secret-ingredient in homemade potato salad and coleslaw. For baking, I sometimes have to adjust quantities, or alter the baking time slightly when substituting with yogurt. I rarely have a problem with the end result and in fact take pleasure in knowing that I’ve actually made my cake marginally healthier.


(Sour cherry and yogurt cheesecake with green tea)

The sticky ginger cake recipe (originally with sour cream) comes from Belinda Jeffery’s book. It is one of the most fantastically moist, heart-warming cakes your fork will ever meet. Belinda says it is the cake you must make, out of the entire book, and I couldn’t agree more.

The yogurt lavender cake is based on a recipe from this book and the cheesecake is from this book, which I aim to write more about soon as it is one of my current favourites. Below is the recipe for the green tea cookies which aren’t actually part of the original cheesecake recipe, but which also feature in the book and are the best green tea cookies I’ve tasted to date.

Green Tea Sable Cookies :
(makes about 50; recipe from Okashi by Keiko Ishida)

240g pastry flour (chilled)
15g green tea powder (matcha powder)
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
130g icing sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks

Sift flour and green tea powder twice. Set aside.

Beat butter, icing sugar and salt until soft and creamy. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add flour and green tea powder mixture and fold in with a spatula. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Place both portions in two large pieces of parchment paper. Shape into logs about 3.5cm in diameter. Wrap logs with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm. If not using immediately, wrap with cling film and freeze. Cookie dough can be kept for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 150’C. Cut logs into 7mm thick rounds. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove and leave to cool on wire rack before serving. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

(Optional presentation : Prior to baking the cookies, you can dip the edges of each sliced cookie in granulated sugar. Also if you wish, you can brush a little egg white over each cookie and scatter with a few green tea leaves on top.)

[Note : To use as a garnish for the yogurt cheesecake above, I crumbled the sable dough on a tray before baking].

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Green tea macarons


(Green tea/matcha macarons)

To my neighbour who snores every night, enabling me to finally understand the allusion to chainsaws.


To M who sent me a text message while dining in what is meant to be the best unagi restaurant in Tokyo. (Meanwhile, I was having a very pedestrian pasta dinner at home).

To the work-friend who readily listens when I have woes to air.

To Julia, and her obsession with macarons, begetting a how-to guide.

To Pierre Hermes, whose basic macaron recipe I use all the time.


And to all those people who have been reading and leaving comments even though I haven’t had much time to return the favour of late :

Thank you.

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