I’m very behind in my attempts to bake the technical challenges from the Great British Bake Off. It finished last week and I’m still stuck in Tudor week. I’ve decided not to attempt the jumbles. I know it would take me hours of shouting and swearing to get my biscuit dough into knots, and knots that tasted of throat sweets at that. No thanks.
On to the savarin then. I have tried to make a savarin before, a chocolate and almond liqueur one. It was a disaster. Worse even than my Battenberg. I had to throw it into the bin. Even the birds wouldn’t touch it. I wasn’t feeling very confident about making another, but I thought I should at least give it a try.
I used the recipe from the Great British Bake Off website , although it’s also available at BBC Food. Both recipes are accompanied by pictures of beautiful savarins. They’re filled with cream and elegantly decorated with fresh fruit and caramel shards. The Bake Off version even has a little chocolate disc with the word “savarin” on it, just in case there’s any confusion. I was a bit pressed for time, and I wasn’t really in the mood for fancy piping and caramel, so I made mine plain and served it with cream. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make a chocolate disc that said “savarin” either.
It’s a poor cousin to the beautiful Bake Off creations, I know, but it all came out of the tin in one piece, it was cooked and it tasted beautiful. Who needs caramel shards and a chocolate label?
The first step in the recipe was to put plain flour, sugar, instant yeast and salt into a bowl, and then mix in eggs and milk. I’d decided to use dried active yeast rather than instant so I had to activate it first which I did by mixing my yeast with warm milk and sugar (taken from the recipe amounts). There were two reasons for my yeast choice. First, I’ve had better results in making enriched dough when I’ve used dried yeast and, second, the recipe called for 10g. I only had 7g sachets of instant yeast and I didn’t want to have to use two. I left my yeast, milk and sugar mixture by the radiator for twenty minutes to bubble up and, once I had bubbles, I mixed it in with the flour, sugar and salt and added the rest of the milk and eggs.
The recipe tells you to beat the mixture for five minutes until you get a thick, sticky batter. So here’s a question. Was I supposed to beat with a beater, or a dough hook? Was I making a cake mixture or a dough? A bread, or a cake? I know my previous savarin experience wasn’t great, but I checked that recipe (which came from the Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking) and used the dough hook. My thick, sticky batter looked like this.
The next step was to add butter. As per the recipe, my butter was at room temperature and in cubes. I added them slowly. It took ages. When, at last, I had a mixture that could pass as smooth, elastic and shiny as required by the recipe, I folded in orange and lemon zest, covered the bowl with clingfilm and left it by the radiator to rise.
While my savarin mixture sat by the radiator, I made a syrup from water, caster sugar, lemon juice and lemoncello – (the recipe uses Grand Marnier, but we hadn’t got any). I also did my usual chores, the ironing, catching up on a bit of Home and Away… My savarin was rising for a more than an hour.
When I went back to it, I poured the mixture into a greased ring cake tin, re-covered it and put it back by the radiator. The recipe says that it should stay there for 45 minutes. I had a school pick-up and junior tennis before I could get back to baking. It took a lot longer than 45 minutes.
Back in baking mode, I put the savarin into the oven at 160° fan for 25 minutes (checking after 20). The dough had split at the bottom (Google says that this could be a sign that the mixture was under-proved) , but it was golden brown and sounded cooked when I tapped it.
I left it to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then, with my heart in my mouth (this is where my earlier attempt started to go pear-shaped) I very carefully loosened the sides with a palette knife and turned it out of the tin. It came out in one piece. I did a very small victory dance around the kitchen, poured half of the lemoncello syrup into the cake tin, and put the savarin back in to soak it up. I put the rest of the syrup into a roasting tray and turned the savarin over so that it could soak up the rest of the syrup from the bottom.
As I said, I didn’t fill it with cream, but I did whip up some double cream with icing sugar and vanilla paste, and served the savarin with a generous dollop.
It tasted lovely. I was so pleased. The dough was rich and sweet and had soaked up the syrup really well (although a couple of my tasters thought that there was a bit more syrup at the bottom than the top). I don’t think I’ll ever be an expert in all things enriched-dough, but I am getting better. I’ll definitely try this sort of thing again. I may even make a bit more of an effort in the presentation. Chocolate labels though? I doubt it.