For the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off, the technical challenge was a Savarin (in a really fun mould, not just a plan smooth round tin) covered in Chantilly cream and carefully arranged fresh fruit.
It seems like the Bake Off is really starting to run out of ideas, because this recipe is actually almost exactly the same as the recipe for the Rum Babas I made back in August 2012 for Series 2 of GBBO. Both the babas and this savarin consist of a yeast-leaven dough, are filled with a liquor/liqueur and are covered in cream and fruit, often paired with a caramel.
I always knew there would be a point that the Bake Off would have to start repeating itself a bit, and here we are. Except this one you get to make in a really, really pretty shape. I have so, so many baking tins – I have a large plan Savarin mould, mini Savarin moulds (baba tins), I have a traditional bundt tin mould but I still decided I absolutely needed the beautiful fleur de lis style Nordicware bundt tin used on the bake off which I purchased for £28. Haha whoops. But it does come with a lifetime guarantee! (Note, since the Bake Off aired on Wednesday night and I bought mine, the price has gone up by another couple of pounds. Sneaky.)
One of the longest recipes in the world… but actually it’s not complex. You make a cake, and it just so happens that you prove it twice first. And you make a caramel, which is separate, and not time dependent on other elements of the cake. Whipped cream you make at the end and pipe, easy, before serving. The chocolate disc was relatively technical because it requires you to be able to write beautifully, and melted chocolate is slightly harder to control than icing as it’s more liquid, but again, it’s not time critical as you can just make it and they’ll sit there ready for you to decorate the cake with whenever.
So here’s my admission: I actually made 2 fully decorated Savarins this weekend. Not just one. The first one, I followed the recipe pretty well exactly, but the second one I took matters more into my own hands as the way the recipe has you ‘apply’ the syrup doesn’t work brilliantly. It sounds like a lot of effort but as I had a spare chocolate disc, spare cut fruit, spare caramel and leftover cream, all I had to do to make a separate cake was plonk some ingredients in my Kitchen Aid, leave the mixture to prove twice and bake. Easy peasy.
- 350g/12oz plain flour
- 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
- 10g/¼oz instant yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp milk
- 6 free-range eggs
- 180g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed, plus extra for greasing
- 1 large orange, finely grated zest and segmented fruit
- 1 large unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest only
- 300g/10½oz caster sugar
- 1 large lemon, juice only
- 100ml/3½fl oz orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier
- For the chocolate disc
- 100g/3½oz plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
- 50g/1¾oz white chocolate, melted
- For the caramel chards
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 300ml/10fl oz double cream
- 15g/½oz icing sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla paste
- sliced mixed fruit (such as orange, mango, kiwi, strawberries)
- pomegranate seeds, blueberries or raspberries
- Stir together the flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Mix the salt, milk and eggs together in a jug then pour into the flour mixture and beat well using a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes to make a thick, sticky batter.
- Gradually add the butter, beating until the mixture is smooth, elastic and shiny. Finally fold in the orange and lemon zest. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour.
- For the syrup, tip the sugar into a pan, add the lemon juice and 150ml/5fl oz water and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, stir in the orange liqueur and leave to cool.
- For the chocolate disc, temper the plain chocolate by melting three-quarters (75g/2½oz) of the chocolate over a pan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 50C. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining chocolate and stir until it’s cooled to 31C.
- Spoon into a piping bag made out of baking parchment and pipe a 5cm/2in oval disc onto a sheet of baking paper or acetate and leave to set. Spoon the melted white chocolate into another piping bag and pipe the word ‘Savarin’ onto the plain chocolate disc.
- For the caramel shards, line a baking tray with silicone or baking parchment. Add the sugar to a pan with 4 tablespoons water and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. When all the sugar is dissolved, bring the syrup to a boil without stirring until it reaches 170C on a sugar thermometer (CAUTION: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully). Immediately pour out onto the lined tray and leave to harden. Crack with a spoon or cut into shards using a knife.
- Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter. When the batter has risen, spoon it into the tin. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it reaches three-quarters of the way up the tin.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
- remove the cling film and bake for 20–25 minutes or until the savarin is risen and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack to cool for 5–10 minutes.
- When cool enough to handle, remove the savarin from the tin and pour half of the syrup into the tin. Gently place the savarin back into the tin to soak up the syrup and cool completely. Pour the remaining syrup into a roasting tin, then place the savarin into the syrup and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate.
- Meanwhile, for the Chantilly cream, whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Spoon one-third of the Chantilly cream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Using a sharp knife, segment the zested orange. Carefully slice off the top and bottom of the orange. Using even downward strokes, slice the skin away from the flesh and discard. Remove any remaining white pith.
- Pipe the Chantilly cream around the top of the savarin and arrange the orange slices over the cream. Fill the savarin with the remaining Chantilly cream and decorate with sliced fruit. Top with the chocolate disc and caramel shards.
- This recipe has you pouring half the syrup back into the tin, putting the cake back (which is tricky as it felt like it might rip when turning upside down) and then turning rightside up and leaving for just 5-10 minutes in the other half of syrup. This didn't work brilliantly, and the first cake I made was still pretty dry. Like really quite dry. But the SECOND cake I made (a day later), I left it in the syrup overnight. And it soaked it all up. Apparently that was much better, though I didn't get a piece in time to check myself!
I thought this cake was nice, and inspired me to better decorate my cakes in future, because it’s really not that hard when you can make the separate decorative elements in a calm controlled way and just save them for when you need them. But it wasn’t my ideal cake – I thought it was just a bit bready. But like I said, I didn’t get a chance to have a slice of my improved second version, so maybe a properly soaked-in-syrup type would have solved that issue.
One of the trickiest elements of this cake was actually peeling the orange segments. That recipe seems to suggest how, but realistically I think the key is to leave the orange peel on, then you can use the knife to take off the peel and the casings in one go. It was a nightmare trying to cut off the casings from pre-peeled pieces of orange. (Loving the alliteration though).
The first cake (on the left) is clearly lighter, less soaked in the syrup. The cake on the right is the one I left in the syrup overnight that I brought to work, and it was definitely more saturated although decorated slightly messier.