It's often said that we should aim to learn something new each day. Be it a fact, a new word, or hone a skill. Whatever it is, it's so rewarding to put those little grey cells to work to then be able to build on that another day. Just the other day I made my first attempt at spinning sugar. Initially the spiral shapes were nowhere near successful but eventually, after a little perseverance, the technique, although not polished, was refined. Ok, it's not earth shattering and certainly won't solve any of the problems which face the modern world, but it was a little triumph in the world of Angela!
GBBO and The Bloggers' Bake Along hosted by Jenny over at Mummy Mishaps has given me the excuse and encouragement to try new baking techniques and different flavour combinations, from building my first gingerbread house, making Danish Pastries, attempting daquiose for our first Marjolaine, and even making my first video for these sweet Yorkshire Puddings.
This week's semi-final episode was no different. In fact all three of the bakes this week would have seen me challenged and learning something new in some shape or form. The signature bake was to produce 24 savoury palmiers, the technical bake saw the remaining four bakers make a Savarin, and the showstopper challenged them to make 36 small and dainty fondant fancies. I must admit that all three of the bakes in this week's episode, patisserie week, enticed me from the puff pastry of the palmiers, the deliciousness of the savarin to the potential prettiness of the fondant fancies. But realising that we have a savarin tin somewhere in the Only Crumbs Remain kitchen we chose to use it for its correct purpose, rather than making bundt cakes with it!
Now, Paul's savarin recipe looked amazing having been flavoured with an orange syrup and topped with colourful berries and Chantilly cream, but wanting to change it up a bit I opted to go with a slightly different flavour combination and decoration style. Having tried lemon and thyme together in a sweet bake for botanical week, with a lemon meringue pie with thyme pastry, we (or rather I) decided to try the same flavour combination in this savarin cake.
The cake smelt amazing as it emerged from the oven, the savoury notes of the thyme being evident though not overpowering. The thyme was also used in a homemade lemon and thyme curd which I made to drizzle over the top of the finished savarin. Let's face it, if you fancy trying this curd it'll have to be homemade as it's very unlikely that you'll find it on the shelf at your local supermarket! The wonderful sharpness of the lemon, which we all know and love, was still present but the delicious notes of the fresh thyme was quietly evident making a beautifully change to the usual curd.
Although the sugar shards looked great on the bakes in the GBBO tent, I chose to push myself a little further by attempting a technique new to me and spun some sugar into spiral shapes. After reading Desserts by James Martin about spinning sugar, covering the floor with reams of newspaper, closing the kitchen door whilst our feline friend slept on the sofa, and putting my concentration head on I was ready to give it a whirl.
I must admit that it took me a while to collect enough spirals of spun sugar to decorate our savarin cake, and some perseverance was required after almost calling it a day when I seemed to have stalled at collecting just two. But then something clicked and I was on a roll making spirals relatively easily. Happily these were made without too much mess to the kitchen surfaces and no burns being made to my hands and arms!
So what did I learn when attempting to make spun sugar spirals?
- Cover the floor with newspaper,
- Shut all animals, children and babies, and other vulnerable people out of the room, (remember melting sugar is hot and can easily cause burns),
- The viscosity of the melted sugar is relevant when spinning sugar, whether it's to be spun into spirals or even shaped into nests, cages or pulled. You're aiming for it to be the thickness of golden syrup,
- When the sugar cools down too much it can be reheated to allow you to spin some more,
- Any shapes which are rejected can be put back into the pan to be reheated if you want,
- Sadly, the sugar work doesn't last long depending upon the humidity levels. It soon begins to return to caramel, therefore the shapes need to be made just before serving.
After making my sugar spirals and realising that they don't last long (perhaps an hour, though I wasn't timing it) I googled the subject and came across these forums here, here, and here where I learnt:
- Sugar and isomalt are different things and therefore react differently when being heated and spun,
- consider using some corn syrup or liquid glucose in the melted sugar to aid with the stretch and bendiness of the sugar,
- place an unwrapped hard boiled sweet onto plate for a few hours (or over night). If it starts to go sticky fairly quickly your spun sugar will therefore not last long either,
- consider storing the spun sugar in an airtight container with some dessicant or silcan gel sachets (ensuring it doesn't touch the sugar work!)
To be honest I was more than happy with our Lemon and Thyme Savarin Cake. The cake itself was absolutely delicious, being light moist and packed with lemon flavour and subtle notes from the fresh thyme. The sweetness of the white chocolate and mascapone frosting work beautifully against the sharpness of the lemon, though the lemon and thyme curd didn't really bring the 'drizzled' look I was aiming for once it was applied. It was fabulous to eat, even Mr E echoed this by going for a second slice! Aesthetically both Mr E & I felt that it looked good too, although the
by the time he had returned home from the office the spun sugar wasn't
in its prime!
So let's get to it and baaaaake
with white chocolate & mascapone frosting, lemon & thyme curd,
candid lemon slices and completed with spun sugar spirals. Savarin is a light yeasted cake which once cooked is soaked with flavoured sugar syrup.
Hands on time: up to 2 hours Cook time: 20 - 25 mins Yield: 1 x 23cm cake, serves 10 - 12
23cm Savarin / bundt mould
For the Savarin Sponge
- 300g Plain Flour
- 50g Strong White Bread Flour
- 50g Caster Sugar
- 10g Instant Yeast
- 2 Lemons, finely grated zest of
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, gently washed, finely chopped
- ½ tsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Milk
- 6 Eggs, Large
- 180g Butter, unsalted & very soft, plus extra for greasing
For the Lemon and Thyme Curd (optional)
- 42g Butter, unsalted
- 75g Caster Sugar
- 1 Lemon (ideally unwaxed), finely grated zest & juice
- 1 Thyme Sprig, gently washed
- 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
For the White Chocolate & Mascapone Frosting
- 130g Mascapone, full fat
- 130g White Chocolate, melted
For the Syrup and Canid Lemon Slices
- 300g Caster Sugar
- 2 Lemons, juice of
- 150ml Water
- 1 Lemons (ideally unwaxed)
For the Spun Sugar
- 130g Caster Sugar
a) Depending upon the humidity of the room, the sugar work will soon spoil, therefore make it just before serving.
Pin it for later, Lemon & Thyme Savarin Cake: