Strawberry and cream Souvaroffs – the original jammie dodgers

souvaroffslandscape

These petit four sablés have been adapted from a very old French recipe I found (late 1800s). Although it was a French recipe, these biscuits had an intriguing Russian name and I tried to research where they came from or who they were named after.

I discovered one or two French websites that claimed the biscuits were named after General Suvorov, a Russian who fought in the Crimea (amongst other campaigns) and was reportedly Russia’s ‘greatest ever General’ because he was never undefeated. I’m not sure that’s quite right, but it’s quite a romantic notion. My heavyweight Larousse Gastronomique says that they were named after one of his descendants, Prince Suvorov (the Royal moniker was given to the General and then handed down). The Prince spent a lot of time and money in Paris restaurants in the late 1800s, which would make him more contemporary to the recipe. During the Victorian era (and continuing up to today), often a high class restaurant with an ambitious chef would try to please one of its very rich patrons by naming a recipe after them to ensure continued patronage (for example, peach Melba, a dessert named after Dame Nelly Melba).

A partridge dish has been named after this Prince as well, which adds to the likelihood that these little sablés bear his name too. Both the pheasant dish and the sablés have changed the spelling over time from Suvorov to Souvaroffs, probably because of colloquial pronunciation. These biscuits are basically rounds (or whatever other shapes you want to make) sandwiched together with jam, with the top biscuit having a central cut out so that you can see the jam inside. I’ve added a layer of cream to turn it into a posh jammie dodger, albeit one with quite an illustrious history. I wonder if these actually influenced the creation of the jammie dodger – Souvaroffs certainly came first.

Notes
  • I’ve decided to alter the original ingredients a little, by adding polenta. If you want to do the original recipe I found just omit the polenta and use 250g of plain flour instead.
  • I cut out the centre of the biscuits after they had been baked so that I had a sharper edge to the cut out. This meant I had several mini biscuits (the centre bits I cut out) but they didn’t go to waste and got eaten too – and they’re cute! You can do the cutting out before baking if you prefer, but it will ‘bleed’ during cooking as the biscuits spread.
  • You could also roll the dough into a log-shape, chill, then slice the rounds off.
  • If you don’t have a tiny cutter for the centres on the top halves, then you can use the large end of a piping nozzle.
  • You can also omit the buttercream and just sandwich the biscuits together with jam (they’ll keep longer than with cream and jam).
  • Makes about 20 rounds or 10 finalised sandwich biscuits.
  • These biscuits are quite short, that is they are crisp when cooked.
Equipment
  • 2 large baking sheets, prepared with baking parchment or silicon sheets
  • Rolling pin
  • Palette knife
  • Large round cutter – about 6cm
  • Smaller cutter for the middle cut-out (I used a heart but any small cutter, 1 – 2cm in diameter will do)
Ingredients – for the Souvaroffs
  • Unsalted butter – 200g
  • Caster sugar – 100g
  • Plain flour – 200g
  • Polenta (fine cornmeal) – 50g
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Ingredients for the cream
  • Vanilla buttercream – about 100ml (make with butter, softened – 70g and icing sugar – 170g roughly). This is a small amount, so you might want to take some from a previous recipe or make more and freeze it for later)
  • Whipped double cream or clotted cream – about 100ml
Plus:
  • Strawberry jam – you’ll need the best part of a standard 340/350g jar
Method
  1. Put your oven on – fan oven at 160˚C, or 175˚C conventional
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. Aim for a smooth dough but don’t overwork it
  3. You’ll need to dust both your work surface and your rolling pin quite liberally with flour for these biscuits (due to the high quality of butter in them)
  4. Roll out the dough to about 3-4mm thick and cut out as many rounds with the large cutter as you can – it’ll be around 20
  5. Place them gently on the prepared baking trays
  6. They will spread so leave some space between them
  7. Bake in the bottom or centre of the oven for 14 – 15 minutes. They should not be browned at all
  8. Leave to cool for one minute – no more – and then use your small cutter to cut out a shape from HALF of the biscuits (you need half to be complete for the bottoms and half with a gap in for the tops).
  9. Leave to cool completely
Method – cream
  1. Make the buttercream by whipping the icing sugar into the butter, adding a drop or two of water if needed
  2. Once made, whip in the cream
To assemble
  1. Spread a thin layer of the cream over the bottom half biscuit (ie a biscuit with no hole in it)
  2. Put a heaped teaspoonful of jam over the buttercream, in the centre of the biscuit (if you don’t put it in the centre you’ll end up mixing jam and cream together and it won’t look so nice as an end results) and spread outwards
  3. Press one of the tops (ie a biscuit with a shape cut out) onto the biscuit base you’ve just covered with cream and jam
  4. Chill slightly – as they include cream they won’t last longer than two to three days (Souvaroffs made with just jam will keep longer in an airtight container)
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