Iced Souvaroffs with rhubarb and apricot jams and pistachio cream

souvaroffs2

Now – who’s excited about the imminent new series of the Great British Bake Off? Almost everyone involved in the Twitter baking community for a start!

I’ve included some of my illustrations in this recipe to help you make these Souvaroff biscuits.

This year the fab and lovely Baking Nanna and Rob Allen have put together a  #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong baking fest via Twitter to coincide with the series – however as it’s starting a little later than we’d all anticipated we’ve all got a chance to do a little practice for a couple of weeks before the show starts in earnest and we bake along to match that week’s theme in “the tent”.

First up is biscuits.

I am going to try to do a “showstopper” for each of the weeks of the bake-along. I did struggle to decide what to do. Biscuits are one of my strong points, and if you’re familiar with this blog or my Instagram account you’ll know I’ve done some really complex and/or unusual ones in the past. I did think ‘go big’, but actually this week’s been a tad difficult and I had to do a bake that was split into parts; biscuits one time, filling another, piping later on. I didn’t have the ability to spend a few hours at a time.

I decided to do a new and slightly more intricate version of my own strawberry Souvaroff recipe. In the original I actually went and researched the history of the biscuits as well as develop the recipe. It’s the biscuit that inspired the jammy dodger – and actually is far superior. It’s genuinely worth trying to bake a batch.

Notes

  • because I used an intricate cutter and wanted a clean, sharp biscuit (in my head I am actually in the GBBO tent so am trying my bestest!) I actually baked the shortbread in one large slab then pressed out the shapes while it was still hot. If you don’t want to do this and want to prepare traditionally, you can cut out the biscuits before baking and arrange with spaces in between on the baking sheet
  • 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
  • If you’re feeling not up to the piping, you can either drizzle with the icing in a zigzag pattern or omit the icing entirely
  • Both apricots and rhubarb are low in naturally occurring pectin, so you will have to use preserving sugar (granulated sugar with pectin already added). This is widely available in supermarkets. Because I have made these jams in small batch amounts I have used preserving sugar – normally if I am making many jars of jam at a time I’ll calculate the sugar and pectin amounts separately, but here it is not worth it with just a jar sized amount. Much easier to use the prepared stuff in this instance
  • Make the jams in advance, allowing them to cool
  • Finally, not got pistachio paste or can’t be bothered to make your own? Just leave it out – not quite so completely delicious but still yummy

Equipment

  • 1 large baking sheet, prepared with baking parchment or silicon sheet
  • Rolling pin
  • Palette knife
  • Large shaped cutter – about 6cm
  • Smaller cutter for the middle cut-out (I used a heart but any small cutter, 1 – 2cm in diameter will do)
  • Bowls
  • Piping bag with small circular nozzle
  • Clean small paint brush

If you are making your own jams, you will also need:

  • Sugar thermometer
  • Two large saucepans (or make one jam at a time and use a single pan)
  • Two sterilised jars and lids – see my tips on sterilisation in my lemon curd recipe

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 pistachio 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 60ml
  • Pistachio paste – two dessertspoons

Plus:

  • Rhubarb jam: either:
    • half a standard 340/350g jar or
    • 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped into small chunks
    • the same weight in preserving sugar (sugar with pectin already added) as the rhubarb weighs
  • Apricot jam: either:
    • half a standard 340/350g jar or
    • about 8 apricots, stones removed and chopped into about eight pieces each
    • the same weight in granulated sugar (sugar with pectin added) as the apricots weigh

Ingredients – icing

  • About a half cupful of royal icing to your favoured recipe or:
    • 1 egg white, whisked lightly
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • about 250g sieved (to remove any lumps) icing sugar (plus have a bit more handy)
  • Metallic food colouring* (if you don’t have this you can just use normal food colouring and add it to the royal icing as you mix). This requires painting on, as if you mix the metallic colouring in it loses its sparkle and is just a normal colour. *I used two colours in these pictures – a silver and a metallic purple

Method – jams

For the rhubarb jam

  1. Wash the chopped rhubarb and place it in the bottom of a large saucepan
  2. Clip the sugar thermometer on the side of the saucepan if you are using a bulb thermometer
  3. Tip the sugar in gently and add only just enough water to wet the sugar and no more (a couple of tablespoons)
  4. Turn up the heat and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil
  5. Do not stir, you may gently ‘swirl’ the sauce pan if you really think it’s necessary
  6. Heat to 104C – and let it simmer at this point for a couple of minutes
  7. Test whether the jam is done by dropping a little of the mixture on a cool plate – if you push the jam and it wrinkles as you push it, then it is ready. If not let it boil for a few minutes more and then re-test
  8. When done, carefully pour into the sterilised jar and leave to cool

For the apricot jam

  • Repeat all the steps as for rhubarb jam, obviously using the pre-prepared apricots instead

Method – biscuits

  1. Put your oven on – fan oven at 180˚C, or 190˚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. Cut the parchment to fit inside your baking tray (or ensure your silicon mat fits it)
  5. Roll out the dough to about 3-4mm thick on top of either a sheet of parchment or your silicon mat
  6. Gently lift up the whole paper (you made want to use a cake lifter, a couple of spatulas, a bread board or another willing pair of hands to help) and place the whole lot on the baking tray
  7. Bake in the bottom or centre of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes. It should not be browned at all
  8. Have your cutters ready
  9. Leave to cool for one minute – no more (only so they don’t burn you) – and then get to work immediately!
  10. Use your cutters to cut as many large shapes as possible, and then cut our smaller ‘windows’ from just HALF of those large shapes (you need half to be complete for the bottoms and half with a gap in for the tops)souvaroffFilling
  11. Leave to cool a little, then using a palette knife transfer the biscuit shapes onto a wire rack
  12. The leftover biscuit remnants and crumbs make a lovely crumble topping or are good for a cheesecake base – you can freeze them for later use

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 and the pistachio paste

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 outwardssouvaroffDrawingCuttingOut
  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

To ice

  1. Make up the royal icing by adding the lemon juice and two thirds of the egg white to the icing sugar and mix together
  2. If it is not coming together and needs more liquid add the rest of the egg white
  3. If it is still not the right consistency for piping, add a few drops of water (add the plain food colouring in now too if you do not want to paint it on)
  4. If you’ve ‘gone too far’ and the icing is too runny, just add a little more icing sugar
  5. Put the royal icing in the piping bag fitter with the small round nozzle and pipe scrolls on the tops of the assembled biscuits. If you don’t want to attempt scroll work, neat zigzags will look great too
  6. Leave the icing to set for 20 – 30 minutes and then dip the paint brush in the food colouring and carefully paint over the piped scrollssouvaroffIcing
  7. I used two metallic colours and bled them into each other, but one colour on its own still looks fabulous

Chill slightly – as they include cream they won’t last longer than two days (Souvaroffs made with just jam will keep longer in an airtight container)souvaroffs1

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