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Sophie’s Ode to the Honey Bee Entremet

A simplified version of what appeared on the show, this entremet has four layers, each with a distinct flavour: an orange-blossom almond sponge, set lemon curd, a caramelised honey set custard, and finally a gelee topping made with pureed blackberries.

Makes: one large entremet, cuts into 12

Hands-on time: 2 hours

Baking time: 18 minutes

Skill level: Up for a challenge

For the sponge:

80g unsalted butter, diced

115g caster sugar

75g ground almonds

35g plain flour

4 medium egg whites, at room temperature

Good pinch salt

Finely grated zest ½ medium unwaxed lemon

Finely grated zest ½ medium unwaxed orange

½ teaspoon orange blossom water

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the lemon set curd:

200ml lemon juice (from about 5 medium lemons)

4g agar-agar

2 medium eggs, at room temperature

200g caster sugar

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

For the honey set custard:

6g (about 3 sheets) leaf gelatine

125g orange blossom honey

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

325ml double cream, at room temperature

90ml full-fat milk, at room temperature

4 medium egg yolks, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon caster sugar

For the blackberry gelee:

6g (about 3 sheets) leaf gelatine

350g blackberries

2 tablespoons lemon juice

55g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

125g caster sugar

2 medium eggs, at room temperature

To decorate:

Fresh blackberries

Icing sugar, for dusting

You will also need:

22cm spring-clip tin, greased with butter and base-lined with baking paper

Electric hand whisk or stand mixer

22cm thin card cake base

Wide strip acetate

 

Step 1 – Start with the sponge: heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4 and make the beurre noisette (browned butter) to flavour the mixture. Melt the butter in a small pan and leave to bubble gently over a medium-low heat until the butter turns a nut-brown colour. Set aside and leave to cool to room temperature.

Step 2 – Meanwhile, sift half the sugar and all the ground almonds and the flour into a bowl. Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the salt, and whisk until they stand in soft peaks when the whisk is lifted. Whisk in the remaining sugar, and continue whisking until the meringue stands in stiff peaks. Sprinkle the flour mixture and the grated lemon and orange zests on top and start to fold in using a large metal spoon or plastic spatula. When the flour is half-combined, trickle in the melted butter, the orange blossom water and the vanilla, and fold in.

Step 3 – When completely combined, spoon the mixture into the prepared spring-clip tin and bake in the heated oven until golden brown – when you gently press a finger in the centre it should spring back. Transfer to a wire rack and unmould. Leave to cool.

Step 4 – When the cake is cold, wash and dry the cake tin and press the card cake base into the bottom of the tin. Cut a wide strip of acetate to fit vertically inside the tin, like a collar, and secure with sticky tape. Place the sponge on top of the card base, pressing it down firmly – if the sponge has shrunk, tighten the acetate collar so it fits snugly around the sponge.

Step 5 – Now make the lemon set curd: pour the lemon juice into a heavy-based, medium-sized pan, sprinkle the agar-agar over the top, and place the pan over a medium-low heat. Leave to come to the boil without stirring, then simmer gently (stirring occasionally) for about 8 minutes, until the flakes have completely dissolved.

Step 6 – Meanwhile, break the eggs into a heatproof bowl, add the sugar and whisk with a wire hand whisk for 2-3 minutes until very smooth and light. Then whisk in the lemon/agar-agar mixture. When thoroughly combined, return the mixture to the pan and stir constantly over a medium-low heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat just before the mixture boils. Stir in the butter, a few pieces at a time, then strain into a jug. Leave the curd to cool to room temperature and start to thicken – stirring frequently. Then pour the curd into the tin on top of the sponge and place in the fridge for about 4-5 hours until set (it will take longer than a mixture set with gelatine).

Step 7 – When the curd has set, make the caramelised honey set custard: put the gelatine leaves into a bowl and add cold water to cover. Leave to soak and soften while you make the custard: weigh the honey into a heavy-based, medium-sized pan, add the vanilla paste and place over a medium-low heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the honey turns thicker and a few shades darker – the bubbling will be slower and the bubbles larger. Remove the pan from the heat and, very carefully, whisk in the cream and milk using a wire hand whisk. Return the pan to the heat and whisk until very smooth and very hot. Remove the pan from the heat.

Step 8 – Put the egg yolks into a heatproof bowl, add the salt and sugar, and whisk (using a wire hand whisk) for a couple of minutes until very smooth and light. Whisk in the hot honey cream, then when thoroughly combined, pour the mixture back into the pan. Return to a medium-low heat and stir constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon – don’t let the mixture get too hot or come close to boiling or it will curdle. Remove the pan from the heat.

Step 9 – Lift the gelatine out of its soaking water, squeeze out the excess water, then stir the gelatine into the hot custard. When thoroughly dissolved, strain the custard into a jug. Leave to cool to room temperature and start to thicken – stirring frequently. Then pour into the tin, on top of the set lemon curd. Chill until set and firm.

Step 10 – Now make the gelee top layer: soak the gelatine as before. Meanwhile, put the blackberries and lemon juice into a medium-sized pan and set over a medium heat. Stir gently as the berries start to release their juice and the mixture comes to a boil. Then simmer gently, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the berries are very soft. Mash to a thick puree with a potato masher, then add the butter and sugar and stir until melted.

Step 11 – Break the eggs into a heatproof bowl and beat until combined, then whisk in the hot blackberry puree. Return the mixture to the pan and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens to coat the back of the spoon – don’t let the mixture boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Drain and stir in the gelatine as before. When thoroughly dissolved, strain the blackberry mixture into a jug, and discard the seeds left in the sieve. Leave to cool to room temperature, stirring frequently. When the gelee starts to thicken, pour it over the top of the set custard then return the tin to the fridge. Leave until set and firm.

Step 12 – When ready to serve, unclip the tin and remove the dessert. Peel off the acetate collar and set the dessert on a serving plate. Decorate with fresh blackberries dusted with icing sugar and serve immediately.