This Tipsy Cake is based off of a very famous tipsy cake served at one of my favorite London eateries: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Mike and I first had lunch at Dinner five(!?!) years ago. We were both slightly obsessed with him, having had some of our first dates in watching his BBC series, In Search of Perfection.
Heston is a crazy chef. His dishes are involved, fun, and ultimately, delicious. Way back in the day, before I started blogging and was just a baby home cook, I decided that I wanted to make peking duck. Soon after, Mike and I watched the In Search of Perfection episode on just that. I was inspired! Heston does some crazy shit where he takes the skin off the duck, sews it onto a wire rack and ladles hot oil over it. I did a botched job and somehow managed to melt a ladle, because duh, plastic ladles and hot oil don’t mix. After that I couldn’t look at a duck for months…
Anyway, the Tipsy Cake (yes, it needs to be capitalized) at Dinner is amazing. It’s an ethereal fluffy cloud of brioche, dipped in sugar, then proofed so it has a cracked caramelized crust. It’s partially baked, then moved to a deck oven and soaked in vanilla brandy cream, which caramelizes as the brioche continues to bake. When it arrives in the most adorable mini cocotte, it’s served with spit roasted pineapple. It’s kind of unassuming looking, but one bite of the hot, fluffy brioche with the crackly crust and creamy caramelized cream and you’ll be wanting another, stat.
This is actually my second try at making Heston’s Tipsy Cake. The first time I did it for a dinner party, untested. Usually I don’t do that sort of thing – I like cooking things that are tried and true because inevitably something goes wrong. And yup, Heston’s recipe, which involves an extremely buttery brioche dough that is frozen overnight then proofed for four hours did not work, surprise, surprise! At that point it was too late and I rolled with it and our guests were very polite about it, but inside I was cringing the whole night.
Anyway, I couldn’t let the Tipsy Cake best me. I felt like the magic lay in the cooking cream and not so much the brioche so when I had some leftover challah dough, I decided to go ahead and make a challah version for our Thanksgiving dessert. You can definitely use your favorite brioche recipe, if you have one.
If this seems like a decadent dessert, it is. I didn’t do the classic spit roasted pineapple to with – I don’t have a rotisserie spit hanging out in my kitchen, but I do recommend serving some sort of fruit with. And, if you’re going to be even more decadent, serve it with some ice cream, because hot fluffy rum soaked bread and ice cream are what dreams are made of.
Hope all my American friends are all Thanksgiving ready!
love and tipsy cake,
PS – I recently went back and read some of my old post and they make me so nostalgic. I was getting a little disenchanted with this whole blogging thing – I’ve noticed a drop in comments, so I kinda feel like no one is reading anymore. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter to me if anyone’s reading because I get to look back and laugh at little things that I never would have remembered if I didn’t blog about them. So thank you me (and Mike!), for somewhat forcing me to keep doing what I do, even when I don’t want to.
PPS – Other Heston recipes, just in case you wanna go deep :)
Challah Tipsy Cake Recipe
- 1/2 recipe challah dough, after the overnight proof
- 1/2 cup melted, but cool butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
Tipsy Cake Creme:
- 500 grams heavy whipping cream
- 75 grams demerara sugar
- 75 grams light brown sugar
- 40 grams Sauternes
- 65 grams brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
liberally adapted from Heston Blumenthal’s Tipsy Cake
You can definitely make this smaller, as per how Heston does it at Dinner. Divide the dough into 12 gram portions, then shape and place 5 into each mini cast iron cocotte. When you bake, you’ll need to adjust the time accordingly: bake for 15 minutes, the pour on the cream, about 20-25 grams the first time, then 15 grams each time subsequently.
After the dough has been proofed overnight, take it out of the fridge and tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. You can eyeball this, which is what I did, or if you want to be precise, weight the dough and dived into 20, cutting and weighting each ball of dough as needed.
Once the dough is divided, tuck each portion of dough into a tight ball. Choose a baking vessel that is large enough to hold all of the balls of dough. They will rise a bit, but if they’re snug in the baking dish, that’s fine. I used a 12 inch round baking dish.
One by one, dip the balls of dough into the butter, then roll in the sugar before placing in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. The surface of the dough will show cracking from where the dough proofs through the butter and sugar. This is ideal!
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic wrap from the dish and bake for 30 minutes. While the bread is baking, blend together the whipping cream, sugars, alcohols, and vanilla.
When the bread balls have baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and, using a knife or offset spatula, make incisions in between where the balls of dough meat. Pour in half of the cream and bake for another 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining cream. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5-10 minute and enjoy hot!