Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TWD: Baking with Julia - Savarin

 Hmmm, for some reason this never posted as scheduled.....

Our recipe challenge for Tuesdays with Dorie this week was a Savarin!  If you, like me, have no idea what a Savarin might be, let me give you a little lesson.  A Savarin is a cake made with baba dough in a ring mold.  Helpful?  Ha!  Not so much.  A baba is a yeast dough that is airy like a sponge.  It is baked and then soaked in a syrup (often rum, for baba au rhum).  In the 1800s, a baba was baked in a ring mold for gastronome Brillat-Savarin, and there the cake got it's name. 

I do not own a savarin mold and did not take this opportunity to increase my already large baking supplies.  So I baked my savarin in the bottom of a Bundt pan.  Three times. 

Let's talk about this a minute.  I actually baked this savarin THREE TIMES.  Yes, indeed, you read that correctly.  I made it the first time and forgot a step, so that one (which resembled more of a frisbee than a cake) went into the trash.  So I made it again, and paid more attention this time.  (Let me assure you, this recipe is not complicated at all, I was simply doing too much multitasking the first time around.)  The second batch did rise, but not very much.  It was still pretty sad looking.  I then watched a video of the recipe author, David Blom, making this savarin with Julia.  The only thing I saw that was different in the video is that he did not mix the dough as long as the recipe states.  I set savarin number 2 aside and made another, following the instructions as stated on the video.  Savarin number 3 turned out identical to savarin number 2.  What gives?  I have no clue.

However, I now had two fairly attractive, but not very tall, cakes.  So I decided to use them both!

Here are the general savarin steps:
Mix together lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, and an egg in a small bowl.  Add to flour in a mixing bowl until combined, and then mix in some soft butter. 

Cover and let rise for about 15 minutes.

Pour this into your ring mold/bundt pan.  Above is a good picture of my new life.  There is a sticker from the clever girl on one arm, and I am holding a sleeping baby and the mixing bowl with the other.  Let's get another look at that....

That's dedication, folks!  Oh, and in case you are really paying attention, yes, you are seeing two shirts on me.  I had just finished nursing the clever baby,  hence one shirt is pulled up a bit to provide access to fine dining for the little man.  Thankfully, I was wearing this blue tank under my shirt, so when Mr. Clever Mom took this photo, it would not show my not yet back to normal body!  Hey, I should end up with some super toned arms this way, right?

When the dough got into the pan, it hardly covered a tiny bit of the bottom.

Let it rise for another 30+ minutes, and it looks a lot better!  However for some reason, when it cooked, it sank a bit and remained pretty short.

After baking, the cakes are soaked in a syrup.  The syrup is a basic simple syrup (2 cups water with 1 cup sugar), to which I added a bit of my homemade vanilla extract.  You could also add rum or another liquor to your liking, but I was bringing this to a party with several pregnant women and lots of kids, so that wasn't such a good idea for me.  To soak the savarin, the recipe says to place them on a cooling rack that is set over a parchment lined jelly roll pan.  This works, but you get a nice and sticky jelly roll pan in the process.  So I stuck a savarin back into the Bundt pan and poured the syrup over the top until it seemed fairly saturated, then carefully pulled it back out and set it on a platter.  Pulling the savarin back out of the Bundt pan is the hard part, but it worked!

I whipped up some Chantilly cream (which is sweetened whipped cream) and piped a thick layer on one savarin, then set the other one on top.  Since savarins all have some sort of hole in the middle, the middle is then filled with something.  Mine was filled with more Chantilly cream.  I then put some macerated strawberries, blackberries and raspberries on top. 

Here's the recipe:
adapted from Baking with Julia
6 TB lukewarm water (about 100F)
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 TB unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

Clarified unsalted butter

Pour warm water into a small/medium bowl and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the top.  Add the egg and stir gently with a rubber spatula to mix. 

Put the flour in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and add the yeast mixture.  Mix on low for 1-2 minutes, just until the ingredients are blended, then increase the speed to medium-low and beat for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is smooth (this part is not in the video - and I did not do it on my third try, though it didn't make much difference).  Add butter and beat on low just until the butter is absorbed, 1 to 3 minutes.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place (85F - 90F) for about 15 minutes, just until slightly risen.  It will not double.

Brush a ring mold or Bundt pan with clarified butter and fill with the dough.  Cover and let rise in a very warm place (same temps) for about 30 minutes, or until the dough fills the mold.  If you use a Bundt pan, the dough will not fill the mold but will rise significantly

Position a rack on the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Put the savarin on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until it is golden and starts to shrink from the sides of the mold.  Unmold onto a cooling rack and cool completely before soaking.

For soaking and assembling:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
a few tablespoons raspberry puree
approximately 1 cup assorted fresh berries
sugar to taste
1 cup raspberries
3 TB poire (pear) eau-de-vie
whipped cream

Bring the water and sugar to a boil and turn off the heat.  You will want to add a flavoring to your soaking syrup, like vanilla (for the underage crowd) or maybe rum or Cointreau for the adult crowd.  Add this flavoring once the syrup has come to a boil.    Place a cooling rack over a parchment or waxed paper covered jelly-roll pan.  Spoon the hot syrup over the cooled savarin, a few tablespoons at a time, until the savarin is plump and cannot hold any more liquid.  OR, place the savarin back in the ring mold and pour the syrup into the mold until the savarin is plump and then CAREFULLY remove the savarin and put it on a platter to cool.  

Put about 2 teaspoons of water in a saute pan and add raspberry puree.  Warm the sauce and add half to all of the assorted berries.  Sugar the berries to taste and bring to a boil.  Add the raspberries and stir to mix.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool.  OR, mascerate the fresh berries by sprinkling with sugar and squeezing fresh lemon juice over the top.  Stir and allow to sit until nice and juicy. 

Transfer the savarin to a serving plate and drizzle with pear eau-de-vie.  Or not.  You could drizzle with some other nice liquor if you have an adult crowd, or don't drizzle with anything! 

Fill the center of the savarin with whipped cream (I used Chantilly cream) and top with berries.  Spoon some whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small 1/4-inch star tip (or tip of your choice) and pipe a ring of rosettes around the base of the savarin (or decorate as you like!).

Serve immediately. 
Printable Recipe

Ta-da!  I wasn't so sure this would work out, but it did!  I have no idea what might have gone wrong to make all of my savarin attempts fall somewhat flat, but slap some cream and fresh berries on it and it is delicious!  It is a bit weird (to me) to eat a cake that contains yeast, but the dough is very sponge-like and soaked the syrup right up, making it very moist and yummy.  And really, what isn't good slathered in whipped cream and berries?


  1. Great save on the cake(s).
    And I am mad impressed with your baby toting baking skills :-)

  2. Wondermom!
    Congratulations on your beautiful, cute, sweet baby: he's adorable!
    I don't know where you found the energy to make the savarin 3 times and take care of your baby, but I admire you... a lot!
    And your third attempt is gorgeous. Bravo!


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