Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Timeless Savarin

When our friends R and A asked us to bring a dessert to dinner at their place recently, I decided to do something simple yet classic, making use a small set of readily-available ingredients in the kitchen (hence saved me another trip to the supermarket in a cold winter day).

Savarin is an old-school French pastry - said to be invented by a Parisian patissier in the mid-1800s and named after a French gourmand at that time - but still popular to this date, in its various shapes and forms. It's basically a dry butter-yeast cake soaked in liquor, traditionally baked on a round mould with a hole in the center. One of the more famous variations is Rum Baba, which took the shape of a brioche and soaked in rum, the same dish I had at On Dining last month. That gave me the idea of making one at home.

I have blogged about a Rum Baba recipe before, but this version yielded one 10-inch cake in the traditional form rather than individual cakes, which you could use as the base for many savarin variations. It only took 10 minutes of active preparation time and the whole thing could be done in less than 2 hours including resting/cooking time.

Savarin Cake (yields a 10-inch cake, for 6-8 people)

  • 200g strong/bread flour + 50g plain four (or all 250g bread flour for firmer texture)
  • 2 teaspoon of yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 150ml whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
1. Warm the milk on stove or microwave. Leave the yeast in the warm milk for 15 minutes until the mixture starts bubbling
2. Meanwhile, mix the flours, sugar, eggs and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour the milk and yeast into the dry mixture and mix in completely.
3. Cut the butter in small cubes and add in to the batter - no need to whip that in just yet. Cover the mixing bowl with cling wrap and leave in a warm and dry place for 60-90 minutes. The batter should double in size but still wet.
4. Give the batter a quick mix in the mixing bowl to beat out the air and combine the soften butter. Pour into a 10-inch savarin mould (one with a hole in the center) and even out the batter with a spoon or spatula. Cover in cling wrap again and let the batter sit for another 30 minutes to settle. It should rise a little more.
5. Preheat oven to 170C. Put the savarin mould in the middle part of the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the surface was slightly browned and a skewer stuck into the center came out clean.
6. Remove the cake from oven, let cool then over-turn it into a large round plate. It can be served immediately or stay under room temperature for 2-3 days.

There are numerous ways to serve the dessert. Of course the most classic way would be to dip the piece of cake in Armagnac or Rum and served with Creme Chantilly. Alternatively you could use a sweet wine like a Sauternes, or just orange juice for something non-alcoholic. You can also add syrup and water to dilute the alcohol content for a lighter flavor. Garnish with seasonal fruits or candied/preserved ones, or drizzles of honey.

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