Savarin is a yeasty cake that is soaked with rum syrup until it becomes very moist. It is often served with pastry cream, but I like to make it with gianduja cream instead, which I find a bit lighter. Instead of filling the savarin, I pipe a generous amount of the gianduja cream in its center and then cover the cake with it, which means that each slice will have an ample amount of cream when served.
If you do not own a savarin mold, you can make this in the bottom of a Bundt pan. The top of the cake won’t be as smooth, but the taste will not be affected.—François Payard
For the savarin
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Vegetable cooking spray, for the mold
For the gianduja cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces gianduja chocolate, melted
For the soaking syrup
5 3/4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 grapefruit
1/4 cup dark rum, such as Myers’s
Make the savarin
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it stand for 10 minutes.
2. Place the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whisk the eggs together and combine them with the dissolved yeast. Pour the liquid into the bowl and turn onto medium speed. The dough should start coming together after 2 minutes. Add the butter to the mixture and mix for another 2 minutes, until well incorporated. The dough should be very soft. Remove the dough from the machine and take off the paddle. Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour or until it is doubled in volume.
3. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray the sides and bottom of a round 9-inch savarin mold with vegetable cooking spray.
4. Transfer the dough to the prepared mold, and let it rise to fill the mold, 1 to 2 hours. Once the dough has risen, bake for about 30 minutes or until the savarin is brown and the dough is fully baked and feels dry. Remove the mold from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the savarin onto a wire cooling rack, and let it cool completely. The cake can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container in a dry, cool environment.
Make the gianduja cream
1. Pour the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip at medium speed until the cream holds medium peaks.
2. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold in the remaining cream. Refrigerate until the cream firms up, about 15 minutes.
Make the soaking syrup
1. Place 1 1/2 quarts of water, the sugar, orange juice, and grapefruit zest in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the liquid from the heat, cover the pan, and let everything steep for 10 minutes. Return to the heat and bring back to just below a boil, and add the tea. Remove from the heat and let steep for another 5 minutes, covering the pan again. Strain the liquid over a bowl, then stir in the rum. Set aside.
1. Heat the soaking syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Do not let it boil. Place the syrup in a heatproof container large enough to hold the cake, such as a plastic container or a casserole dish.
2. With a fork, poke all over the bottom of the cake, to allow the cake to absorb the syrup. Place the cake in the container with the hot syrup, and leave it there to soak up as much liquid as possible while still retaining a solid structure, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with wax paper, and place a wire cooling rack on top of the paper.
3. With a slotted spoon, remove the savarin from the syrup and place it onto the cooling rack, to drain the excess syrup.
4. Place the apricot preserves in a small saucepan over medium heat and heat until it liquefies and becomes pourable. Once the savarin has drained, pour the liquefied preserves over the whole savarin. Transfer to a serving plate.
5. Just before serving, fit a pastry bag or a resealable plastic bag with the corner cut off with a 1/2-inch star tip, and fill the bag with the gianduja cream. Pipe some of the cream into the center of the cake, then over the top of the whole cake, forming a circular pattern of even thickness.
Recipe © 2008 by François Payard. All rights reserved.