Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenged the Daring Bakers to make a traditional Savarin for the April 2013 Challenge, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! They were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling! Savarin is a yeasted cake made with the same dough as Rum Baba who has its controversial origins in the Polish Babka. Apparently, in the 18th century the recipe traveled with the exiled Polish king, Stanislas, who once soaked a dried Babka in an alcoholic solution, creating what is now known as Baba au Rhum.

The original Babka (Christian version) is often baked in a tall ring mold but it is in the Julien brothers’ Patisserie in 1844 that it was baked in the classic Savarin mold (who takes its name from the eclectic lawyer, politician and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin). Years later thanks to an unknown French cook the Baba traveled to Naples where it is still one of the most popular treats. The Savarin ‘hole’ is filled with cream or custard and decorated with fruit.

The recipe chosen by Natalia is a mix of the recipes from a very famous Italian Blogger, Adriano Continisio of Profumo di Lievito, and a very famous Italian Chef, Luca Montersino. This is a very rich dough where the gluten has to be well developed before adding any fat. For this reason the yolks are added after the autolyse not to disturb gluten at all. The salt crystals can cut the elastic strands of the gluten too so they are added later as the butter which is the last addition.

After the first proofing, the ‘Dough Package fold’ method is used to strengthen the structure of the dough and result in a smaller and tighter crumb. After that the dough is shaped on the work bench with a method called ‘Pirlatura‘ that is used for Panettone as well. So it’s not my first time with a rich buttery dough. I chose vanilla over peach for the soaking syrup and used a mixture of chopped belle helene pears, toasted pecan nuts and raw demerara sugar for the topping.



For the Dough

2½ cups (600 ml) (12-1/3 oz) (350 gm) bread flour

2 tablespoons (30 ml) water, lukewarm

6 (320 gm) large eggs at room temperature, separated

½ satchel (1½ teaspoons) (4 gm) instant yeast or 15 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast

4 teaspoons (20 ml) (20 gm) sugar

2/3 stick (1/3 cup) (80 ml) (75 gm) butter at room temperature

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) orange and lemon zest (optional)

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (55 gm) butter, for greasing

For the Peach Syrup

1½ cups (350 ml) peach tea

1½ cups (350 ml) peach juice

1½ cups (350 ml) water

1 cup (240 ml) (8 oz) (225 gm) sugar

Zest of one lemon

1 cinnamon stick

For the Glaze

2 tablespoons (30 ml) apricot jam

2 tablespoons water

For the Pastry Cream

2 cups (500 ml) milk

¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) sugar

Zest of one lemon

2 large egg yolks + 1 large egg

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1¼ oz) (35 gm) cornstarch

¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) sugar

1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream


  • For the Sponge, mix 2 tbs (30 ml) lukewarm water, 3 tbs (1 oz) (25 gm) flour and yeast in a small bowl.
  • Cover with cling film and let rise 60 minutes. After 30 minutes, put the egg whites in the mixer bowl.

  • Start working with the paddle at low speed. Add flour until dough is soft and sticks to the bowl (about 2 cups/270 g).
  • Work until it comes together, cover with cling film and let rest 30 min. Add the sponge to the mixer bowl+ 1 tbs flour.

  • Start mixing at low speed (if you wish to add the zests do it now) until it starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Add one yolk and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour, add the second yolk and the sugar.

  • As soon as the yolk is absorbed, add one tablespoon of flour. Raise the speed a little. Add the third yolk and the salt.
  • As soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour. Keep on adding one yolk at the time and the flour.

  • Save a tablespoon of flour for later. Mix the dough until is elastic and makes threads.
  • Add the butter at room temperature and as soon as the butter is adsorbed add the last tablespoon of flour.

  • Keep on mixing till the dough passes the window pane test. Cover the dough with cling film.
  • Let it proof until it has tripled in volume 2 to 3 hours. You can prepare the Pastry Cream now and refrigerate it.

  • While you wait prepare your baking pan buttering it very carefully not leaving too much butter on it.
  • Grease your dough scraper, your hands and your work surface and put the dough on it.

  • Fold with the Dough Package Fold two or three times around (5 folds twice or three times).
  • Cover with cling foil and let it rest 15 minutes on the counter. Turn the dough upside down.

  • With the help of your buttered dough scraper shape your dough in a rounded bun. Make a hole in the center.
  • Put it in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until dough reaches top of pan, about 1 hour.

  • Meanwhile prepare the syrup by combining tea, water, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon stick.
  • Let boil 5 minutes and remove from the stove. When cooled a bit add the peach juice.

  • Pre-heat oven to moderate 340°F/170°C/gas mark 3. Bake the Savarin for about 40 minutes.
  • The top will turn golden brown. When the Savarin is done take it out of the oven, let it cool.

  • Remove carefully out of the pan. You can immerse it in syrup right now or you can let it dry out.
  • To immerse it in syrup, it is a good idea to place it in the mold you baked it in, not a spring-form pan.

  • Keep adding ladles of syrup until you see it along the rim of the pan. Or you can just soak it in a big bowl.
  • Once the Savarin is really well soaked carefully move it on a cooling rack positioned over a pan.

  • Let the excess syrup drip. For the glaze, mix jam and water in a saucepan and warm up.
  • When the savarin is cool and soaked, brush with glaze. For the pastry cream, bring milk and sugar to a boil.

  • In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and sugar. Add hot milk to eggs one tbs at the time to temper it.
  • Pour in the saucepan again and bring to a boil stirring constantly. When the cream thickens remove from the stove.

  • Put cling film onto the cream touching the surface and cool. Pour 1 cup (250 ml) cold heavy cream in mixer bowl.
  • Whip till it form stiff peaks. Combine with the cooled pastry cream until it gets to the right consistency.

  • Fill the Savarin hole with pastry cream and decorate with fresh fruit, candied fruit or chocolate chips/shapes.
  • You can store the dried savarin for 5 days in a closed container. If you have soaked it, cover well with cling foil.

  • Store the covered Savarin in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The soaked Savarin gains in flavor on the following day.
  • Cut into wedges and serve with extra pastry cream and fruit on the side. Makes 8-10 servings.

Daring Bakers April Challenge