For my readers daily dose of humor, I offer up my attempt at a savarin. For those who are wondering, a savarin is a syrup soaked yeast cake stuffed with cream filling, and this post is brought to you courtesy of a challenge issued by the Daring Bakers. The challenge description can be found below:
Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenges us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes!
Before starting this challenge, I wandered around my work place asking colleagues what their favorite flavor pairings were….the winners- either chocolate and raspberry or chocolate and strawberry. Since I was allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, I decided to try to soak my cake in raspberry syrup and stuff it with chocolate mousse. With that game plan in mind, lets get started.
WARNING: This part along will take 5-6 hours! Plan ahead – do not start at 8:40 and finish just before 4 in the morning when you have work the next day (unlike one knuckle head I know)
2.5 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
6 eggs – separated and at room temp
1.5 teaspoons yeast (instant)
4 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup butter – at room temp
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
Putting it all together:
1. In a small bowl mix the water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons flour. Cover and let rise for 60 minutes.
2. At the 30 minute mark, put your egg whites in a bowl and beat, adding flour until a soft dough forms (should take about 2 cups and stick to the bowl). Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
3. Add the yeast solution to the egg whites with one tablespoon of flour and the lemon zest. Mix at a low speed until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.
4. Alternate adding egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of flour until all the egg yolks are incorporated.
5. Add the salt and the sugar. Mix well.
6. Mix in the butter – you may choose to do this with a mixer if you’ve got a pretty strong one. Personally I found that my wimpy little hand mixer was getting whooped by this dough, so I opted for the old fashioned do it by hand method. A couple of tips here: While it is very fun to play with this dough, it sticks to everything, so make sure to liberally butter your hands before plunging in. Don’t be afraid to apply more butter if the dough starts to stick.
Continue mixing until you can pull the dough away and have it not break (it should form a translucent “windowpane”).
7.Cover the dough and leave it in a warm place to proof for 2-3 hours (until doubled or tripled in size).
8. Butter the pan that you are planning on baking this in (typically this will be a pan with a hole in the middle – think bundt- but other styles can be used if this is unavailable).
9. Place the dough on a buttered surface and fold over it’s self ~ 5 times. Using an envelope fold here insures that all edges get stretched and folded. Allow this to rest for 15 minutes.
10. Using your fingers, poke a hole in the center of your dough lump. Gently transfer the dough to the buttered pan.
11. Cover, place in a warm spot and allow to rise for 1-2 hours, or until the dough completely fills the pan.
12. Bake in a 340°F for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
13. Allow to cool then pop it out of the pan.
14. Now you have to soak the cake in syrup. You can do this when it’s hot, or after it cools, doesn’t really matter. Actually that’s a lie. If you’re using a thicker syrup, like me, start soaking this thing while it’s hot and while the syrup is hot – you’ll have a better chance of infiltrating the cake then. If you’re using a thin syrup this is less important. The only other note I’ll add is that this should really be done in a large bowl with something to weight the cake down – that way the syrup can infiltrate from all sides.
15. Once soaked, remove from syrup and allow to drip dry.
16. Stuff with chocolate mousse, garnish with whipped cream and either fresh strawberries or raspberries and you’re done! Enjoy!
Issues I had during this experiment:
The syrup I made for this recipe ended up being more of a sauce and less of a syrup…aka it was way to thick. This meant that even after a full day of sitting on top of the cake, it only soaked in a half inch or so. Eventually I got so fed up that I sliced the cake in half, tossed on the rest of the raspberry mix, and added extra mousse and a whipped cream shell to help mask any remaining dryness.
Timing. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and do this on a weekend when you’ve got plenty of free time. I ended up not going to bed till 3 or 4 in the morning trying to put this thing together because I tried it during the work week and it made my life so much more stressful than it needed to be. Learn from my lessons – thin syrup, time strategy.
Things that went well:
The combination of the chocolate, raspberries, and lemon (juice in the syrup, zest in the cake) paired beautifully. Even the bits of the cake that were a bit dry were saved by that lemon flavor. The people I fed it to gave a variety of review from “it’s not what I was expecting” to “spot on” and “best thing I’ve eaten in months” (my favorite compliment because it was given by a coworker who happened to be celebrating a birthday when I showed up with cake). Over all, a challenge that I had a lot of fun with, even if I didn’t get much sleep.