April 27, 2013

Espresso Savarin (Daring Bakers' Challenge)

Has it really been a month since my last post?!  Bad blogger!  Well, Mr. Buttercream and I are still getting settled in the new house (we're still missing some key bits of furniture) - that's my only excuse.

This month's challenge was to make Savarin, a yeasted cake that is really more of a bread.  The cake itself is pretty much all-bread, and it is then soaked in a sweet syrup and filled with something delicious. I decided to soak my Savarin in a espresso-cinnamon syrup, and fill with an espresso pastry creme.

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!

We were supposed to follow the recipe given on the Daring Bakers' site exactly for the cake/bread part of this dessert.  Boy, it took a while!  The bread needs to be worked, rise, be worked again, rise, etc. for the better part of a day.

For baking the savarin, we were supposed to use a savarin pan. Not wanting to add yet another specialty cake pan to my already-large collection, I used a 10-cup bundt pan instead.

For the espresso pastry creme, I decided to re-use my recipe from the pâte à choux swans.  The pastry creme was used to fill the hole in the middle of the cake.  Finally, I topped my cake with a chocolate drizzle and cocoa powder.

This was...not my favorite cake. As you can see in the image above, the soaking syrup got to part of the cake and not the other.  What I was left with was a cake that was either soggy or bread. As a bread, it wasn't bad at all, but it seemed weird to pair it with a sweet pastry creme.  I assume I must have done something wrong - not allowed the syrup to soak long enough perhaps?

Ah well.  My sister at least seems to like the cake - she's had it for breakfast several days this week and says it's good as a breakfast pastry.

From the recipe provided by the Daring Bakers' site. To be used with an 11-inch savarin mold (or a 10-cup bundt pan).

2½ cups (350 grams) bread flour
2 tablespoons water, lukewarm
6 eggs at room temperature, separated
1½ teaspoons yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
⅓ cup (⅔ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

  1. To make the yeast "sponge", mix the lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons of the flour and the yeast in a small bowl. Cover with cling film and let rise 60 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, place 6 egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Begin mixing at low speed with a paddle attachment.  Add bread flour slowly until the dough begins to come together (this should be about 2 cups flour).  Cover with cling film and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the cling film from the sponge and the dough. Place the sponge in the mixer bowl along with the orange zest and a tablespoon of flour.
  4. When the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl add one yolk and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add another tablespoon of flour.
  5. Add another yolk and the sugar, then as soon as the yolk is absorbed add another tablespoon of flour.
  6. Bring the speed up to medium-low.  Add another yolk and the salt, then as soon as the yolk is absorbed add another tablespoon of flour (are you getting the hang of this yet?).
  7. Add another yolk, then as soon as the yolk is absorbed add another tablespoon of flour.
  8. Repeat step 7 with the remaining two yolks.
  9. Mix the dough until it's super elastic-y.  You should see threads of dough on your paddle attachment.
  10. Add the butter to the dough. When the butter is absorbed, add a tablespoon of flour.
  11. Knead the dough with the paddle attachment until it passes the windowpane test.
  12. Cover the dough with cling film and allow it to rise until it doubles in size - about two hours. 
  13. Butter your savarin or bundt pan.
  14. Grease a work surface with butter. Knead your dough several times, and then let it rest on the surface for 15 minutes.
  15. Shape your dough into a round ball.  Poke a hole in the middle, and place it in your prepared pan.
  16. Cover with cling film and let the dough rise again until it reaches the top of the pan (about an hour).
  17. Preheat your oven to 340° F.  Bake the savarin for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  18. Once the savarin is out of the oven, spoon all of the espresso syrup into the savarin pan.  Leave it there for a while (about a half-hour).
  19. Place a cooling rack over a plate. Turn your savarin over onto the cooling rack. Left-over syrup will drip onto the plate. Be careful here - I made a big mess and got syrup all over my kitchen.
  20. To serve your savarin, spoon espresso pastry creme into the center hole.
Espresso Syrup

4 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 shots (½ cup) fresh espresso
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix the water, sugar, espresso, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil.
  2. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. 
  3. Mix in the vanilla and coffee liqueur.
Espresso Pastry Creme

1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks, well beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved into 2 teaspoons water (for the coffee variation)

  1. Whisk together the gelatin, sugar, and flour in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add the yolks and milk.  Turn the heat to medium-low and stir constantly.
  3. When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon or spatula (approximately 10 minutes), remove it from the heat and filter it through a strainer into a bowl.
  4. Add the espresso powder dissolved into the water and whisk to combine.
  5. Cover the surface with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.
  6. After the 45 minutes has elapsed, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Remove the cooked mixture from the refrigerator and fold into the whipping cream (if it doesn't fold in nicely, go ahead and beat it in) until smooth.
  7. The creme can be refrigerated, just make sure to beat it with a whisk when it's removed to return it to a smooth texture.


  1. Your savarin looks amazing! I love that special form of your bundt cake pan.

  2. It certainly looks impressive on the outside! :)

  3. This looks beautiful :) Great job on the challenge! :)

  4. Your cake is beautiful! Nicely done.

  5. Awww, too bad that the cake didn't soak properly! It looks incredible - just reading the description made me want to lick my computer screen.

  6. Holy Cow that cake is BEAUTIFUL

  7. I didn't get a chance to do this challenge, but it seems like it was a doozy! Love the flavor profile you chose, and even if you didn't love it - its very pretty! :)

  8. I am CRAVING this savarin!!! Such a great idea!!! Congrats! Beautiful photos too!

  9. AnonymousMay 09, 2013

    Too bad about the soaking syrup because this looks dynamite!


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