Babas and Savarins


by: Baker Guy

If you like the flavor of spirits, babas and savarins are the perfect way to make the most of hard spirits such as rum (the most traditional), whiskey Cognac, kirsch, or other fruit brandies such as eau de vie de framboise (dry raspberry brandy). Technically yeast cakes are breads, but babas and savarins, although they are unsweetened, are so cakelike in effect that they seem to belong in this chapter. Babas and savarins are French yeast breads made with the same light dough but in different shapes. Babas are baked in dariole molds-fez-shaped molds that look a little like cocktail jiggers-while savarins are baked in doughnut-shaped molds. Babas are meant for individual servings, but savarins are traditionally baked in larger molds meant to serve 6 or 8 or so. I, however, like to make miniature savarins for individual servings. If you are setting out to buy savarin or baba molds, try to buy nonstick or even silicone as the dough tends to stick. Once baked, both babas and savarins are soaked in simple syrup flavored with spirits.


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serves: 20

butter (for the molds)

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (melted)

3/4 cup sugar (for the syrup)

3/4 cup hot water

3 tablespoons or more dark rum, whiskey, Cognac, kirsch, or other fruit brandies (for the syrup)

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar (for the whipped cream)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nutrition Facts
Babas and Savarins

Servings Per Recipe: 20

Amount per Serving

Calories: 118

  • Total Fat: 5 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 3 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 30.7 mg
  • Sodium: 89 mg
  • Total Carbs: 15.5 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
  •     Sugars: 8.9 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g

how is this calculated?

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1.  Butter ten 4-ounce baba molds or 20 miniature savarin molds.

2.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly combine the flour and salt so the salt doesn’t touch the yeast. Add the eggs, yeast, sugar, and water. Beat the dough for about 8 minutes on medium speed. At first, the dough will adhere to the sides of the bowl and form strings between the paddle and the walls of the bowl. Continue beating until the dough pulls away from the sides and clings to the paddle attachment. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the inside of the bowl so all the dough gets incorporated. Add the butter and continue beating for 3 to 5 minutes, until the butter disappears.

3.  Transfer the dough to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap; the plastic should touch the dough’s surface to prevent a crust from forming but not be tucked under the dough or it will keep it from rising. Put the dough in a slightly warm place (but no warmer than 80°F or the butter will melt and ooze out of the dough) for about 1 1/2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight, or until the dough has about doubled in size.

4.  Brush the inside of the baba molds with room-temperature butter.

5.  Press down on the dough with your fist to flatten it. If making babas, fill the molds halfway with dough; if making miniature savarins, about three-quarters up. Dip your fingers in cold water to make the dough easier to work with and to prevent it from sticking to your fingers. Cover the molds loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until the dough comes almost to the top of the baba molds or slightly over the rim of the savarin molds.

6.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

7.  Bake for about 30 minutes for babas and 20 minutes for savarins, or until the dough is golden brown and has risen up out of the molds. Take one of the cakes out of its mold and lift it; it should feel light. Let the rest of the cakes cool in their molds for 5 minutes before turning them out.

8.  While the cakes are baking, make the syrup. In a bowl, combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool to just slightly warm, or chill it over a bowl of ice water, and add the rum.

9.  Pour the syrup into a bowl. Press each of the babas or savarins down into the syrup for about 1 minute, or until they are well soaked. Gently squeeze each baba or savarin several times while they're submerged in the syrup, until no more bubbles come up when you squeeze.

10.  To make the whipped cream, whip the cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract to stiff peaks and pipe or spoon it into the middle of the savarins. If you've made babas, slice them in half vertically and pipe or spoon the whipped cream over the insides. The babas and savarins can also be served plain.

Cooks' note:
A yeast cake is essentially a kind of light bread that is sweetened at the end with flavored simple syrup. If you like, it's worth experimenting with a homemade starter instead of using a straight yeast method shown here. The starter adds depth of flavor to the cake.

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