Saturday, April 27, 2013

Almond Glazed Orange Chamomile Savarin

Savarin (pronounced "saw-vaw-raw"): a rich yeast cake baked in a ring mold and soaked in a flavored syrup, typically with rum or kirsch. 

April '13 Daring Baker's Challenge:  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! 

This pretty dessert bread involves several components and eventually comes together into a rich, moist, sweet treat suitable for a holiday party.  I thought "yikes!" at the amount of time involved, but decided to spread the process over a few days and it was really no sweat!

Day 1 was all about making the bread.  I did this by hand, which was a trip because it's one of those really wet doughs that calls for lots of egg and butter and is mixed for ages.  There are several rise times and once the bread has baked, it's best left sitting out to dry for a day or two so the bread will better soak up the flavored syrup you'll be drenching it in.

On Day 1, I also made the orange chamomile syrup so it would be cooled and ready to pour over the bread the next day.

Day 2 was the easiest.  After soaking the cake in syrup, I mixed up an almond honey glaze for the cake and prepared an orange fluff filling.

This filling is based on a frosting recipe that I use a lot.  The texture is so perfect for so many things and I can never quite describe it.  Basically, the fact that it is made using a cooked milk and flour roux causes it to have a sturdy creamy texture.  Like a heavy whipped cream that you can almost chew, that won't deflate or weep.  It's amazing.

Day 3 involved assembly, which I anticipated would be a chore.  Not so, it turned out.  I sectioned some oranges in no time, toasted up some almonds and threw it together just in time for dinner.

Of course, I had no time to make a real dinner, so we basically ate an Almond Glazed Orange Chamomile Savarin for supper this night.  No complaints here!

Here, you will find chronological step by step instructions that explain how I made my Savarin by hand over the course of 3 days.  I chose the hand method because I prefer it* but you may use a paddle attachment on a mixer on low if you prefer.  You will see a note in the bread recipe at the only point that there may be a difference in mixing time.  You may also cram all steps into one or two days if you like, but the flavor is said to be better if you allow the bread to dry before soaking and allow the soak to rest a day before assembling.

*Admittedly, I achieved 2 blisters on my hands with this method.  If I had another shot, I would still use the hand method but I would wear gloves on the 15 minute mix.  Maybe I'm crazy...

Almond Glazed Orange Chamomile Savarin
Serves 10.  To see Natalia's original DB post with lots of photos, click here!  (In her recipe, you will learn to make a Peach Soaked Savarin filled with Vanilla Chantilly.)

Day 1
Making the Bread

About 2½ cups bread flour, divided
2 tablespoons water, lukewarm
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 tablespoon orange zest (from one large orange)
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and sliced into about 6 pieces
¼ cup butter for greasing the work surface, hands, putty knife/bench scraper & baking pan

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons water and 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast.  Cover and let rise for one hour.

After about 30 minutes, place 6 egg whites in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually adding 2 cups of flour until you have a smooth, soft and very sticky dough.  Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes.

Add the bubbly yeast mix and orange zest to the egg white dough along with a tablespoon of flour and start mixing with a spoon in a steady circular motion.  When it starts to wad up around the spoon, add one yolk and stir.  As soon as the yolk is mostly absorbed into the dough (less than half a minute of stirring), add one tablespoon of flour.

Add the second yolk and the sugar and as soon as the yolk is absorbed, add one tablespoon of flour.  Add the third yolk and the salt and as soon as the yolk is absorbed, add one tablespoon of flour.

Add the remaining 3 yolks, one at the time, each with a tablespoon of flour.  Each addition of egg and flour only takes about a half minute of stirring.

Continue stirring the dough in a steady circular motion until the dough until is smooth and elastic and sticks to the sides of the bowl in threads. This steps takes a few minutes.  

Add the pats of butter and mix, squashing the butter on the sides of the bowl to help smooth it out.  As soon as the butter is mostly absorbed, add the last tablespoon of flour.

Continue mixing vigorously for 15 to 20 minutes or until the dough is smooth and sticking to the sides of the bowl in thin sheets (or passing the "window pane test").  If you are using a mixer with a paddle attachment, it will take about 10 minutes to develop the proper amount of gluten.  By hand, it will take about 15, or more if you take a lot of breaks.  Your arms will get tired.  I sat in a chair holding the mixing bowl between my knees, switching hands every so often, moving clockwise with the left and counter clockwise with the right.

Cover the dough and let rise until it has tripled in volume (2 to 3 hours).

Prepare a 10-inch bundt baking pan (mine is about 10 inches by 3.5 inches high) by buttering it very carefully, yet not leaving excess clumps of butter on it.  Grease a wide putty knife (or bench scraper), your hands and your work surface with butter. Place the dough on the greased surface and fold over on itself in all directions using the putty knife 10 to 15 times. Turn your bowl upside down over it to rest for 15 minutes on the counter.

Turn the dough upside down and with the help of your buttered putty knife shape your dough in a rounded bun.  Make a hole in the center with your thumb and put it in the prepared pan.  This may not be so easy, but don't worry.  Once it's in the pan, gently shape it evenly.  Cover and let rise until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).  

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Let the Savarin cool, then remove carefully from the pan.  Slice a couple inches off the rounded top of the bread so the bread will sit flat on a serving platter.  Set the bread on a cooling rack out in the open to let it dry out (so it will lose some of its moisture that will be replaced by the syrup) overnight or up to 2 days.  I left mine sit overnight uncovered, then covered it in a towel for one more half-day.

Making the Orange Chamomile Syrup

2 cups boiling water
2 bags or 2 teaspoons chamomile tea
2 cups orange juice
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup honey

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, then remove from heat.  Add tea bags to the water and let steep for 7 minutes.  Squeeze the tea bags to release flavor and discard.  Add juice, sugar and honey to the tea and return to a boil on the stovetop.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then cool completely.

Day 2
Soaking the Bread

To immerse the Savarin in syrup, place it in the mold you baked it in and slowly pour the Orange Chamomile Syrup over the bread. Let the Savarin soak for about 5 minutes, then carefully move it to a cooling rack positioned over a sheet pan, sliced side down, to let the excess syrup drip off.  Leave the soaked bread sit overnight, covered in plastic wrap, to gain flavor.

Preparing the Orange Fluff Filling

1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sugar (not powdered)
4 tablespoons butter (room temp)
3 ounces cream cheese (room temp)

Whisk milk and flour together in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once it warms, whisk vigorously until it is so thick you struggle to get your whisk through it. Put the pan of paste in a bowl of ice water to cool it completely. Once cool, whisk in the vanilla, almond and orange extracts.

Using an electric mixer on high, mix together the butter and sugar for one minute. Add cream cheese and mix for one minute. Add the cooled milk paste and mix for 3 minutes.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Making the Almond Glaze

4 tablespoons almond paste
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
Process in a mini food processor until smooth, or whisk until smooth.  If whisking, the paste may be difficult to smooth out unless you smash clumps with the back of spoon, but it will eventually come together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Day 3
Sectioning the Oranges

Cut the top of an orange off so that the orange flesh is visible. Cut off the same amount from the bottom so that the orange sits flat.  Cut the outer peel and pith off from top to bottom, curving the knife to the shape of the orange. Repeat all the way around until all you have left is a completely orange ball.  Next, slice out the flesh from in between the membranes, placing your knife as close to the white membrane as possible, and slicing to the core. If you follow the membrane, you’ll be cutting out perfect little fleshy wedges of orange.

Toasting the Almonds

Place about 1/2 cup sliced almonds in a single layer in a skillet over medium heat.  Heat for several minutes, tossing and shaking the pan here and there, until you can see the nuts browning and smell them toasting.  Watch them very closely, as they will go from perfectly toasted to burnt rather quickly.  Remove from the pan to cool before use.

Assembling the Savarin

Place the syrup soaked Savarin, cut side down, on a serving platter.  Brush the Savarin with Almond Glaze.  Fill the hollow center of the bread with Orange Fluff Filling.  Decorate the top of the bread with orange sections and toasted almond slices, as desired.  Slice and serve in wedges with a bit of filling and toppings on the plate.



  1. Oh, what a good idea using chamomile tea instead of ice tea!

  2. Hannah this is gorgeous! I love roux-based frosting too :)

  3. Sounds and looks delicious!!

  4. Great job on the everything here. Love the frosting and its totally yuuuuuuuuuummm :)

  5. That is just beautiful!

  6. Wow Hannah! Your photography is stunning! And that cake is gorgeous! Have a great weekend!

  7. Beautiful savarin! I love your step by step photos. I'm so glad yours turned out so well. Nice job on the challenge!

  8. It looks delicious! Great job on the challenge! :)

  9. What an outstanding beautiful cake!!! Love it :)

  10. Hi! I’m new follower of your blog and would like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

    I hope you can make it!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick


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