Romanian Rum Cake

Banana Savarin

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  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Rising time: 60 mins
  • Yield: 12 savarins (12 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
486 Calories
26g Fat
54g Carbs
10g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 savarins (12 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 486
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 34%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 116mg 39%
Sodium 545mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 54g 20%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 10g
Calcium 107mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Romanian recipe for savarin (savarina in Romanian) is virtually identical to French baba au rhum and Polish ponczowa (a rum-soaked babka). 

It is made with a sweet yeast dough which is soaked in a rum syrup overnight after baking. Then, it's either filled with pastry cream or topped with sweetened whipped cream and garnished with fresh fruit or, at the very least, a maraschino cherry. 

Before you begin, bear in mind that in order for this cake to soak up all the rum syrup, it needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight, so the cake cannot be prepared and served on the same day.

It can be baked in a mini Bundt cake pan, which will yield 6 large individual cakes, or in regular cupcake tins for 12 smaller cakes.

It's best to weigh all the ingredients on a digital scale with metric measurements to make sure the proportions of your ingredients are accurate. Sometimes straight conversions from metric produce unwieldy American measurements as evidenced here.

Ingredients

  • For the Cake:
  • 1/4 ounce/7grams yeast (active dry)
  • 1.7 ounces/50 milliliters milk (warm)
  • 12.35 ounces/350 grams flour (all-purpose)
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • .53 ounces/15 grams sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6.17 ounces/175 grams butter (unsalted, room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 tablespoon zest (lemon)
  • For the Rum Syrup:
  • 10.58 ounces/300 grams sugar
  • 20.29 ounces/600 milliliters water
  • 1.69 ounces/50 milliliters rum
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For the Garnish:
  • 15.22 ounces/450 milliliters cream (heavy whipping )
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional: Apricot preserves
  • Garnish: Maraschino cherries or other fruits

Steps to Make It

To Make the Cake

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. In a large bowl or stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine flour, yeast-milk mixture, eggs, sugar, and salt. The dough will be soft and sticky, and that is perfect. 

  2. Add the softened butter, vanilla and lemon zest, if using, and mix again. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume.

  3. Heat oven to 300 F/150 C. Butter a mini Bundt pan or cupcake pan. If the pan isn't nonstick, sprinkle the buttered pan with bread or cake crumbs.

  4. Divide the dough equally into the wells of the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick tests clean. While the cakes are baking, make the rum syrup.

To Make the Rum Syrup

  1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 3.53 ounces/100 grams of sugar without stirring but occasionally swirling until it reaches a very light caramel color.

  2. Turn off the heat but leave the saucepan on the hot burner. Add the water and the remaining 7.05 ounces/200 grams of sugar. Mix and let sit until everything is melted.

  3. Let cool completely before adding rum and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

To Soak the Savarinas

  1. Remove baked cakes from pan and pour some of the syrup into the bottom of each well. Dip the bottoms of the cakes in the syrup in the saucepan and replace the cakes into the baking tin.

  2. Pour remaining syrup over the cakes until it is completely gone. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

To Serve the Savarinas

  1. Whip the cream and 4 tablespoons sugar until the cream holds a peak.

  2. Either slice cakes in half horizontally and spread the bottom half with apricot preserves and then whipped cream, replacing the top. Or, leave the cakes whole, dollop with whipped cream and garnish with maraschino cherries or other fruits.

History

This cake was named after Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the renowned 18th-century French gastronome and food essayist, lawyer, and politician. 

In Romania, savarina is a traditional dessert often served at celebratory occasions like weddings, christenings, and other happy events.

Baba vs. Savarin

The differences between a baba au rhum and a savarin are the pan it's baked in and how it is presented. A baba typically has currants or other dried fruits in the dough, and a savarin doesn't but is served with sweetened whipped cream.

Some babas are baked in tall, cylindrical molds (especially in Russia and Ukraine) and savarins are baked in fluted ring molds. In Poland, however, a baba (babka) is baked in a fluted ring pan, making it virtually identical to a savarin in appearance.

A Bit About the Romanian Language

Romanian is a romance language, not a Slavic language as is the case with the countries that surround it. As such, many words, especially culinary words, were borrowed from the other Romance languages, especially from French and Italian. So you will find that many Romanian dishes have French names or a close approximation as is the case here with savarin and savarina.