Romanian Rum Cake

Banana Savarin

StockFood / Getty Images

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rising time: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 12 savarins
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
507 Calories
28g Fat
57g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 507
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 17g 85%
Cholesterol 138mg 46%
Sodium 53mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 33g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 52mg 4%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 112mg 2%
*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. 

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


For the Cake:

  • 1/4 ounce (7 grams) active dry yeast

  • 3 1/3 tablespoons (50 milliliters) milk, warm

  • 3 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces/175 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest, optional

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar, divided

  • 2 1/2 cups (600 milliliters) water

  • 3 1/3 tablespoons (50 milliliters) rum

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Garnish:

  • 2 cups (450 milliliters) heavy whipping cream

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • Apricot preserves, optional

  • Maraschino cherries, or other fruits, for garnish

Steps to Make It

To Make the Cake

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

  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 the 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 breadcrumbs or cake crumbs.

  4. Divide the dough equally into the wells of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray 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 a 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 it cool completely before adding the rum and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

To Soak the Savarinas

  1. Remove the baked cakes from the 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 return the cakes to the baking tin.

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

To Serve the Savarinas

  1. Bring the cakes to room temperature.

  2. Whip the cream and sugar until the cream holds a peak.

  3. You can either slice the 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.

  4. Enjoy.


  • 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'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.

Savarin History

As the story goes, the cake was born out of an accident: The chef to the king of Poland made a yeast-based cake called a Gugelhupf, which, unfortunately, was dry and tasteless. In a fit of anger, the king tossed the cake aside, in turn knocking over a bottle of rum which spilled onto the cake. The Gugelhupf absorbed the rum and became a tasty treat; French chefs of royalty began making it and named it after Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the renowned 18th-century French gastronome and food essayist.

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

What is the difference between baba and savarin?

There are a few differences between a baba au rhum and a savarin, including the pan it's baked in and how it is presented. While a baba typically has currants or other dried fruits in the dough, a savarin does not. 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, or babka, is baked in a fluted ring pan, making it virtually identical to a savarin in appearance.) A savarin is always served with sweetened whipped cream whereas a baba may not be.