Gâteau Savarin

Gâteau Savarin

Gâteau Savarin, a classic French sponge cake, was invented by Parisian pâtissier Auguste Julien in 1845. It is basically a rum baba baked in a circular (ring) pan.

The cake is named in honour of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), a French politician, lawyer and gastronome, who also has a cheese named after him.

Monsieur Brillat-Savarin is notably famous as the author of “Physiologie du goût” (translated in English as The Physiology of Taste), published anonymously in 1825 and considered one of the founding texts of gastronomy.

The book, an eclectic treatise on food and eating, has never been out of print since it first came out nearly two centuries ago.

Gâteau Savarin

Born in Bellay (Ain department), Brillat-Savarin studied law, chemistry and medicine, eventually becoming mayor of his hometown. During the Terror that followed the Revolution he was forced to flee France and spent several years in exile, in Switzerland, Holland and the United States.

In America, he supported himself by giving French lessons and teaching violin, before returning to France in 1797.

There are several variations of the rum-soaked sponge cake that bears his name, typically served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

My favourite is the “quick” version, found in the “bible” of French cooking, Je sais cuisiner, by Ginette Mathiot (available in English as I Know How to Cook).

It’s a simple recipe but the result is a very elegant dessert!

Savarin Rapide

(Adapted from Je sais cuisiner, by Ginette Mathiot)

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) flour
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 11 grams (1/2 ounce) baking powder

Directions

  1. Separate the eggs and set yolks and whites aside.
  2. Add yolks to sugar in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks are obtained.
  4. Dissolve baking powder in a little bit of milk (around 5 tablespoons). Add beaten egg whites to egg yolk/sugar mixture, flour and baking powder dissolved in milk and mix well.
  5. Pour into buttered ring cake pan.
  6. Bake 15 minutes (or until done) at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F).
  7. Turn out onto a wire rack placed over a baking tray and drench with rum sauce while still hot.
  8. Carefully transfer to a plate and fill with sliced and sugared strawberries. Pour any remaining sauce over fruit.

Rum sauce

Ingredients

  • 500 ml (17 fluid ounces) water
  • 125 grams (4.4 ounces) sugar
  • 200 ml (7 fluid ounces) rum

Directions

  1. Heat the water, sugar and rum in a saucepan. Remove from heat just before the mixture begins to boil.
  2. Pour over still-hot Savarin immediately after removing from oven.

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