There are various ways to make savarins and mine’s based on methods from several books and experience playing around with quantities. From one recipe I borrowed the idea of using honey as the sweetener instead of sugar. Adding softened butter the texture of hair cream (beurre pommade) appears to be a typical French method, as opposed to adding little cool pieces of butter.
What’s a savarin dough like?
It’s similar to a brioche dough but wetter and stickier. You pipe the dough into the smaller moulds so the dough should be pipeable and not as thick or elastic as a typical bread dough. It seems to have a consistency between that of choux pastry batter and a brioche dough.
Making small quantities is tricky so you usually make enough for two batches and split your dough during Stage 2, freezing half for another day. The rest you use for 8 small moulds or 1 large one.
- 10g/a third of an ounce crumbled fresh yeast (or just under 3.5g/1 teaspoon dried yeast)
- 50g/three tablespoons and a teaspoon fresh full-fat milk at room temperature
- 240g/2 scant cups cake flour or plain/all-purpose flour
- 2g/quarter teaspoon salt
- 10g/half a tablespoon runny honey
- 180g beaten eggs (3 large eggs or 3 and a half medium-large eggs) at room temperature
- 65g/4 and a half tablespoons butter softened to beurre pommade the texture of hair cream (French pâtisserie terminology)
STAGE ONE – kneading and first rise in a bowl
- Crumble the fresh yeast in the milk (which you can warm very slightly if necessary as it must be neither cold nor hot or it will kill the yeast) and whisk to dissolve and combine.
- Sift the flour into your standmixer bowl. Add the salt and honey. Use the paddle attachment to mix these for a few seconds (the hook only works if you do a larger quantity).
- Gradually add the beaten egg, mixing on low.
- Increase speed to low-medium and continue beating for around 5 minutes. The mixture should be combined and starting to come off the sides.
- Gradually add the milk and yeast, mixing between each addition and continue mixing another 5 minutes. Option: change to hook attachment now. Mix another 5 – 10 minutes.
- When the dough is coming away from the sides, add the softened butter little by little, mixing between each addition. Continue mixing another 5 minutes with dough hook.
- IMPORTANT: please be flexible, as the quantity of flour required and timings depend on your flour, environment and levels of humidity (I’ve been baking this in humid and hot Barcelona, in the summer). What you want is a dough that is softer and more flowing than your usual bread or brioche dough because you’ll be piping it into moulds. But it shouldn’t be ‘liquid’ either. Only if the mixture is very liquid, add some flour and mix another few minutes. And if it’s very dry add very little milk.
- Optionally, you can finish off by kneading the dough by hand on a smooth surface with the help of a scraper to get a better feel for the dough. It will be too sticky to knead only with your hands. So you stretch and gather with the scraper. After 5 minutes you’ll feel it’s more elastic and starting to come off your surface more easily. Again, don’t add flour unless your dough really is too liquid. You’ll get a much nicer and lighter texture if you avoid adding extra flour at this late stage. OR knead an extra 5 – 10 minutes with a dough hook on the standmixer.
STAGE TWO – second rise in mould
Place the dough on a clean flat surface and knock it down with hands and scraper to eliminate the ‘bad gas’ in it. Now divide the dough into two (storing half in the freezer tightly wrapped in plastic film). Place the other half in a disposable piping bag with a plain medium nozzle. Pipe into your 8 or so prepared savarin moulds, filling them up to a third. With a big mould (like your average bundt tin) just place the dough in the mould gently by hand and press lightly around the tin to spread it evenly. It will only fill about a fifth or quarter of your tin.Leave these to rise in a warm place (between 25°/77°F and 30°C/86°F) until the savarins double in size. This takes 30 minutes to an hour for the small savarins. For my big savarin, made with defrosted dough, it took longer: from 1 to 2 hours. During the last part of this second rise, for small individual savarins preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (static, non-convection oven) or 180°C/350°F (fan-assisted). For the large single savarin preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (static, non-convection oven) or 160°C/320°F (fan-assisted). 30 MINUTES TO 1 HOUR LATER (MORE IN A COOL HOUSE) … AND MORE FOR A BIG SAVARIN
STAGE THREE – baking
Bake small individual savarins for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown. An inserted skewer should come out clean. A big savarin takes 30-40 mins. Mine took 30 minutes and only rose to about half-way up the bundt mould, but the texture was fine. It was slightly closer, which was perfect for soaking.
P.S. You could make Babajitos – Mojito rum babas with them!