Ready for a show stopper of a cake?
The weather in my area has been crazy. So when our Easter plans were ruined due to weather, we made lemons out of lemonade and decided to visit for my mom’s birthday instead. I was excited because that meant I would get to make her a birthday cake!
My mom’s favorite cake is a from-scratch orange cake…that I don’t have the recipe for…
So I was searching for orange cakes and found a recipe for Savarin.
Savarin originally comes from France. It is unique in that it uses yeast rather than baking powder to give it airiness. It is also incredibly dry until it is soaked with syrup (containing various amounts of rum, depending how the baker is inclined).
I was fascinated, and decided to give it a try. Plus it reminded me of a book I’d just read for a book club, Champagne Widows.
In Champagne Widows, Veuve Clicquot, a French window and champagne-maker, is described as being very fond of sweets. I’d like to imagine that a Savarin might have graced her table a time or two.
Here’s my Goodreads review:
Champagne Widows: First Woman of Champagne, Veuve Clicquot by Rebecca Rosenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a fascinating historical fiction including Napoleon and the beginnings of Veuve Clicquot champagne, but I only gave it 3 stars for a couple reasons:
1. It was written in first person. I find this tense jarring. I almost gave up on the book (I likely would have had it not been for a book club) before it finally took off.
2. I feel very skeptical when actual historical figures (in this case Napoleon, since I wasn't familiar with Madam Clicquot prior to this book) are point of view characters. I appreciated that some of Napoleon's actual letter were included for authenticity, but the rest left me wondering how much is fact and how much in conjecture. And since the author was fabricating so much of Napoleon, how much of Madam Clicquot's life was fictionalized? Note: I was able to verify quite a bit online but other thing like "le nez", and details about her family (other than her father) are not as easily found.
3. "The Red Man". What the actual?!? From what I can tell, "the little red man" is some fictionalized ghost or demon that haunts France (but I could be wrong, don't quote me). I think it was meant to be metaphorical, but just ended up confusing and off-putting and left me questioning the integrity of the other stories are are presented as historical though clearly quite fictionalized.
In summary, I guess I prefer a historical fiction that is either clearly historical and a little fiction (like the middle grade series: I Survived) or books that are clearly fictional but take the reader into a historical time period but don't usually interact with historical figures (like the first Outlander book).
This one was some sort of mis-mash. I don't mind researching historical fiction after I read, but I'd rather be satisfying my thirst for more knowledge than trying to find out if Madam Clicquot really had a magic nose and if her house keeper really knew a king.
View all my reviews
Guests were a bit skeptical at first, but ended up loving the cake. The syrup made the cake perfectly moist. The orangy cake plus the berry and cream topping were the perfect flavor combination and the cake was enjoyed by all!
I am also linking to Foodies Read
Orange Savarin Cake
Adapted from Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking
¼ cup milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
1 teaspoon yeast
¼ cup sugar
Zest from 1 orange
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
Juice from 2 oranges (I got ¾ cup)
1 - 1 ¼ cups water (to make a total of 2 cups when combined with orange juice
Zest from 1 orange
2 tablespoons rum (I used Captain Morgan)
Fresh fruit (I used black berries and strawberries)
Place the milk, yeast, and a bit of the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to combine and set aside until foamy.
Add the remaining sugar, flour, zest, eggs, and salt. Use the paddle attachment to mix into a thick batter. While the mixer is still running, add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing for 5 minutes or until smooth and combined.
Grease a bundt pan with nonstick spray. Pour the batter into the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm area to rise for 2 hours or until the batter has risen ¾ of the way up the sides of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the cake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
While the cake bakes, make the syrup. Place the water, orange juice, zest, sugar, and rum into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Cool, and remove the zest.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Flip the cake onto a wire rack or plate. Place a cup of syrup into the pan, then place the cake back into the pan to soak up the syrup. Poke the bottom of the cake with a skewer. Slowly pour the remaining syrup over the bottom of the cake until it is absorbed.
Cool completely, then flip out of the pan and onto a serving plate. Wrap well in plastic wrap overnight as the syrup continues to absorb.
To serve, top with fresh berries and whipped cream. I used toothpicks to place the berries decoratively around the cake.