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Cakes

Classic French Savarin Cake

4.75 from 4 votes
My Savarin cake recipe is bright and beautiful — and what makes it special is the use of yeast to keep it light and airy.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHAT YOU GET: A bright and beautiful Savarin cake recipe that is just the right thing for a special treat. It uses yeast but is very easy to work with.

This classic French Savarin cake is is a yeasted cake, unlike a typical sponge cake. The yeast gives it an incredibly light texture — perfect for soaking up the sweet and tart lemon liqueur-infused syrup. 

This ring-shaped cake is perfect for those who want a nice, balanced dessert. The cake isn’t too sweet, which means it lends itself perfectly to showcase the flavors of the syrup as well as the fresh fruit and homemade whipped cream. The cake will also seem a bit dry, which means that syrup is 100 percent necessary, so don’t be shy! 

As a note, this recipe does need you to plan ahead as the cake needs to rise! 

What Is A Yeast Cake? 

A yeast cake is a cake that uses yeast instead of other leavening agents, such as baking soda and baking powder, to give it its lift. As a result, you’re left with a cake that is lighter, a little less sweet, that has an almost bread-like aroma. To help flavor this classic savarin cake, I like to add a lemony syrup, which the fluffy cake will soak up. 

What Is The Difference Between Using Baking Soda And Baking Powder Compared To Yeast?

Using baking powder and baking soda is a relatively new technique, as they were just invented in the 1800s. In comparison, humans have been using yeast to make bread and alcohol for over 5,000 years. While bakers still depend on yeast to make bread, when it comes to cake, baking powder and baking soda have become the go-to because there’s no need to wait for the cake to rise. 

We don’t usually call cakes “yeast cakes,” but you’ll notice that more traditional cakes are made with yeast, such as panettone and, of course, this savarin cake! 

Tools You Need To Make Classic French Savarin Cake

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Medium saucepan
  • 9-inch (23cm) bundt pan or savarin mold
  • Stand mixer or hand mixer
  • Mixing bowls

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making French Savarin Cake

  • Don’t shy away from the amount of syrup in this recipe. The cake itself does not have much sugar, and the syrup is necessary to add flavor and moisture.
  • Limoncello is a sweet, lemony liquor from the south of Italy. If you wish, you can substitute a different lemon or orange liquor but if you do, depending on your preference.
  • Taste the syrup and make any adjustments to the amount of sugar and lemon juice. For a flavor variation, you can use Meyer lemons.
  • I use instant yeast in this recipe which does not have to be proofed. Check the label to make sure that you are using the correct type of yeast.
  • The cake will need a warm place to rise. If your kitchen is very cold, turn on your oven for just a minute or two, then make sure to turn the oven off and place the cake in there to rise.
  • If you have time, make this cake the day before you intend to serve it. Wrap it well and let it rest a full 24 hours at room temperature for the cake to absorb all of the syrup evenly. Garnish with whipped cream and fruit just before serving.

Learn new skills and level up your baking in the Bold Baking Academy — now open for subscription, featuring the Bold Baking Concierge for direct access to Gemma & her team for all your baking help.

Classic French Savarin Cake

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours rising time Bake time: 20-25 minutes Yield: 12 servings
Author: Gemma Stafford
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours rising time Bake time: 20-25 minutes Yield: 12 servings
Author: Gemma Stafford

Ingredients

For the Syrup

  • cups (12oz/340g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8floz/240ml) water
  • ½ cup (4floz/120ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup (4floz/120ml) limoncello

For the Cake:

  • cups (12½ oz/355g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (2oz/57g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (2floz/60ml) whole milk
  • 6 large eggs , at room temperature
  • Zest from one orange
  • Zest from one lemon
  • ¾ cup (6oz/180g) butter, softened
  • Garnish
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • Fresh berries and segmented oranges

Instructions

  • Make the lemon syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and limoncello and warm until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and set aside.
  • Make the cake: Butter and flour a 9-inch (23cm) bundt pan or savarin mold. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle or in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
  • Add the milk, eggs and zest and beat for about five minutes to make a thick batter.
  • While continuously beating, add the butter about one tablespoon at a time until the batter is smooth and shiny.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to let rise for an hour.
  • After an hour, punch the dough down all over, cover and let rise for another hour, until the batter has risen to about ¾ of the way up the sides of the pan.
  • At the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Remove the plastic and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the savarin is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • After the cake has rested in the pan for 10 minutes, carefully turn out onto a plate.
  • Pour half of the syrup into the pan and carefully return the cake to the pan.
  • With a skewer, poke many holes into the cake all the way through and pour the remaining syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely while soaking in the syrup.
  • Once the cake is cool, transfer to a serving plate
  • Whip the cream to soft peaks and pile about half of the cream into the center of the cake. Place the remaining cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe stars decoratively over the top of the cake.
  • Top the cream with fresh berries and segmented oranges and serve.Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Ungarnished cake can be stored in the cake pan, well wrapped and at room temperature for up to three days.
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Emily
Emily
6 months ago

Hi Gemma! Is the alcohol cooked off in the sugar syrup, or would one have to bring it to a full boil to cook it off? I have a family member who cannot consume alcohol due to medications they are on, but this cake looks delicious!

Julia
Julia
6 months ago

Very excited to try this recipe

Jane Lowe
Jane Lowe
6 months ago

I think my instant yeast was perhaps too old, although not past the due date. The cake did not rise properly and the end result was a much denser cake than I had expected. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions whether this is likely the issue? Also I did not use an alcohol based syrup as kids were having this along with adults and I wondered if the lack of alcohol would have any impact? Thanks so much for any thoughts!

Darlene
Darlene
6 months ago

This looks so yummy. Do you think this recipe would work using bundtlette pans?

Pauline
Pauline
6 months ago

This looks absolutely amazing. Is there an eggless version for this cake?

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Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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