The Savarin/Baba Cake Recipe


The French gateau Savarin (also known as Baba)is a boozy French yeasted and syrup-drenched cake. Yet, Egypt has got its alcohol-free version.

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Savarin Patisserie 

According to the book French, Savarin was created by the Parisian patisseries  “Auguste Julien” in honor of a renowned French politician, lawyer, and gastronome, Jean-Anthelme Brillat Savarin.

You might be wondering, how did this French patisserie landed in the Egyptian’s repertoire of cakes?!

Savarin or Baba in Egypt 

Those who are questioning the lifestyle in Egypt centuries ago should glimpse at its cuisine. It explains it all.

Growing up in Alexandria, Egypt, I was lucky to watch the pleasant traces of a bygone cosmopolitan era, when Alexandria used to be a safe Heaven for various western expat communities such as Greek, Italian and Armenian, just to name few.

The salient contributions of those European expats enriched the economic, social and cultural life and had its inevitable, vast impact on the country’s gastronomy.

Gateau de Savarin or Baba as known in Egypt is one of the beautiful traces of Italian and French influence on Egyptian bakery.

Savarin/Baba a La Egyptienne 

As a child, my grandparents used to treat me almost every weekend at a fine western bakery.  My favorite was “Manna.”  My guess is that it was founded by an Italian artisan who later sold it to a local Egyptian who successfully managed to sustain both the spotless reputation and the immaculate quality of its products.

At Manna’s, a plethora of mind-blowing and freshly made gateaux were aesthetically showcased.  They were individual yet sizeable cakes, and choosing one, among many tempting ones, was an exciting challenge that always held a nice surprise at the end.  After so many trips over the years to the same bakery, I had finally identified a favorite: Savarin (also known as Baba).

My childhood gateau de Savarin, as I knew it, was a syrupy and airy yeast individual cake, horizontally split in half to encase juicy, fresh seasonal fruits topped by a tangy cloud of whipped crème fraîche.

Syrup Soaked Dessert 

Traditionally, Savarin should be soaked in a simple syrup mixed with Rum.  Yet, for religious reasons, only the non-alcoholic version was found in Egyptian bakeries.

Years away from my home town and country of origin, I watched how Savarin has morphed into some sort of remote sweet memory, up until a God-sent cookbook brought it back to life.  

How to Make Gateau Savarin/BABA 

 “FRENCH, The Secrets of Classic Cooking Made Easy”,offers a flawless recipe for an authentic Savarin/Baba.

FRENCH is the book I strongly recommend to aficionados of French cooking techniques. It is a simplified and detailed guide (in English) of all the classic of French cuisine in English.  I owned that book for over 10 years, yet I keep going back to it to check French techniques and recipes.

All you need to make savoring is a few simple ingredients found in the pantry of a casual baker. The cake is made of an eggy dough like brioche that is left to rise and then baked.

Once the baked cake is cooled, it is drenched in simple syrup.

Traditionally, Savarin or Baba cake is drenched with a simple syrup infused with liquor such as Grand Mariner. However, the Egyptian version is alcohol -free.

Instead of liquor the simple syrup could be infused with floral notes such as rose blossom or warm notes as cardamom, cinnamon and cloves notes for an alcohol.

Mini Savarin/Baba is the Perfect Grand Finale

Since then, Savarin became a celebrated grand finale to many formal and informal dinners chez moi.

Individual Savarin baked in mini bundt mold.

For formal dinners, I prefer baking it in individual mini bundt molds.   I serve it, nested in a pool of boozy syrup and decorated with fresh red fruits.  A non-alcoholic and family-friendly version is possible, as orange juice could substitute liqueur.

In my recipe below, I added two whole cloves and Cointreau (orange liqueur) instead of Kirsh (cherry liqueur) to my simple syrup.  Additionally, I mixed in the batter some orange zest to enjoy a refreshing aroma when the cake is baked.

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Adapted from “FRENCH, The Secrets of French Classic Recipes Made Easy”

Serves 6-8


For the cake

  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast 
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar, divided
  • Warm water
  • 2  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, beaten 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Fresh fruits to decorate
  • 1 1/4 whipping cream, sweetened to taste and whipped to serve 

For the syrup

  • 1 1/4 cup caster sugar 
  • 2 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 whole cloves 
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
  • For the glaze:
  • Orange jam, melted


1-  Add the yeast, water and one tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl.  Stir and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap.  Keep in a warm place for a few minutes until frothy.

2- Butter or oil spray a 9-inch ring mold or 12 individual mini-ring molds.  Add the flour, and remaining superfine sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  With the machine running, slowly add the yeast mixture, beaten eggs, orange zest, and vanilla extract.  Scrape down the sides and continue mixing until a soft and elastic dough forms.  Add the butter and pulse about 10 minutes, until all the butter is incorporated.

3- Place pieces of the dough spaced in the mold to allow space for the rising dough.  Tap the mold gently to release any air bubbles.  Cover with a dishtowel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.  The dough should double in volume and come to the top of the mold. 

4- Place the cake on a baking sheet and put it in a preheated 200° oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 180° and bake for 25 minutes or until the top has a rich golden color and springs back when touched.  Unmold the cake onto a wire rack and let it cool down.

5- Make the Syrup. Mix the sugar, water, orange juice, cloves and bring to a simmer for few minutes until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and let the bubbly syrup set for few minutes and then add the Cointreau.

6- Pour the hot syrup over the cake while it is still warm. 

7-  Melt some orange jam on low heat and brush the cake with it to give it a shiny vibrant look.

8- Serve the cake cold with whipped cream and decorate it with fresh fruits.


  • According to “Bake with Julia Book”, the difference between Savarin cake and Baba Au Rum is that the latter has raisins in it.
  • Serving some extra boozy syrup next to the cake always makes guests happy.

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4 thoughts on “The Savarin/Baba Cake Recipe

  1. Hi nermine. Happy January. I’m trying to make a flan cake and the attempts are disastrous. I remembered you told me that you’ve made it before. My issue is that the custard and cake batters do not separate. Any hints on what is the trouble? Thank you.

    1. Hi Nancy, with pleasure. Please send me the recipe you used so I would be able to help and a pic of the cake if you still have it.

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