It takes time and trouble to breed Thoroughbreds that are good enough to win the English and French Derbys, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. It takes time and trouble as well to make a dessert worthy of the name of Brillat-Savarin, 19th century author of The Physiology of Taste. Suzy Volterra, a Parisian sportswoman famous for her victories on the turf and noted among friends for her prerace luncheons, knows that the results are worth the trouble in both cases. Her horses have won all the races mentioned above, and her favorite dessert is savarin—a breadlike sweet cake raised with yeast, baked in a ring mold and doused with rum syrup.
By substituting a mechanical beater for the traditional elbow grease, Suzy's cook, Berthe, has managed to take some of the trouble but little of the time out of making this very special dessert. In the Volterra household the savarin is served with an extra special touch—a garnish aux cerises √† la Chantilly (with cherries and whipped cream) to match the Volterra racing silks, which are cerise and white.
Break eggs into bowl of mechanical kitchen mixer. Measure all other cake ingredients and place in handy containers.
Sprinkle dry yeast (along with the teaspoon of sugar to aid action of the yeast) into a cup of very warm (about 110°) water and stir rapidly.
Cut up the¼ pound and extra pat of butter and heat gently in small heavy pan or double boiler until butter is a lukewarm mass. Now stir or whisk in the 3 tablespoons of sugar combined with the milk, vanilla and salt; remove from heat and add the yeast mixture. Keep pan barely warm at side of stove.
Beat eggs in mixer bowl at speed 3 for a couple of minutes. Add flour gradually; then, at lower speed, butter-milk-yeast mixture. Turn mixer up to speed 8 and beat for 5 minutes. The result should be a perfectly smooth batter.
Remove mixer bowl; cover with clean cloth and set to rise in draftless, warm place, such as the stove top with top burners turned off but oven turned on.
Let rise till dough has doubled in bulk (about one hour). Meanwhile, thoroughly and lavishly butter a large French ring mold (holding about 2½ quarts) or two standard American ring molds (holding 1¼ quarts each). Use cold butter. Dust lightly with flour; keep molds cool. When dough has risen, transfer it to molds, filling half full. Cover and let dough rise again in molds, in same warm place as above, for approximately 35 minutes or till doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375° on rack in middle of the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or till a toothpick put in spongy cake mixture comes out clean. Let cool; then unmold onto serving plates.
Boil sugar and water for syrup about three minutes or till clear. Remove from fire, add rum, cool. Before serving, pour syrup over cake slowly so all surfaces absorb the liquid. Garnish tops of rings with partly split cherries pressed down; pile center with sweetened vanilla-flavored whipped cream. Or, as illustrated in picture opposite, dessert may be decorated with rosettes made by pressing whipped cream through pastry tube, adding cherries and angelica cut in leaf shapes.
SAVARIN A LA CHANTILLY (serves 12 to 14 people)
INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE
2 cups unsifted flour; also flour to dust molds
¼ pound plus 1 pat butter
Extra butter to grease molds
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of milk
1½ packages (4½ teaspoons) dated active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
INGREDIENTS FOR RUM SYRUP
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup medium-dark rum
INGREDIENTS FOR GARNISH
10 or more candied or maraschino cherries
Candied angelica (optional)
1½ pints whipping cream
1½ tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract