Literary legacy. “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,” wrote Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the famed nineteenth century French food lover and gastronomic writer. What would he have said to one who ate the rum-infused cake that shares his name? A savarin is a yeast dough baked in a ring mold and soaked in rum syrup, the center hole brimming with pastry cream, crème chantilly, or fresh fruit. The dessert is a close relative of the Eastern European baba, which includes dried fruit in the dough and is served without a filling. Some accounts say that Brillat-Savarin himself invented the cake, but the Oxford Companion to Food
tells a different story. The tale goes that one of the Julien brothers, from a family of Parisian pastry-makers, set his mind to experimenting with the baba recipe sometime in the 1840s. The result was this rich and tasty dessert, which he named in honor of Brillat-Savarin.