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This dessert is an old one, the recipe dates back several centuries. Some say the French invented it. Some say a Polish king, Lesczyinski, invented it. Sometimes the cake includes currants or raisins, sometimes not. Believe what you will, but this sinful dessert is decadently DELICIOUS!

This one takes a bit of time and effort, so I usually only prepare it for very special occasions. If you do not have a Savarin mold, use a ring mold.

1 packet dry yeast
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 eggs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour

grated rind of 1 orange (no pith, please!!!)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark rum

1 cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon lemon juice
blanched almonds, candied cherries, and Crème Chantilly (optional garnish)

In small bowl combine yeast, 3 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stir to dissolve, and let it sit a few minutes.  In a medium bowl combine eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, salt and flour.  Stir in yeast mixture. Mix well.  Knead the dough until smooth and springy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1¼ hours.  Punch down. Roll the dough into a sausage shape and cut into 8 balls.  Press into a greased Savarin or 9" ring mold. Cover and let rise again until double, about 1 hour.  Bake in the lower third of a preheated 400° F oven for about 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° F and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until richly browned. Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes. Unmold onto a rack and cool the cake to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the orange peel, orange juice, water and sugar, and simmer over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add rum, and cool the syrup to lukewarm.

Once the cake has cooled, invert it and prick holes all over the crust with a fork. Turn it upside-down onto a deep plate. Spoon the rum syrup over it, basting every once in a while until all of the syrup is absorbed. Let the cake stand 2 hours.

In a saucepan, melt the apricot jam with the lemon juice. Press this through a sieve, then paint it over the cake in a thin glaze. Decorate the top of the cake with blanched almonds and candied cherries if desired, and brush them with the apricot glaze. Serve with Crème Chantilly.

NOTE: Crème Chantilly is simply vanilla-flavored whipped cream.

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