Category Archives: Baba au Rhum

Making Baba au Rhum

Bananas aren’t what you’d call a traditional accompaniment to baba au rhum, but it’s February and they were all I had around. I shouldn’t have been so surprised that they worked so well, they’re a natural pairing with rum. I made a separate batch of syrup without the alcohol for the girls, and judging by the action this past weekend, babas are going to become a staple around here. They’re all little Joan wanted to eat, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Begin yours by putting the dry ingredients in your mixer.

Stir to combine and with the machine running, add the milk.

Now the eggs, one at a time.

The dough will get shaggy at first…

…but will become smooth and elastic after several minutes of beating.

Add the butter a tablespoon or so at a time and beat until it’s completely incorporated.

In the end you’ll have a very rich and stretchy dough. Let it sit for about fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, butter your form (or forms). Here I’m using a popover pan, but you can use an 8-cup bundt pan, a loaf pan…even muffin molds will work.

Spoon an eighth of the batter (about 2 1/4 ounces) into the forms.

Let it rise for about 45 minutes until it’s a little more than half way up the mold. It’ll dry out a little on top. That’s OK. Preheat your oven, meanwhile, to 400.

Bake 12-15 minutes until they look about like this:

When they’ve cooled enough to handle, turn them out of the mold (they’ll fall right out) and paint on a significant amount of syrup. You can submerge them in the syrup for a more thorough soaking. The babas may lose a little of their height, but they won’t fall apart. If they don’t seem to be taking in enough syrup, you can poke a few holes in the sides with a toothpick. For maximum soakage, shave off the crust on the bottom of the baba with a bread knife, then immerse in syrup.

Just prior to serving paint on a little apricot glaze. If they’ve grown completely cold at this point, a 15-second shot in the microwave (on high) will warm them slightly and give them a nice, soft texture.

Spoon the warm syrup over, add your fruit and serve immediately to rave reviews.

Filed under:  Baba au Rhum, Pastry | 11 Comments

Rum Baba Recipe

Babas are not unlike brioche: light, rich yeasted breads. However the formula has a little less butter. Fat tenderizes any dough that it’s added to, and that’s usually a good thing. Babas, however, get soaked with alcoholic syrup. Breads that are very, very tender will tend to fall apart under those conditions. That’s especially true if they’re tall and cylindrical like my babas will be, so they’ll need a little structure if they’re going to stand up.

Here I should point out that babas, like brioche, can be made in virtually any shape you wish. I think the traditional tall baba is a thing of beauty, however nowadays shorter, more muffin-like babas are more in vogue. Why? Well simply, without the height to worry about, pastry makers can soak them to the point that they’re practically pudding. In fact some baba recipes call for immersing them in syrup once they’ve cooled, until they’re completely sodden. I think that’s taking a good idea too far, but do what you like.

I’ve seen single, giant bundt cake-like babas, iced babas and stuffed babas. I’ve even seen “deconstructed” babas that are nothing more than thick brioche-like slices of baba served on a plate with a small pitcher of rum syrup on the side. That’s not my cup of tea, really, but it goes to show how creative you can get with with the classic baba if you feel like it. This recipe will fill either one large, 8-cup mold, eight traditional baba molds or just about any other mold you can think of.

For the dough:

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
9 ounces (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 ounces (1/2 cup minus two tablespoons) whole milk
3 eggs
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) softened butter

Put all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle (beater) and stir on low to combine. Add the milk and turn the machine up to medium, then the eggs one at a time and continue stirring until the eggs have been incorporated. Keep beating on medium for about 4 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. With the machine running, add the butter about a tablespoon at a time, kneading until it’s all incorporated. Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and let it rise about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400. Lightly butter your mold(s) and put in the dough. Let the baba rise 30-45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Bake individual babas about 12 minutes, a larger one about 30 minutes or until done (a sharp knife inserted into the center should come out clean). Remove the babas from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.

To finish:

1 recipe Cake Syrup flavored with 2-3 tablespoons rum and one half teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup (or so) Apricot Glaze
sliced or poached fruit of your choice

To assemble: Turn the cooled babas out on a rack placed over a sheet pan or platter. Brush the syrup onto the babas until they are noticeably heavier but not totally soaked. Let stand until ready to serve. To serve, place the babas on individual plates and paint lightly with apricot glaze. Warm the syrup, then spoon a few tablespoons over the baba. Garnish with fruit.

Filed under:  Baba au Rhum, Pastry | 6 Comments