Baba Au Rhum Recipe
Babas Au Rhum (or Rum Babas) are cakes saturated in an alcoholic syrup topped with whipped cream. As you might have guessed from the name, the alcohol is typically rum. The cake plays a critical role too. It should be soft, but structrually strong enough to withstand the liquid. It should be moist but not soggy. I also use yeast, both to leaven (rise) the batter and for the yeasty flavor.
My spiced syrup takes center stage, integrating citrus with traditional fall spices like cinnamon and star anise.
Makes a dozen small babas or one large one.
- Prepare the syrup in advance
- Prepare the cake batter by creaming egg yolks, folding in the dry ingredients, then folding in whipped egg whites
- Prepare the glaze and whipped cream while the cakes bake
- When the cakes are done, use a syringe to inject them with the warmed syrup
- Brush heavily with the glaze
- Top with the whipped cream
Prepare the rum syrup
- 120 grams dark rum (1/2 cup)
- 180 grams water (3/4 cup)
- 110 grams brown sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1-inch piece of ginger
- orange peel from 1 orange, cut into medium pieces
- small squeeze of the orange juice (to taste)
- 4 whole allspice
- 4 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
These will give your syrup more spice and depth
- (optional) 3 star anise
- (optional) ~2 tbsp molasses
Combine all of the ingredients and spices together. Gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Give your mixture a few tastes during the process to make sure it tastes okay. If your syrup steeped for too long and has an overwhelming spice flavor, add a bit of citrus zest or juice from lemon or orange. This will lighten up the flavor.
Prepare the baba batter
- 1 tsp yeast in 3 tbsp warm milk
- 125 grams flour (about 1 cup)
- 100 grams sugar (about 1/2 cup)
- 10 grams baking powder
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- 50 grams melted butter
This amount of batter will make about 16 small babas (3 inches by 2 inches in size).
Stir the yeast in warm milk while mixing the other ingredients. Cream the egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk until they are light yellow and fluffy. Add the milk, butter, flour, and baking powser into the yolks.
Whip the egg whites with a stand mixer or electric beater to stiff peaks similar to whipped cream. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolks, then the next 1/3, then the last 1/3 of the whites.
Butter and flour the baba molds so that they are only 1/2 full. They will rise quite a bit. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cakes comes out clean.
Prepare the glaze
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 110 grams sugar
- 20 grams pectin NH (or regular pectin if you cannot find pectin NH)
- juice of 1/2 lemon (~15 grams)
This makes about twice as much glaze as you will need for the babas. Double, triple, or quadruple this recipe to use for future recipes.
Heat the lemon juice and water to 45°F. Stir in the sugar and pectin together and bring to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally for another 5 minutes to ensure the pectin is fully dissolved and reacted with the citric acid and sugar. Take it off the heat. When you use the glaze, it should be warm, but not hot (about 90°F). You can easily reheat it, so don't worry if it gets too cool.
Prepare the whipped cream
If you have not already, read how to make a smooth creme chantilly for a more detailed tutorial of this component.
- 2 cups of heavy cream (~1/2 pint)
- 4 tbsp. of sugar
- 1 vanilla bean pod (or 1 tsp extract)
- (optional) 1/2 tsp gelatin bloomed in cold water to stabilize
If you substitute the beans for the extract, you will lose out on the black specks that make your whipped cream look gorgeous.
Additionally, since the whipped cream is a prominent part of the presentation, we want to make it as smooth as possible. Using a hand blender, we can make a really smooth whipped cream.
Start blending the cream with the vanilla and sugar. When it reaches soft peaks, heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave. When you add it to the whipped cream, be sure to blend it in immediately or else the gelatin will cool and your whipped cream will have clumps.
Finish the babas
A syringe will help distribute the syrup evenly through the babas. Inject each baba with about 10ml (~1 tbsp) of syrup and toss them in the syrup for a few seconds to coat the outside. If you don't have a syringe, you can cut the bottoms off before soaking and keep them in the syrup for a little longer.
Using a pastry brush, generously spread the glaze over the babas. Repeat this for 2 or 3 coats.
Finally, pipe the whipped cream over the tops of the babas.
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