I knew I wanted to make a dessert, but couldn't decide what. I said to Brian, "pick something." This doesn't always work in my favor, but I couldn't make a decision. He choose Babas au Rhum. Great I thought...yeast. I'm really trying to overcome my fear of yeast, but it still makes me nervous. I have made a couple of batches of cinnamon rolls and I even tried my hand at Brioche with pretty good results. It still intimidates me though. Well looking closer at this recipe I noticed it called for fresh yeast. I didn't have fresh yeast, so I decided to combine Julia's recipe with Ina Garten's. The recipes were pretty similar, with differences when it came to measurements. Basically you mix yeast, butter, eggs, sugar, flour, and salt together. You let it rise for about an hour. Then you put it in a pan. Ina suggests a five-cup tube pan. Julia recommends a popover pan or muffin tins that are 2-inches deep and 2 inches in diameter. I used a regular muffin tin. You then let it rise again for another 1-2 hours. Mine rose in about 15-30 minutes. I should have baked them then but I thought I needed to wait the whole hour. The next time I checked on them they had collapsed a bit. This didn't seem to be a problem though. I baked them for about 15 minutes and they seemed fine. Next time though I would bake them as soon as they rise. You then let them cool down until they are warm. While they are cooling you make the rum syrup which is basically a sugar syrup with Jamaican rum. Then you let the syrup also cool down you want it to be warm but not hot. You then put the Babas in a shallow dish and poke holes in their puffed tops. Then pour the syrup over them and let them stand for 30 minutes, basting frequently. You want them to be moist and spongy but still hold their shape. Then drain on a rack for another 30 minutes. After this step you make an apricot glaze and brush that over the babas and serve.
The nice thing about this recipe is that you can freeze the babas ahead of time and then thaw them and soak in syrup. This would be nice for a party.
I'm not for sure if I would make these again. They had a very strong rum flavor! The kids were excited to try these, but the rum flavor was too much for them. If you don't like the taste of rum, you probably won't care for them. Brian and I thought they were pretty good. I would probably cook the alcohol a little bit to take away the bite next time and maybe add some vanilla to the syrup. In another version Julia serves it with berries and creme chantilly. I think that would be really good and go over better. I'm still really glad I made it. Julia is an amazing teacher, and really takes the intimidation out of French cooking. Here is Ina Garten's recipe if you are interested. Happy cooking!
Have a great weekend!
Next week...Brian posts on Carbonnades a la Flamande (Beef and Onions braised in beer.)