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.

11 thoughts on “Making Baba au Rhum”

  1. Wonderful! I love baba au rhum, but have never made it. This is worth digging my stand mixer out of storage for. They’re all I’d want to eat too!

    1. Thanks Mary! As you can see, it’s neither difficult nor time consuming. Give it a try!

  2. Interesting, only one rise? I just took a look at the brioche dough and that has a lot of butter as well but 2 rises. Is it because the flavor of the baba is supplemented by so much syrup? And how about a picture of a cut Baba, so we can take a look at the crumb. Sorry for the questions, but inquiring minds want to know!

    1. Yes, you’re exactly right. Longer rises create more flavor, which is why good brioche can ripen for up to three days in the refirgerator. But then brioche doesn’t get soaked in a heavily-falvored syrup like a baba does. As for the cut brioche, I always forget to take those sorts of photos. This last batch is all gone (Joan ate them all), but I’ll probably make more soon. When I do, I’ll put up a picture.

  3. Gorgeous. I’m curious, if not yummy bananas, what is a traditional side for these? Sugarcane and banana grow so well in the same area (what used to be my backyard. Sigh.) that it seems a natural fit. Loquat would be unbelievably perfect, but isn’t commercially available as far as I know. Coconut? Wrong texture. I am out of guesses!

    1. Way back when, nobody worried much about pairing baba au rum with tropical fruits. Often dried or candied fruits would be added to the dough itself: currants, raisins, citrus peels, etc.. A stewed fruit (compote) garnish was popular in the 20th century: apples, pears, cherries, prunes, apricots, cherries. But poached fruit is another great choice. Bananas are plenty soft as they are, so they’re easy. Caramelized bananas would make an even more impressive presentation. Sprinkle on some granulated sugar and apply the blowtorch until the sugar turns brown with a glass-like finish. Magnifique.

  4. Made them yesterday and they were wonderful. I used 2 cast iron mini popover pans and got a dozen. They rose really well. I sliced pears to go with them. Had a left over warmed and buttered with an egg this morning. Heaven.

  5. Wow, these look great! I was hoping to make them myself but I don’t have the baba tin that you have in the picture, the closest I can get is a normal 12 cupcake/muffin tray, can I use that instead and just use less mix and less cooking time?!

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