Doin’ the Rum Baba
I just cannot believe it’s two years since I was fortunate to be on the first series of the Great British Bake Off and talking to Louise, Ruth and Edd, neither can they. I’ve watched series two with interest and now the latest; I’m just blown away with just how good some of the contestants are. If I applied now, there’s no damn way I’d have a chance of getting through the preliminaries let alone get on the show. I guess Love Productions, like us ‘originals’, were finding their feet and now the competition has hotted up (in more ways than one). I’m glad I got through, even if it was only for one episode, and yes dear reader, I’d do it all again in the waft of a sieve.
I’m no longer the only person to bake for Scotland, young James is making a name for himself and I hope he goes through to the final. I have my favourites like everybody else – my hope and heart goes to Cathryn; a nervous kitten that I’m sure will grow in confidence and like James, will make it through to the end.
This post isn’t all about the Bake Off, it’s about pushing myself once again. The technical challenges from series one were simple compared to this year’s first episode where we saw the return of that retro pud, the rum baba.
I’ve never made these but if I see them, it’ll end up in front of me, wolfed down in a blink of an eye. I always thought they were complicated beasts and watching last week’s show, was intrigued by them but almost put off by the Silver Fox’s version; I thought his method was more complex than it should be.
Reaching for my trusty baking bible by the adorable Dan Lepard, I was delighted to find he has a recipe for the baba in Short and Sweet.
So here is my rendition of the rum baba. I’m not giving you the recipe as it’s straight from Dan’s book and I’d be in breach of his copyright, something that is a big issue at the moment with not only recipes but also pictures.
My Take on Dan Lepard’s Rum Baba.
Dan’s recipe says it will make five or six babas, but in reality, I think it could be more like eight if you used a muffin tin.
Unlike Paul Hollywood’s method, I used a mixer. It not only saved time but also my temper.
Putting some of the flour, warm milk and yeast into a warmed bowl, giving it a quick stir, I left the gloop until it went fuzzily frothy. Adding the rest of the flour, eggs, sugar, salt, I gave it a good beating for two minutes. Now this is where I bogged up (misread the instructions), I left it for 45 minutes to prove. What I should have done was add the butter and whisked for another two minutes, then let it rise. I didn’t and had no idea how the wee blighters would turn out.
As soon as the batter doubled in size (again), I dolloped spoonfuls into well-greased pudding tins.
While they strutted their funky stuff, I made the syrup. It may seem like a huge amount of liquid, but let me tell you theses babas are thirsty little buggers when it comes to a good soaking.
Once risen, my babies were shoved into a hot oven for about 25 minutes. They looked and smelled like brioche when I took them out, but they are delicate souls and need to be coaxed gently from their little metal jackets. Once plopped into a deep dish, covered with the hot syrup, I left them for a wee while before gingerly turning them over to drown in the sticky sweetness.
To serve, Dan’s recommendations are to split them, give them a good dousing of rum and a large spoonful of whipped cream; I used brandy to complement the donut peach compote I’d made for the occassion. It was either that or throw them out as they were a on the soft side of bin fodder.
What I’d do next time is add the spirit to the syrup; it can be any booze that has a high alcoholic kick and not much sugar. I was tempted by using a mandarin vodka. No matter how you serve them, these addictive little vixens will certainly feature on the supper and, in my case, breakfast table on a regular basis.
Few ingredients, an easier method, lots of time and a bit of a bog up later, the first baba appeared. Not a thing of beauty, but by the gods did they taste fabbytits!
Nowt to be scared of, now I had a go.
© Lea Harris. Off the Eaten Track, 2012.