Baba au Rhum is another French classic which I like to prepare when expecting guest for dinner. It s elegant, wildly appreciated by most and can be prepared hours in advance. Use the best quality rum as you will clearly taste it in the babas. I use artisanal vanilla pod flavored rum from Mauritius offered to me by friend native of the island. The modern baba was invented in Paris around the beginning of the XIX century, but its original version was introduced in France by an exiled Polish king, Stanislaw Leszczynski whose daughter later married king Louis XV and brought her personal pastry chef to Versailles. Rum was at the times substituted for sweet Malaga wine and a pinch of saffron was added to the dough.
Ingredients for the dough:
3 Tbs unsalted butter at room temperature plus more for greasing the molds
2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 Tbs dry yeast
2 Tbs sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup of dry black currents ( or raisins)
2 Tbs good quality rum
For the sirup:
6 Tbs rum
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 Tbs water
250g whipping cream
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the dough: Combine the warm water, dry yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electrical mixer and set aside for 10 minutes until bubbly. Put on the mixer on low speed and add the eggs, then the flour, the salt, the soft butter and the canola oil. Increase the speed and knead for 5-7 minutes. The dough will be very soft, almost like batter. Cover with a kitchen towel and put in a warm place to rise to double its size, about 60 minutes.
Stir the black currents with 2 tablespoons of rum in a small bowl and set aside.
Butter well 8 small kugelhopf molds and place them in a shallow baking sheet.
When the dough has doubled its size, fold in the soaked in rum currents with a spatula. Then spoon the dough into the kugelhopf moulds, half way full, cover them with a damp towel and let rise a second time for 45 minutes. The dough should reach the rim of the molds.
Make the sirup: Combine the sugar and water in small sauce pan and boil over high heat for 5-7 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the sirup starts to slightly ticket. Set aside to come to room temperature and stir in the rum and the vanilla extract.
Preheat the oven to 185C/375F.
Bake the babas for 15 minutes, then tap them out of the moulds and let them cool on a rack.
Make the glaze: Combine the apricot jam and water and heat in a microwave until warm and runny. Pass the glaze trough a sieve and discard the solids.
Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract, transfer it to a pastry bag and put in the fridge until needed.
Assemble the babas: Very slowly pour the sugar and rum sirup in the hole of the babas and watch them miraculously absorb it all. Then gently brush the glaze over each of them. Pipe the whipped cream in the center and serve.
Serve with the same kind of rum used for the preparation of the babas.