So scrumptious Babà al rum. You haven’t tasted them, have you? Well. You must …definitely because Babà al rum are indissolubly liked with Neapolitan patisserie whose succulence and tastiness is well-known and appreciated all over the world.
In Naples town “tu si nu babbà” means that you are a good person… you may easily figure out the reason!
Babà are delicious single serving yeast-risen treats made of eggs, butter, flour: their spongy dough is generously soaked in a vanilla and orange scented syrup of water and rum.
Their shape is quite unusual- they look like mushrooms with cap and stalk.
Baking babà is a sort of art: you have to be able to understand when the dough is ready, which means soft, elastic and compact. A few pastry-chefs in Naples allow to rise the dough three times, so it is not a kids’ game! Anyway, I have managed to bake them myself, I am sure you will as well.
What are babà?
Baba al rum are delicious Neapolitan small treats soaked in a boozy syrup; actually they come from afar: during his exile, the former King of Poland Stanislas Leszcynsky decoded to soak Kugelhupf, a typical local sweet with some rum syrup. Babà was born. The name? The King was vey fond of Alì Babà.
This spongy delicious cakes may come in a few variations and shapes; from a mini-babà to a gib babà cake. They soaking syrup may vary from the traditional rum one, to limocello or little boozy fruit syrup.
So soft, fluffy, juice, you won’t be able to do without them.
Eventually…what about babà stuffed with whipped cream, or custard? Definitely mouthwatering.
The reason why you must taste babà
Because they are are delicious: you will fall in love with these treats bite after after. Fluffy, juicy, inviting, the syrup will pleasantly spread all over your mouth. Not bad, is it?
These treats fit the adults as the tasted of the rum is quite strong. Anyway, you may make your own decision: more or less liquor, it is up to you. Children don’t usually like them! The adults do!
You will run out of babà in a very short time, believe me.
A short story…
The first time I decided to make babà I was full of energy and enthusiasm. I carefully weighted all the ingredients and put them into my stand mixer bowl. I switched it on, everything was going on …but the dough turned out too compact. I was wondering I would have got a tragic result. The only solution? I needed to add a little more milk, but I had just given the last drops to my dogs Tatì and Gea who like it very much. So, I took some cream and decided to dilute it with a little water until the right consistency. Well done I thought! Not really: when I pour it into the stand mixer, it separated the two components: can you imagine? Cream and water all around the kitchen: I had a cream shower and my dogs carefully cleaned the kitchen floor with fast moments of their small pink tongues. It was a film like scene!
The main features of this recipe
It is not an easy recipe, so you should know a few tricks before baking babà.
- You need a stand mixer in order to obtain the right texture of smoothness of the dough. Use specify molds, you may buy them on Amazon. I usually opt for silicon ones because they are very convenient: you don’t have to butter or flour them. The result will be perfect: they won’t stick to the molds at all!
- The cutting off movement is essential to place the sticky (wet your hands to manage it better), soft dough into the molds properly: expert pastry chefs swirl the piece of dough with a hand and push it upwards, at the same; with a steady movement the dough is cut off: the part that leaks into your hand is your babà. You may also use a pastry-bag and your wet finger to arrange the dough in the mold;.
- Add the liquor when the syrup is boiling, so the excess alcool will evaporate and the taste will result more delicate and tempting.
Italian super fluffy and juicy babà al Rum
For the babà
- 500 gr strong flour (Manitoba)
- 25 gr fresh active yeast
- 50 gr sugar or 30g of orange or acacia honey
- 5 M fresh and very cold eggs
- 100 gr butter (at room temperature)
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 glass milk
- Extra: organic lemon zest
For the stuffing
- 500 gr sugar
- 1 liter water (variable)
- 150-200 ml white high quality rum, or 2 glasses of limoncello (variable: increase the quantity if you want boozier babà)
- The peel of one organic lemon or orange
- (extra: half vanilla pod if you haven’t used in the dough yet)
For the decoration
- 50 gr apricot jam
- whipped cream or custard
- First of all, choose a quite big bowl: the dough will rise better. If the bowl of your stand mixer is not big enough, mix the ingredients and them truest the dough into high sided bowl.
- Sift in 100g of flour and mix the yeast you have previously dissolved in little lukewarm milk;
- Turn on the stand mixer provided with the paddle attachment at 2-3 speed;
- Combine for a few minutes;
- Cover with a tea-towel and set aside to rest for 30 minutes;
- Sift the remaining flour into the stand mixer bowl;
- Add the cold (from the fridge) eggs
- Add the eggs one by one: don’t be in a hurry, this is an essential passage. Wait until the first egg has been completely incorporated in the dough before adding the following one;
- Repeat this five times according to the numbers of the eggs;
- Gradually add the sugar with the mix running;
- When then sugar has been incorporated, add a pinch of salt (which favors the rising process);
- Knead five minutes more;
- You should replace the paddle attachment with the hook which will keep the dough elastic and smooth;
- Add the softened butter at room temperature: don’t melt it in a pan over the heat, it must keep the so-called creamy texture (you may shortly warm it in the microwave);
- Cut the butter into small dices, they will combine with the dough more easily;
- Add a few dices of butter a little at a time when the previous ones have been wholly incorporated;
- If the dough results too hard and stiff, add some milk until soft and elastic (be careful: do not add too much milk: you can’t make it right again);
- Scrap the vanilla pod with a sharp knife and add the vanilla to the dough (you may add the lemon zest here);
- Knead for 15 minutes more until a smooth, soft light yellow dough;
- Increase the speed of the stand mixer to medium;
- Cover the dough with cling film: leave it in the stand mixer bowl or in a bigger one; it will rise quite a lot;
- Allow it to rise for 3 hours at 25-26°C (77-79°F). You may also pre_heat the oven to reach this temperature and turn it off, or leave the same temperature for all the rising time.
- You will note with pleasure that your dough will rise a lot: I have a KitchenAid and usually the dough raises over the edges of the bowl: such a satisfaction!
- Now, it is time to knead the dough: be careful.
- Gently remove the cling film: part of the dough will have stuck to it. Wet your hand to favor the operation or use a wet spoon. The dough will deflate, that’s ok.
- Butter aluminum molds or use the silicon ones, which I prefer definitely, you don’t have neither to grease nor to flour them.
- Be very patience because the dough is sticky and elastic (this is the result of a strong flour combined with 5 eggs): you need a little skill;
- Wet your hands and take a piece of dough enough to fill 1/3 of the mold; cut it with your fingers, a sudden pinch is ok, don’t use a knife. Drop it into the mold;
- Cover each mold and allow the dough to rise until it has just started to rise above the edges of the molds: the dough is very strong, so it may take little time to;
- Pre-heat the static oven at 180°C (356°F):
- Bake babà for 20-30 minutes; if they get too brown at there end of the baking time, decrease the temperature to 160°C (320°F). During the baking process they will rise, that’s good, well done! You babà will be perfect;
- Let them col down completely in their molds;
- In the meanwhile prepare the stuffing, let’s call it syrup;
- Bring 500 ml of water with the sugar too a rolling boil; the sugar must be completely dissolved;
- Add the rum or the liquor to your taste;
- Add the zest of an organic lemon;
- Remove from the heat and let cool down to 35°C (95°F);
- Transfer the syrup to a large bowl;
- Place the babà in the bowl and soak them in the syrup for about 10 minutes; turn them several times with a perforated spoon to soak up the syrup;
- As babà are very spongy, you must squeeze them;
- Delicately squeeze them with your finger as you were squeezing a sponge; in this way the syrup will get into the babà as well;
- Let them dry up on a rack, on a plate or in a container to save more syrup;
- If you want to make your babà even more tempting, polish them. Brush the baba with 50g of apricot jam diluted with 1 or 2 spoon of rum syrup; they will eat glossy and very mouthwatering;
- You may half babà and stuff them with whipped cream or custard.
- Serve and enjoy them immediately.
How can you store babà?
Babà al rum keep up to 1 or 2 day in the fridge. Baked, but not soaked, they keep fresh up to 10 days: store them in a bowl covered with a tea towel, so they will dry up perfectly. They should not be frozen. The rum syrup lasts for a few days, you may use it to garish other sweets.