Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A French Patisserie I’ll Never Be: But I Can Say I’m Close To Being One

I would like to hold a little bit of a Cooking History Class tonight, particularly in the field of Pastries (or Patissier if you’re in France)
A baba au rhum (or rum baba) is a small yeast cake saturated in liquor, usually rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream or pastry cream. It is most typically made in individual servings. The batter for baba is even richer than that for brioche, and includes eggs, milk, and butter. The original form of the baba was similar to the babka, a tall cylindrical yeast cake.
Baba au Rhum Stanislas2

The modern “Baba au Rhum”, with dried fruit and soaking in rum, was invented in rue Montorgueil (Paris, France) in 1835 or before. Today, the word “Baba” in France and almost everywhere else outside Eastern Europe usually refers specifically to the rum baba.
The original Baba was introduced into France in the 18th century via Alsace and Lorraine. This is attributed to Stanislas, the exiled king of Poland. The Larousse Gastronomique reports that Stanislas had the idea of soaking a dried Kugelhopf (a cake roughly similar to the baba and common in Alsace-Lorraine when he arrived there) or a baba with alcoholic spirit. Another version is that when Stanislas brought back a baba from one of his voyages it had dried up. Nicolas Stohrer, one of his pâtissiers, solved the problem by addition of adding Malaga wine, saffron, dried and fresh raisin and crème pâtissière. Courchamps states in 1839 that the descendants of Stanislas served the baba with a saucier containing sweet malaga wine mixed with one sixth of Tanaisie Liquor.
Nicolas Stohrer followed Stanislas’ daughter Maria Leszczyńska to Versailles as her pâtissier in 1725 when she married King Louis XV, and founded his Pâtisserie in Paris in 1730. One of his descendants allegedly had the idea of using rum in 1835. While he is believed to have done so on the fresh cakes (right out of the mold), it is a common practice today to let the baba dry a little so that it soaks up better. Later, the recipe was refined by mixing the Rum with aromatized sugar syrup.
Not class, the lesson is over. Lets all begin baking and get ready for a dessert that will win the hearts of everyone that takes a bite.
1 tbsp. dry yeast
3 tbsp. warm water
2 c. flour or bread flour
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs beaten
3 tbsp. dark rum
½ c. butter, softened
1 tsp. orange zest (OPTIONAL)
1 tsp. lemon zest (OPTIONAL)
¾ c. currants, raisins or dried cherries (OPTIONAL) I love cherries!
Powdered sugar (OPTIONAL)
Vanilla pastry cream or whipped cream (OPTIONAL)
Chef’s notes: Maple syrup or honey for children
Cake molds
Rum Syrup
2 c. sugar
3 c. water
½ c. dark rum (or more to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla
Chef’s notes: For children, use warmed maple syrup or honey in place of above recipe.
Add the yeast to the warm water, stir and set aside.
Sift the all purpose flour with the salt and sugar.  I use a tight strainer for this and shake up and down.
Add flour to food processor with dough piece or standing mixer with dough hook.
Add the yeast mixture slowly. 
Add the eggs.
Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic about 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. 
Chef’s notes: Dough will be sticky more like a batter Vs. dry like bread dough. 
Cover dough in the mixer bowl with damp towel; allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.  
While dough rises:
Take 1 stick of butter out of refrigerator to let soften.  You will add all this butter to the dough.
Use additional butter and grease the molds liberally and place in refrigerator.
Prepare the rum syrup. Boil water and sugar for 3 min and add the rum stir for 2 minutes.
Chef’s notes: Prepare the vanilla pastry cream or whipped cream, and chill in refrigerator. (OPTIONAL)
Chef’s notes: Soak the dried fruit in rum. (OPTIONAL)
After dough rises
Preheat oven to 400.
Dough should be doubled in size.
Pulse mix the dough for about 1 minute to deflate the air.
Add the softened butter and mix until dough is smooth again.
Add the lemon and orange zest. (OPTIONAL)
Add the dried fruit. (OPTIONAL)
Using a spoon, fill the buttered molds half way with dough.
I push a few rum soaked dried cherries to bottom of each with toothpick.
Cover and allow to rise again in a warm place for 15 minutes.
Place molds in oven and pay close attention to the baking process.  Baking time will vary according to what size mold you use so do not leave the kitchen during this time. 
The baba is finished when the color is golden brown and the cakes separate from the sides of the molds. 
I used an everyday muffin pan. See below.
Chef’s notes: If using a large bundt pan, leave baba in the mold and use long skewers to pierce cake to better absorb rum syrup.
Warm the rum syrup, take off heat and add the vanilla.
Warm the maple syrup or honey if using.
Place each cake in the mixture and saturate.  Spoon the syrup over the cakes for 2 minutes to allow absorption.  The cakes will enlarge a bit.
Fill pastry bag with chilled pastry cream or whipped cream to garnish the cakes. (OPTIONAL)
Place extra syrup on plates before plating the baba. (OPTIONAL)
Orange or lemon rinds for decor. (OPTIONAL)

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