Saturday, December 29, 2012

I made Tea Babas!!

...and what, you may well ask, IS a TEA Baba - well my friends it is my own version of a Rum Baba - a delicious, elegant, sophisticated French raisin studded sponge soaked with rum syrup and swooned in clouds of Chantilly cream - I have exchanged the rum for tea and apple juice and I have to say I am impressed and very proud of myself for even attempting to make this 'pudding' as I have always assumed they would be really hard to make - they look complicated and they have yeast in and to be honest I am always thoroughly gobsmacked when I try a yeasted dessert and it turns out!! This one was really pretty easy - I have made it twice and it worked out both times - looked good and tasted GREAT!!!

I fell in love with Rum Babas when I was a teenager in Manchester, UK and some friends and I sneaked out of school - the Hollies FCJ in Didsbury, Didsbury being the hipper part of Manchester at the time - lovely houses, a neighbourhood I aspired to live in when I grew up - but that never happened - neither me growing up nor living there ha ha - the band was named after our school - honest - ANYWAY to run down to the delicatessen at the end of the road for tea and a baba - I think the cafe was called Mr. Marvels but I am not sure and a Google search revealed no confirmation.

On with the recipe!! - I used a brilliant one from "Baking with Julia" that worked first time - thanks Julia

First soak the raisins for a couple of hours:

1oz/1/3 cup raisins - soak in enough strong hot tea or cold rum to cover - depending which way you want to go with this treat - the tea is GOOD!!! I promise.

I did this amount the first go and it was good - the second try I doubled the amount because I like raisins and it was good also but I think it made the dough a little too wet and it didn't bake as evenly - it still worked out really well though so just decide how much you want in the raisin department :) 

DOUGH PART - have everything at room temperature - this makes 8 small toque shaped delights - I used a popover/dariole mould to bake them in and it worked perfectly - you could make 4 in bigger muffin tins or when I had them in Manchester they were made in small savarin moulds and the chantilly cream was piped into the centre.

3ozs/ 3/4 cup white flour
1 egg whisked
6 tablespoons body temperature water
 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
 1 teaspoon sugar
2 oz/ 1/2 stick butter cut into small pieces and soft

1 tablespoon melted butter to coat moulds

1. Put warm water into a medium sized bowl and scatter the yeast and sugar across it's surface.

2. Blend in the whisked egg with a rubber or silicone spatula until just blended.

3. Add the sifted flour and blend gently for about 2 minutes until well mixed.

4. Now beat with a bit more intensity for about 8 minutes until totally smooth.

5. Add the well softened butter and mix gently only until incorporated.

6. This dough is VERY slippery and loose - don't be alarmed - it should look like this:
6. Cover the bowl with a tea towel soaked with hot water and wrung out and leave in a very warm but not directly hot place - ie the bowl should be surrounded by warmth but it shouldn't get hot to the touch - ambient warmth please - for about 15 minutes until the dough has risen slightly - it will not double and it doesn't look like bread rising at all - it's barely bubbly. If your house is cooler - I rise mine on the wood stove so it's warm!! - the rising will take longer so give it another 10 minutes or so.

Meantime drain the raisins and set aside. Keep the liquor from them for the syrup.

7. Brush your moulds with melted butter.

8. Add the raisins to the risen dough and mix just to blend with a rubber/silicone spatula.

The dough is very slippery and stringy as you see here.
9. Now the fun part - take spoonfuls or handfuls of the dough, I found using my hand easier, and try to drop into the moulds without getting it everywhere until moulds are half full - remember this is a slippy one - I didn't do such a great job but it's OK as they rise enough for everything to end up looking just fine.
10. Allow to rise in a warm place until they reach the top of the moulds - you don't need to cover them - should take about 30 minutes.

11. While they're rising heat the oven to 350F.

12. When risen pop in the oven - middle shelf and bake for about 25 minutes until well browned on top and easy to remove from the pan - mine weren't first time so I tried taking one out and when it wouldn't budge I put them back in for another 5 minutes - they should look like this when they come out:
 When baked to perfection allow to cool for a few minutes in the moulds then remove and put onto a cooling rack until completely cold. 
While waiting for the babas to cool MAKE THE SOAKING SYRUP: Julias recipe said to make twice this amount but I thought it was too much - if you like lots of syrup do make twice this amount.

4 fl ozs/1/2 cup tea and 4 fl ozs/1/2 cup apple juice
2 ozs/1/2 cup sugar

1. Heat together in a saucepan and reduce until it is nicely thickened - allow to cool.

NOW dip the babas into the syrup until coated evenly and allow to drain on the cooling rack - don't let them sit in the syrup - they'll get too soggy.

Whip yourself up some heavy/double cream with sugar to taste and pipe around your babas as you like - if you want more rum spoon a little over each baba before you serve and there you have it - fancy pants TEA Babas to impress your guests for New Year's Eve!!! 

This seems like an apropos 'pudding' for New Year's Eve as the name Baba refers to Ali Baba from The 1001 Arabian Nights - a favoured story of the desserts inventor King Stanislas Leszczynski of Poland.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours - do try this dessert - it's wonderful!!!

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