Picture this … it’s a coldish winter’s day in Provence .. Sablet to be exact, when your very kind neighbors across Grande Rue invite you for afternoon coffee. It’s a pretty hectic day, because your vacation is coming to an end and you’re leaving the next day, but one last chance to take a small break and visit with our good friends and neighbors is too good a chance to miss.
|View of the Village Square from the large picture window|
As usual, their home is warm and welcoming when we arrive, and as usual we are in for a delicious home baked treat. This day, however even we didn't realize how special the treat would be. As our hostess prepared the coffee and the family gathered around the large, beautifully set dining table, by a large picture window overlooking the village square, our host went out into the kitchen announcing that he had baked something for us.
|This is my copycat "Baba au Yumm" aka Baba au Mirabelle, made shortly after we got back to California|
He came back presenting a beautiful “Baba au Rhum” (a rich yeast cake known as a Savarin, glazed with and soaked in a Rum syrup) or so I thought – it was fabulous and we were all very impressed that our host had prepared it. We knew his wife was an excellent Cuisinière, but had no idea that he also had such talent! We were even more impressed that this was not in fact a Baba au Rhum, but it was his variation and was a Baba au Mirabelle! What is Mirabelle and why did he choose this instead of Rum?
|Mirabelle Eau de Vie (literal translation Eau de Vie - Water of Life)|
Mirabelle is an Eau de Vie – a clear, colorless fruit Brandy, made from little Mirabelle plums and is a specialty of the Alsace – Lorraine Region of France where our hostess was born and raised. Her family makes the most delicious Mirabelle and it is a real treat that we are able to enjoy this as a digestive after some wonderful dinners.
Additionally, Mirabelle has been a favorite of my husband’s since we traveled through Alsace-Lorraine in the early 1980’s and just happened to be passing through at just the right time for the Mirabelle Festival. Our very kind neighbor had created a wonderful, special dessert that we dubbed, the “Baba au Yumm” – but more than anything, we appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into this preparation.
Of course, when we got back home, I had to try this new variation and the results are pictured above – it’s a great dessert, not often served today, but is very classic and totally delicious.
Below is Martha Stewart's Recipe for Baba au Rhum: These are made as small, individual Babas - I made it as one large dessert in a bundt pan. If you prefer to make the syrup using a different liqueur, substitute it for the Rum - I used Mirabelle.
· 5 tablespoons lukewarm milk (100 to 115 degrees), plus 1 tablespoon milk
· 1/2 ounce fresh yeast
· 1 pound 2 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for forming dough
· 1 tablespoon coarse salt
· 6 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
· 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened, plus more for molds
· 1/4 cup superfine sugar
· Nonstick cooking spray
· Rum Syrup made of 4 cups of Sugar dissolved in 2 cups of Rum (or other liqueur, if you prefer)
· Whipped Cream, for serving (optional)
· Cherries, for serving (optional)
1 Place milk and yeast in a small bowl; stir to dissolve.
Place flour, salt, and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with dough hook attachment; add yeast mixture and mix on low speed to combine and knead, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula; knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar. Add a few small pieces of butter mixture to dough; with the mixer on low, add remaining butter mixture, a little bit at a time. When all the butter mixture has been added, increase speed and continue mixing until smooth, shiny, comes away from the sides of the bowl, and is elastic, 6 to 10 minutes.
4 Butter a large bowl, transfer dough to prepared bowl, and cover with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
5 Lift dough from bowl and drop back into bowl to deflate; repeat process once or twice. Cover bowl and transfer to refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
6 Butter 20 5-ounce baba molds and place on a baking sheet. Divide dough into 20 equal pieces; pinch each piece of dough to form balls. Place each ball of dough into prepared moulds.
7 In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and milk. Brush dough with egg yolk mixture, reserving remaining. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray; cover dough, cooking spray-side down, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
8 Preheat oven to 400 degrees in a convection oven (425 degrees in a conventional oven).
9 Working from the outside inward, brush each baba very lightly with reserved egg yolk mixture. Transfer molds to oven and bake until baba just begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees (if using a convection oven; 400 if using a conventional oven) and continue baking until deep golden-brown and internal temperature reaches 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Remove from oven and let cool in mold for 5 minutes. Unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Poke bases of babas all over with a toothpick. Working in batches, gently drop babas into hot rum syrup, submerging completely; let soak until there are no more bubbles. Place on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining baba; serve drizzled with additional rum syrup, whipped cream, and cherries, if desired.