Saturday 13 March 2010
As we peered into the vats of fermenting sugar-cane molasses used for the rum, I suddenly thought it would be brilliant to make that old-fashioned dessert-trolley classic, rum baba, using the natural rum ferment instead of yeast. But getting the natural rum ferment out of the country proved a bit tricky as you can imagine, so I ended up using my sourdough-bread starter mixed with molasses which gave the babas a nice dark rich colour. At home you may not have either, so I've given you the dried yeast option here.
2tsp dried yeast
3tbsp warm water
225g plain flour
3 medium free-range eggs, beaten
1tbsp caster sugar
100g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing the moulds
For the syrup
500g granulated sugar
200ml good-quality rum, plus some extra
Mix the dried yeast and water together until dissolved. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
Add the yeast mixture, eggs and sugar, then mix everything together with your hands to form a smooth dough and knead the dough for a couple of minutes in the bowl until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Cover the dough with small pieces of the butter, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place such as an airing cupboard or near a warm radiator for about an hour, until the mixture has doubled in volume.
Knead the butter into the dough for a minute or so until it becomes smooth and glossy.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Meanwhile, butter 8 dariole or similar moulds and chill them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes; then repeat with another layer of butter.
Spoon the mixture into the moulds so they are two-thirds full. Then place the moulds on a tray, cover with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to prove again in a warm place for about 20 minutes, until the mixture has risen to the tops of the moulds.
Bake the babas for about 15-20 minutes or until they are golden, then carefully turn them out, using a small knife if you need to, and transfer to a cooling tray.
Meanwhile, make the syrup: dissolve the sugar in the water in a large saucepan and boil rapidly for a few minutes to make a clear syrup.
Stir in the rum, then add the babas, leaving them to soak for about 5-10 minutes and turning them with a spoon every so often so they absorb as much of the liquid as possible; then transfer to a serving dish.
Serve with a jug of extra rum and thick cream or sweetened whipped cream.
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