Here’s a wonderful, rich and indulgent treat, perfect for those days when you need something rather special.
Makes: 4 – 6
Level: A small step up from easy
Time: About 75 – 80 minutes hands on and baking time + proving and resting time.
Equipment: Up to six 11cm/4½” baba tins/savarin moulds. I actually used the 6-hole tin shown below, but I think the holes are smaller or more shallow, as I had mixture left over, so piped a couple “freehand”. (You can use small dariole moulds, but these will not give the characteristic hole in the middle.)
For the Babas
- 225g/8oz white (strong) bread flour
- 7g sachet fast action yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 50g/2oz caster sugar, plus extra for lining tins
- 2 lemons (at a pinch, you can manage with just 1)
- 2 medium eggs
- 75ml/2½fl oz milk
- 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
For the syrup
- 250g/9oz white caster sugar
- 4 – 5 tbsp limoncello
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the Chantilly cream
- 250ml/9fl oz double (U.S. heavy) cream
- 100g/3½ oz Icing (U.S. Confectioner’s) sugar
- A few drops of lemon flavouring
- Lemon slices, for garnishing
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Place the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other side. Add the sugar and lemon zest then stir everything together until evenly mixed.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and milk until well combined. Add three-quarters of this mixture to the flour and stir to combine. Then mix in the rest of the liquid.
3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it’s smooth and glossy: about 10 – 12 minutes.
4. Add in the softened butter and work it through the dough thoroughly until it becomes silky and stretchy: about 5 – 7 minutes.
5. Place the dough back into a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Set aside to rise until doubled in size.
6. Grease and sugar the baba tins, or dariole moulds. (Adding sugar will enable the fragile sponges to come out of the moulds more easily).
7. Turn the dough out of the bowl, and knock it back, kneading it a few times.
8. Place the dough into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle, or cut the end. Pipe the dough into the moulds. Try and get them all as equal as possible. For precision, you could weigh each one.
9. Allow them to prove for a second time until the dough has expanded almost to the top. Be careful not to over-prove at this stage, or you will get a muffin top around the edges. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / 350°F / Gas 4.
10. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.
11. Meanwhile, for the syrup, put the sugar, limoncello and lemon juice in a small saucepan with 175ml/6fl oz water and bring to a rolling boil.
12. When the babas are cooked, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool a little before carefully removing from their tins. They will be very fragile.
13. Place the babas onto a dish and pour over half the syrup. (Or dip them into a bowl of syrup.) Allow them to soak up all of the liquid, then turn them over and repeat with the rest of the liquid. Transfer to the fridge to chill.
14. For the Chantilly cream, whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla extract. The cream must be firm enough to pipe and hold its shape on top of the babas. Transfer the cream to a piping bag with a star nozzle and keep in the fridge until needed.
15. Wash and cut a lemon into thin strips – one per baba.
16.To serve, pipe the Chantilly cream into the middle of the babas, then garnish with the lemon slices.
I hope you enjoy this wonderfully indulgent dessert. It certainly packs a punch in terms of flavour and also calories, of course. It’s probably not for every night of the week, but brilliant for an occasional treat. For a more traditional, but equally lovely treat, try my Rum babas.
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Some other sweet treats that I can recommend are these:
Chocolate Prune and Orange Tart