This must be the most silly translation ever, but I haven’t come up with anything better.
First thing first, let’s talk about the babà.
The babà is a typical dessert from Naples but its origin are to be found in Poland and France.
The name could be an evolution of the “babka”, a cake typical of the slavic regions. Babka is the diminutive of “baba”, which means grandma in most slavic languages
There are many different accounts about its origins, but it seems that it was invented by the exiled Polish King Stanislaus I. Apparently he did not have any teeth, so to be able to eat his Gugelhupf (a cake typical of the Alsace, France) he soaked it in liquor.
Only a century or so later, in 1835, the proper babà recipe was devised in Paris by pastry chef Nicholas Stohrer. This is when the babà took its classic “mashroom” form and rum was added to syrup for soaking.
The babà was then exported to Naples and it is now one of the pillars of Neapolitan desserts.
It took me months to make this recipe. I even had to stop during lockdown since I did not want to waste so many eggs.
Lo and behold, I made it in the end. All I needed to do was to change the stand mixer. Not that my first stand mixer wasn’t good but apparently it was not working the dough properly.
The babà dough is quite difficult I must say. The most troublesome part is adding the eggs bit by bit without making the dough too moist.
Why in the jar
As far as the editorial choice is concerned, I wanted to create a recipe which was not massively present online.
On the other hand, I believe that having this dessert in the jar has its benefits. To me is a bit like the difference between a book and the Kindle device. The latter will never substitute the former, but it has its own implementations.
Of course this babà will not substitute the traditional one or the Savarin, but the jar has some advantages.
One is definitely the long shelf-life which is more than one year thanks to pressure canning.
Another pro is that it is easily transportable, making it ideal to bring along when invited to friends for dinner. And the small jar becomes an perfect single-serve dessert.
I will have to perfection the syrup and rum mix, and I wanna try other liquors too. I expect future updates.
Babà in the Jar
For the babà dough:
- 330 g flour high strength 350W 11.6 oz
- 390 g eggs 13.8 oz
- 140 g butter room temperature cubed 4.9 oz
- 14 g fresh yeast 0.5 oz
- 40 g acacia honey 1.4 oz
- 6 g salt 0.2 oz
- grated lemon zest
For the rum syrup:
- 350 g water 12.3 oz
- 350 g sugar 12.3 oz
- 140 g rum aged 4.9 oz
- lemon peel
- orange peel
- 1 stick of cinnamon
For the syrup:
- Ideally the syrup should be prepared the previous day, so to let it rest at least 24 hours.
- Put sugar and water in a small pot on medium heat.
- Add the lemon and orange peel and the cinnamon stick. Stir with a spatula until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat and let it cool off for about 15 minutes.
- Filter through a strainer and add the rum. Stir and put it in the fridge.
For the babà dough:
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment put the flour, honey, lemon zest, yeast (crumbled), salt, half quantity of the butter and 160g (5.6 oz) of eggs.
- Start working at low speed until the dough forms. Slightly increase the speed (at 2) and let it work a few minutes more.
- Swap the hook with the paddle attachment.
- Start adding the remaining butter bit by bit, waiting for the previous batch to be absorbed before adding the next one. In this phase work between speeds 1 and 2.
- Now it is time to add the remaining eggs (230g or 8.2 oz). Whisk the eggs so they can be added in small quantities.
- Like for the butter, add the eggs slowly, waiting for the previous amount to be absorbed. Increase the speed to medium (at about 3).
- At the end the dough should be soft but very elastic, and it should separate easily from the paddle attachment.
- Pour the dough on the work surface and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- You can fill the jars by hand or with a pastry bag with a large round tip.
- If you do the former wet your hands with either water or olive oil.
- For the medium WECK jars (742) 580ml put approx. 90g (3.2 oz) of dough.
- For the small WECK jars (900), 290ml put approx. 40g (1.4 oz) of dough.
- Cover the jars with cling film and leave them to rise about 7 hours (even 5 if the temperature is warm).
- Bake with no lid at 180° C (355° F) in static oven (170° C - 338° F for convection), 35-38 minutes for the medium jars and 32-35 for the small ones.
- Check the color, they should be dark golden. To give you an idea the ones in the picture here could have baked a few minutes more.
- Let the jars cool off completely.
- Using a long wooden skewer score some holes in the babà. Heat half of the rum syrup to about 80°-85° C (175°-185° F). With the syrup moisten the babà.
- Let them rest for 10 minutes and repeat the process with the remaining syrup.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven at 130° C (266° F).
- Close the jars using the lids, rings and clamps provided.
- Bake at 130° C (266° F) for 20 minutes. This is the pressure canning process.
- Let them cool off completely.
- Pressure canning guarantees at least 1 year of shelf-life.