This is a post from December, 2006, but it is such a gorgeous holiday dessert I decided to post it again. As I said in the original post, I have made these for years and my family thinks they are fabulous. You can substitute fruit juice for the rum.
As the legend goes, the Baba Au Rhum was named for a Polish king who dipped his stale bread in rum to improve the taste and it was said that he named his concoction after Ali Baba, a folk hero during the 1600's. My near perfect recipe for Babas was lost in a move and I sought to recover the taste and texture I remembered from several years ago. It was a struggle-two unsatisfactory batches were made, one in the bread machine and one in the mixer. The mixer by far had the best texture, but still wasn't my recipe. Cooks Illustrated Baking Illustrated cookbook came to the rescue. Here is my adaptation.
Babas Au Rhum
For the batter
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 envelope rapid dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water, room temperature
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated zest from 1 lemon
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 dark rum
1/2 cup apple jelly, heated
Have all ingredients for the batter at room temperature. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. In a mixer bowl, combine the water, eggs and lemon zest and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed until well mixed, scraping the sides of the mixer bowl. With mixer running, add butter a tablespoon at a time until batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into 2 lightly greased popover pans, filling each about halfway and let rise at room temperature about two hours. When ready to bake, place in a preheated 375 degree oven on the middle rack. Bake 15 minutes, rotating pans at halfway point. Babas should be a golden brown. Transfer pans to a wire cooling rack. After about 5 minutes, remove babas from pan and continue to cool.
Combine the water and sugar in a pan, stirring to dissolve sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and add the rum.
Using tongs, take a cooled baba and dip into the rum syrup, turning to coat, leaving the baba in the syrup no more that 5 seconds. Repeat with remaining babas. Brush the melted apple jelly on top of the babas. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
Can be frozen for two weeks. Glaze with apple jelly before serving.