TGI Masterclass! I knew series three would be a challenge, what with recipes that tip the scales at 30 plus steps, but we have really started with a bang! Rum Baba, excuse me, what? Now I know I wasn’t alive in the seventies during this recipe’s hay day but even the owner of the speciality baking store where I got my tin didn’t know what I was talking about. I did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this bake. Thankfully I had the coaching of Paul to help me get through.
I’m not sure what’s available on the American Netflix or Youtube etc. But I have found all of series 3 including the Masterclass episodes on DailyMotion. Masterclass is a handful of episodes where Paul and Mary walk you through choice recipes of the series. Usually, they cover the Technical Challenges so I feel a bit like I am cheating from here on out with my bakes. From now own when I screw up it’s going to be especially impressive. Armed with tips from Paul and a clearly labelled bag of sugar (not salt, sorry John) it was time to baba.
My first challenge was finding the right tin to make this seventies treat. The recipe says to use a baba tin or failing that, a savarin tin. Well giving an alternate to one obscure thing with another completely foreign thing is not very helpful. So off I went in search of tins that could hold either a baba or a savarin. As I mentioned even the special store I went to thought I was asking for something that sounded like baby talk so I was forced to settle on this.
With my pan in hand, it was time to assemble the ingredients. I was debating all week about what to do with the baba’s after they were made. The problem with a recipe where you get 4 individual portions is that it’s really hard to send them into an office of 12 people and probably not wise for 2 people to consume them all in one sitting (because who are we kidding willpower isn’t really a thing). So I settled on halving the recipe. I know, as if the bake wasn’t hard enough now I’m bringing my old friend math back into the mix.
From then on the dough came together really well. In Masterclass, Mary is quick to ask Paul if she could forgo the hand kneading in place of a mixer and Paul begrudgingly agreed. That was all the permission I needed. Checking back on the dough every few seconds I was relieved to not be mixing by hand. It looked so sticky and messy, I would surely be covered in dough and too tempted to throw in more flour to free myself.
After the dough comes together you then add in the butter, this was very new to me since most other recipes you would need the butter to establish the dough. But I plopped it in the mixer and through the magic of Kitchen Aid, the dough became glossy and smooth.
I used Nancy’s trick of resting the dough in the oven with the light on and after an hour it had puffed up nicely. Time to pipe. So I’ve learned that piping and dough don’t really go hand in hand. It felt more like extruding dough through a small hole, something that I don’t think dough really lends itself too. But I squeezed out two and a half rings of dough and set them to rest again. At this point, I missed what I now think is a major clue in the recipe. Paul first says preheat your oven THEN says let the dough rest. Now putting on my baker/detective hat I am thinking that since you are preheating the oven first when it hits the right temp your dough should be done the second rise. At least that’s what I think now since leaving it for 50 minutes resulted in this.
*Please note my brilliant yet completely ineffectual use of a piping tip to keep the plastic off my dough.
Now it could be that I had over filled my pan in the first place. And truthfully I think that was a big part of my problem (also I think my pan was too small but that is such a sore subject for me I can’t bear to dwell on it right now so lets blame the timing) but I also think the second rise really only had to be 20-30 minutes. Some explicit instructions would have been appreciated Mr Hollywood!
After running around the house and yelling baba-bad a few times it was into the oven with these monsters. I spent the baking time picking out the most perfect raspberries and cherries so I would at least have a pretty garnish on my rum babas. The syrup was really easy and I completely forgot to document it but just image water, rum and sugar boiling.
My babas only grew more in the oven and could technically probably be considered over baked, but who am I to judge. Nevertheless, I soaked the overgrown babas. It is worth mentioning at this point that the recipe warns against over proving and causing muffin top, and in the episode Paul points out a couple of bakers that tried to trim their muffin top. Not only did I have muffin top rivalling all 2000’s low rise jeans wearers but I even trimmed one. Gasp!
I soaked all my muffin-topped rings of dough and tried to dress up the best looking one. If you look past the overflow and the slightly too dark exterior I think it could almost pass for a rum baba.
Let me just say, it was a big old flop in terms of execution but these were delicious!! I’m not even a big fan of rum but I could have drunk the syrup. It turned into a sweet honey-ish, almost maple-y liquid that just sent this brioche like ring of dough through the roof. It was so light and airy and buttery and every other superlative you can think of.
So as I said at the beginning my failures are even more embarrassing now that I have the Masterclasses to guide me but at least I could console myself with scrummy rum babas.