These little muffin dealies are named after Ali Baba because the guy who came up with them liked Ali Baba as a personal hero. Basically, a lazy dude took his stale bread and dipped it in rum and sugar to make it taste better and then lazily named it after his favorite folk character. Lame story. If I dipped my stale Cheerios in rum, I’m sure I could find a better name for them than Anne of Green Gables in Rum.
They deserve better. Not because they taste great (Babas au Rhum are supposed to be dessert, but no, I’d say they are more in the realm of breakfast pastry in sugar-high America), they deserve better because they have such a romantic name. They also deserve a pop-over pan so they look right. Alas, my kitchen is not complete. I made over twenty squat Babas.
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 or orange
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup 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.
Meh, 3 stars. I had never dared put currants in anything before, because they seemed too close to raisins, and I detest raisins. But they taste great! They are but mini-raisins and not at all offensive in texture or flavor. Mom, you could probably sit with them for fifteen minutes in your mindfulness-based stress reduction sessions and have just as riveting a conversation as with the famous, or was it infamous, Raisin.
As for a better Ali Baba story, I challenged myself to come up with something better in two minutes. Because of the way the famous story title is written “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” people think that Ali Baba is the leader of forty thieves, a villain. Actually, he’s just a lucky dolt who follows a band of thieves around and eavesdrops on their magical cave treasure passwords (fyi: always Open Sesame) and by other such flukes of fate he just happens to benefit from the spoils of the thieves’ sloppiness. So, perhaps Babas au Rhum should be so named because Open Sesame is what the little muffin will whisper to your lips on its way toward your face.