Soaking up the Sun


Sometimes it's hard to believe we all share the same sun. Vacation sun is  always bright, vivid, perfect.  This summer's lack of a true vacation forced me to savor our local sunshine. Fine for a lazy Sunday afternoon. But I couldn't stop dreaming of last summer's  retreat on Anacapri. As if the beauty and culture weren't enough, I was treated, poolside, to the best Rum Baba; perfectly light and sweet and sublimely soaked. It was an afternoon snack, presented unannounced with fresh cream and berries.

The babas I know here at home and learned to bake are denser and more buttery .  Both are delicious, heavily soaked with a real rum syrup (no extract please).  I will be obsessing over this light sponge version until my next trip back. In the meantime, this recipe for mini baba  from "Small Sweet and Italian" makes a few dozen of these rich little treats. Soak and savor the sun wherever you are.

Rum Baba and other sweets
Rum Baba and other sweets

Baby Rum Babas                  

1 package yeast

1/2 cup warm milk

4 tablespoons sugar

2 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 stick butter, softened

Rum Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark rum

Glaze ( optional)

Apricot preserves orange rind

Make baba

  1. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar, milk and yeast. Set aside to dissolve.
  2. In an electric mixer with wire whisk attachment,  combine flour, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.Mix on low.  Add yeast mixture on low speed and mix until blended.
  3. On medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one.
  4. Gradually mix in softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Mixture should be smooth and similar to pancake batter.
  5. Cover and place in a warm space. Let rise until almost doubled, about 1/2 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  7. Grease and flour or spray 36 mini muffin pans with non stick cooking spray.
  8. Fill pans, about 3/4 full. Cover and let rise till batter reaches the top of the pans, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  9. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven. Let babas cool slightly in pans before removing. Carefully remove and add babas to rum syrup. Let soak.

Make rum syrup

  1. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in rum .

Glaze babas, if desired.

13. In a small pan, heat preserves over low heat. Strain. Brush babas and sprinkle with orange rind.

makes 36