LEMON BABAS

Aside from being a pet name for my partner, a baba is simply a small, yeasted cake soaked in syrup. The syrup is very often an alcohol laced one, and whilst that is just perfect in my eyes, I found limoncello a little too much here. 

(c) John Whaite 

Ingredients (makes 8)

For the Dough

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp salt 
  • 40g caster sugar 
  • Zest of 2 lemons 
  • 7g sachet fast action yeast 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 2tbsp milk 
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature 

For the Syrup

  • 200g caster sugar 
  • Juice of 3 lemons 
  • 150ml water 

For the Cream Filling 

  • 250g double cream 
  • 50g caster sugar 
  • Zest of 1 lemon 

Essential Equipment

  • 8 x small dariole moulds, greased and dusted with caster sugar. 
  • Piping bags 

Method

To make the dough toss together the flour, salt, sugar, zest and yeast in a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. In a jug, beat the eggs and milk together, then add to the flour. Mix vigorously for a good 5 minutes, until a very thick and very elastic dough forms. Slowly add the butter chunk by chunk, beating very well after each addition. Once the butter is all added, continue beating for a further 5 minutes, or until the dough is very glossy and elastic - save your energy and use the mixer if you have one! 

Cover the bowl with cling and allow the dough to rise until about doubled in volume. Pile the dough into a piping bag and divide it between the prepared moulds. Allow the dough to rest for a further 25 minutes, or until risen a little more. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Once the babas have risen, place them on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, or until golden brown. They should 'mushroom' over the top of the moulds.

Whilst the babas bake make the syrup. Put the sugar, lemon juice and water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for a minute, then remove from the heat. As soon as the babas come out of the oven, remove them from their moulds and drop into the syrup to soak for 10 minutes. 

Make the filling by whisking the cream, sugar and zest to soft peaks that just hold their shape. Load the filling into a piping bag. Once the babas are soaked and cool, slice each one down the centre, not quite cutting all the way through, and pipe swirls of cream into each.