Baba au Rhum-YUM!

I don’t have favorites when it comes to food. I don’t have a favorite cake. I don’t have a favorite meal and I don’t have a favorite restaurant. I get asked all the time and I can never really answer.
I do have favorite memories (and of course two favorite little girls!)
My grandparents owned a ravioli company in the North End of Boston. They were on Hanover Street for forty something years. I grew up in their “ravioli store”. In addition to my grandparents and my uncle Louie, there was Nadale, Julio, Charlie, Vinnie and lots of other’s who came in and out of the ravioli shop and were like family. Charlie would come in to ask if anybody wanted coffee from Modern Pastry across the street. Julio owned the shop next door and he would wander over to check in and talk about the neighborhood happenings. Nadale was my grandmother’s bookie and he would stop in at least once a day. Vinnie was…well that’s another story!
I would go “down to the ravioli store” on weekends and help make ravioli or wait on customers. My grandfather taught me how to make change when I was six.  He sat on a really tall wooden stool in the back room facing out to the front door. He would sit with his long legs crossed and peel head after head of garlic.  I wonder where that stool is today. I wish I had it.  
My Grandfather Tony Trio (left) and Julio
I remember one day it was pouring rain and my grandfather wanted to go around the corner to the produce shop. I went with him. I stayed close as I could to him, holding his hand under an umbrella. He was over six feet tall and walked always in a rush, with his toes pointed in, just like my daughter Rose. Everyone loved him. Anyway, the produce shop had a front that completely opened up. No doors you just walked from the sidewalk under an awning and you were inside a huge space filled with all kinds of produce. I remember the sawdust on the floor. I also remember that my grandfather would buy me prickly pears and pomegranates and big huge purple grapes that we would eat together.  My grandfather would always tease the man who owned the produce shop. Italian’s are very superstitious. You never put new shoes on top of a table. You are never to sweep close to someone’s feet, and you NEVER; I mean NEVER walk inside with an open umbrella. Do I have to tell you what my grandfather did on that rainy day as we entered the produce shop? You can guess.
Me and my Grandmother Genevieve Trio
After lunch my grandmother would send us out to Maria’s Pastry for dessert.  The cases at Maria’s were filled with cookies, pastries and cakes. The window always had a huge display of colorful marzipan fruits and vegetables. I was always tempted by the slices of marzipan watermelon but was always so disappointed when I took a bite and tasted the almond flavor. It was not until my parents opened their shop in Cambridge that I became addicted to marzipan (Sometimes for breakfast, at Cremaldi’s, I would have a piece of marzipan with my hot coffee. YUM!). At Maria’s, I would always choose a slice of rum cake with WHITE frosting, jimmies and a maraschino cherry on top. It was not a triangular slice of rum cake but a half moon shape that sat up inside a cupcake wrapper. Mmmmmmm…I loved those. The cake was so moist, dripping with rum and the custard in the middle was half chocolate and half vanilla. My grandfather always picked Baba au Rhum. 
Those are some of my favorite memories.
I have been craving a Baba Rum. I decided to try making one of my own. I think I did a very good job except I forgot the maraschino cherry on top!

baba molds
Here is the recipe:
Dough:
2 cups of unbleached flour
1/2 cup warm milk (115 degrees)
1 package of dry active yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Rum Syrup:
1 1/2 cups dark Rum
3 cups sugar
4 cups water 
Spray 12 Baba molds with non stick cooking spray or smear with butter. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment combine 1/2 cup of the flour, milk and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to raise until double in bulk.
When flour mixture has doubled use stand mixer and add eggs mixing until very well combined. 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining flour, sugar and salt. Mix well another 3 minutes. Drizzle melted butter in bowl as you continue mixing; beat for 4 more minutes.
Dough will be very elastic. Do the best you can to scoop dough out of bowl and into a pastry bag with a #806 tip or no tip at all. Squeeze the batter into the prepared molds until the are 1/3 full. Use a pair of scissors to cut the dough away from tip of pastry bag.
Put filled molds onto a sheet pan and place in a warm spot to raise for 30 minutes or until dough reaches top of mold. Make sure the molds are spread far enough apart so that Baba’s will not touch when being baked.
While Baba’s are raising put rum, sugar and water into medium size pot over medium flame and bring to a boil. Let sit on very low flame until Baba’s are finished.
Bake until golden brown about 25-30 minutes. Using a towel or pot holder carefully life one of the Baba’s out of mold to check the base for good brown color.  Cool completely on cooling rack.
When cool add a few at a time to rum syrup and submerge for 30 seconds- 1 minute. Place on platter or in plastic container.
Note:  After I soaked my Baba’s in the rum syrup I put them right into a tupperware container with a cover and stored them overnight. They were PERFECT in the morning when I had enough energy to make a vanilla pastry cream to fill the centers. You do not have to fill them. They are excellent hot out of the syrup with fresh whipped cream and berries or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


3 Comments

  1. Teddi K Wareham

    Oh Genevive – I just found your blog – wish you had more. I used to shop at the store in North Boston – I live in Colorado and would buy fresh pasta and sauce and bring it home. I have The Cremadli Cookbook and use it often. Post more often – you have a wonderful heritage to pass on. I will be checking back!!

  2. Marie

    I loved reading this one — my family had the same superstitions and I go NUTS when someone puts shoes on a tabletop (plus, I find it gross, even with new shoes).
    Thanks for sharing these memories.

  3. Dale

    Dearest Genevive, our mutual friend Courtney first shared your pages with me. I have followed you for a while but wanted you to know how much I enjoy your writing and pictures. Thank you!
    Robin

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