Friday, January 8, 2010

Baba Au Rhum

My Baba Au Rhum - Before

How to describe Baba Au Rhum to someone who has never tasted it?  Start with a thin rich yeast dough, bake it in a circle mold, drown it in orange juice, sugar syrup and Grand Marnier, stuff it with pastry cream, and plop a bunch of 'seasonal' berries on top.  When it is warm with liquor, it is pretty good, but as soon as that cake hits the cold Paris air, it is like sucking the sponge left outside after washing my car last winter.  OK. I might be taking a little bit of poetic license here, but I am not exaggerating the extent of the damage created by a very crowded metro ride home from school.  Click "Read More" to see the train wreck.

My Baba Au Rhum - After
Do NOT even try to send this photo to

Oh! Phew, I just heard the bathtub gurgle! which means, I might not have to buy a plunger.  Or call a French plumber - mon francais is not up to that conversation.  I guess I could just point to the tub, though.

JJ's Red Velvet Baba

Sorry, back to the first day of class.  Chef JJ was there, as happy as ever.  Luckily, the translators are back - so my pathetic French is not an issue.  There are more than 20 students in the class, some people from other Le Cordon Bleus, and some who caught up with me by taking the intensive Intermediate Pastry session while I was home playing Rukus with my nieces and nephews.   So we are in one class for demonstrations, and split into two groups for hands-on kitchen practicals.  I am happy that my friend Rebecca is in my practical group, as well as Mikako, from Japan.  The demonstration was the afore-mentioned Baba Au Rhum, and Kugelhopf.  Chef JJ is not a fan of rum, so he changes all the recipes to use another liquor, so technically, they were all Baba Au Grand Marnier. As usual, he makes the whole process look very easy, and even topped his Babas off with a candy apple red  spray paint job made of white chocolate and cocoa butter with red food coloring.  The basic Baba got the usual JJ treatment of fresh berries and pistachio dust.  I am not sure he ever travels without an emergency stash of those green nuts, just in case he happens upon a little lost pastry, and can save it with his super pistachios.

JJ's Baby Babas and Perfect Baba with Pistachio Bits

Happy to be back in the kitchen, quieter this time, all girls in my group.   My Baba turned out OK, with the exception of the pastry cream, which was so runny I couldn't use it, and borrowed a little from a classmate to complete my cake.  Really, after making pastry cream this many times, you would think that I would be able to do it correctly!  My mistake this time:  I tried to chill it in a small bowl, instead of the usual tray to get it cold faster, then tried to freeze it, to no avail.  If you are wondering, after I took a photo of the wrecked Baba Au Grand Marnier, I snagged a big spoonful of pastry cream and berries for dessert.

No, I didn't make the cheese souffle yet, it is on my list for the weekend. I was so surprised to see dinners by Joel Robouchon - "Chef of the Century" at my local Monop',  I made a delicious salad for dinner instead - vinaigrette with a little creme fraiche, arugula, tomatoes, orange segments, hard-boiled egg, and croutons of stale baguette.  It might sound a little odd, but it was a nice treat.

Be back soon to tell you all about my sugar-pulling woes.

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