Friday, July 13, 2007

Baba Who?

Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup

We are now smack bang in the middle of winter and I can feel it. As I sit on the couch, in my warmest winter woollies, thick socks, scarf and if I didn’t have to type I would probably have a pair of gloves on too. Sydney homes weren’t really made for frosty conditions; they were built more to withstand those harsh Australian summers most people know about. But it appears that the construction industry seems to forget that we have winters down here too, and it gets pretty darn cold.

You will hear me every winter, every year, complain about the cold, and I realise that what I mean by “cold” is quite feeble compared to what other people go through in say, Canada and Upper Siberia. It’s not even cold enough to garner any snow here, but no matter how you look at it, to me cold is cold. It’s cold when you can feel it in your bones, and feel it in my bones I do.

Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup

So when on the hunt for recipes, all I was looking for was something to warm me up. Now after having a pumpkin stew for dinner, I needed something to finish off on the same note-something hearty without being heavy, and something warm and soothing without being to cloying- perhaps something equivalent to a big warm hug from your grandmother.

I decided that the only thing for dessert were these warm babas that I spotted in a Donna Hay Magazine. The recipe was initially for orange flavoured babas, but I had no oranges at home, only a bag of clementines in the fridge. Clementines are more like mandarins, than oranges, but nonetheless these were a great substitute. I also found some spare wattleseed lying around in the pantry and since I learned that wattleseeds go extremely well with citrus flavours, there was no going back, the babas’ fate was sealed.


These babas are somewhat akin to a Baba Au Rhum or a savarin but minus the rum. It might not sound as fun without the rum, but let me assure you, it tasted a treat. Whoever it was that told me that wattleseeds go well with citrus wasn’t wrong. The wattleseeds’ nuttiness was highlighted even more by the clementines sweetness and the vanilla bean speckled syrup adds another dimension of flavour.

Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup

The syrup is what brings these babas to life, without it, I guess they wouldn’t even be babas to begin with. They would simply be lifeless mounds of dough, almost flavourless, but with the drenching in syrup, these little cakes are just the thing to bring a spring in your step on a cold winter’s night.

Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup

Inside the babas, you will find a soft billowing dough that, if you are lucky enough to have them straight from the oven will be steaming wafts of citrus scented perfume.

Warm Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup

from Donna Hay Magazine (issue 8)
Serves 6

Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup lukewarm milk
1 cup plain all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground wattleseed
2 tbsp clementine zest
1 tbsp sugar, extra
1 egg
90g unsalted butter, softened, diced

1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup clementine juice
2 tbsp shredded clementine zest
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped

Place the yeast, sugar and milk in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles start to appear on the surface.
Place the flour, wattleseed, clementine zest and extra sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, or a food processor.
While the motor is running, add the yeast mixture and egg then the butter, a little at a time.
Beat for 4 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel.
Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Grease 6 x ½ cup capacity ovenproof moulds or ramekins and line with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough then divide into 6 and place in the moulds, smoothing the tops.
Set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes or until the dough almost fills the tins.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow the babas to stand in the tins for 5 minutes.

While the babas are baking, make the syrup.
Place the sugar, water, clementine juice, zest and vanilla beans and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar is dissolved then boil for 5-6 minutes.
Remove the babas from the tins, discard the parchment paper and pour over the syrup.


leonine194 said...

hmmmm, delicious!

Patricia Scarpin said...

It looks delicious, Jenjen - so drenched in the syrup!

I love the DH magazines.

Andreea said...

i first read 'winter' only to go 'huh?'. then of course i read sydney :)
love the babas. donna hay is not that popular here so thanks for sharing this recipe.

Inne said...

your Sydney winter sounds much like my London summer, Jen (sort of). the babas look absolutely delicious!

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. Beautiful. Your photos are so delicious!

I'm kind of embarassed because when I read this post I was like, "Winter? What in the world?" Then I see you are in Australia!

Vic Cherikoff said...

Hey Jenjen,

Great use of my Wattleseed and to be honest, I have never thought of putting Wattleseed with citrus but now that you mention it, of course it would suit perfectly. Thanks heaps for that.

I'll link to your recipe from my website if you don't mind.

I guess that this is something about authentic Australian food in that there are no rules of combination. Maybe one or two relating to the best use of the ingredients such as Wattleseed needs to be baked or pre-boiled in water, cream, milk etc to soften the grounds but I am about to launch a new Wattleseed paste which will even make this redundant.
Another 'rule' is that many of the herbs like lemon myrtle sprinkle are best treated like you would basil or coriander (cilantro) and add them last rather than trying to cook-in the flavour. Heat liberates the aromatics meaning the kitchen will smell great but the food will be underwhelming.

Jenjen, email me your address and I'll send you some samples of my ingredients to play with. I'm sure you'll come up with ideas I would never think of myself.

monica said...

now this is what i call comfort! they looks absolutely delicious! thanks for sharing the recipe

Helene said...

Great minds think alike...: I just took a batch out of the oven. Special request from the husband for tomorrow. Yours lok fantastic!

Linda said...

This looks absolutely fantastic! Your photographs are so beautiful to look at, I wish I was able to take photos like you for my blog!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I think this is going to have to be the last cooking/food blog I surf to add to my cooking link directory today, because I'm getting soooooo hungry looking at your pictures and reading about this. Thank you for posting such a delicious-looking recipe!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of babas before. They look too pretty to eat, Jen.

Jerry said...

Jenjen where did you get your little cake/cupcake mold? I've seen you use it multiple times and it looks fantastic!

Anonymous said...

oh my Gooooshh!!! I'm craving for this recipe!! Jenjen, guess what? I am completly Baba!

Deborah aka Miss Bee said...

I don't know what "wattleseed" is, but is surely cannot be a bad thing! OH, these look delicious!!
I had to scroll back up to check the date when you said it was winter there! Thought maybe I had come upon an out-of-date blog. LOL! Winter in Australia, huh?! Stay warm!