Babas au gin & tonic

Babas au gin & tonic

Paris Pastry Club
Helen Cathcart

I always joke that my mum can only make three perfect desserts: vanilla pudding popsicles (which I remember eating one hot summer day of garage sales and neon tropeziennes sandals); upside-down pineapple cakes (which were always eaten first on my childhood birthdays); and baba au rhum. Her recipe has never failed me and, despite a few tweaks here and there, it’s always the one I use at home or in the restaurant kitchen.

She would serve hers as a giant savarin, soaked with more rum than you think you could handle and a big fluffy pile of whipped cream in the centre. In the summer, berries would always be folded into the cream with their juices. Perhaps this is why I like to serve mine (in the traditional bouchon shape) with a light raspberry syrup and a lot of gin and tonic, inside and on the side.

For the babas


Quantity Ingredient
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
20g honey
10g fresh yeast
5 eggs, beaten together
70g butter, softened

For the raspberry consommé

Quantity Ingredient
500g raspberries
50g caster sugar

For the raspberry gin and tonic syrup

Quantity Ingredient
300g water
500g caster sugar
200g tonic
200g gin

For the rose chantilly cream

Quantity Ingredient
400g whipping cream
40g icing sugar
1 tahitian vanilla pod, seeds
1 teaspoon rose extract
watermelon and fresh raspberries, to serve


  1. Start by making the babas. Using a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, salt, honey, yeast and half the eggs on a slow speed until it forms a rough dough. Add the remaining eggs, a little at a time, kneading on medium speed until incorporated. Crank up the speed to high and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough detaches from the edges of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, a little chunk at a time, until the dough is smooth and satiny.
  2. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise for around an hour until doubled in size. While the babas are proving, make the syrup.
  3. First make the consommé – place the raspberries and caster sugar into a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water and cook on low heat for an hour, stirring now and then. Transfer to a sieve lined with muslin cloth and drain without pushing. Discard the raspberries and keep the juices.
  4. Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a large pan to dissolve the sugar. Take off the heat, add the consommé and when the syrup reaches 60°C, add the tonic and the gin. (You can make the syrup in advance and reheat when ready to soak the babas.)
  5. Back to the babas … Butter 12 dariole moulds and preheat the oven to 195°C. Quickly mix the dough using a wooden spoon to deflate it then tip into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe 40 g into each mould and leave to rise until the dough almost reaches the top of the moulds.
  6. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until deep-brown and fragrant. Leave the babas to cool down slightly before turning out. You can freeze them for later or use them straight away.
  7. Use your syrup straight away when it is at 60°C or reheat to this temperature if you have made it in advance. Place the babas in the hot syrup and soak for 1 hour, flipping them around every 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the babas from the syrup using a slotted spoon and leave to cool on a wire-rack set over a baking tray. Chill, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a day.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, make the rose chantilly cream: whisk all the ingredients together until firm peaks form.
  10. Lay out 4 soup plates, place a baba in each, arrange some fresh raspberries and watermelon cubes around and generously drizzle with the cold gin and tonic syrup. Finish with a fat dollop of the cream.
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