Festive Champagne Babas with the BBB

It's almost the end of 2017, and what better way to ring in the New Year or celebrate the Holidays, than with champagne?  Or whatever bubbly you prefer of course!  Join the BBB in making Champagne Babas:  These delightful yeast cakes are a spin off the traditional Rum Baba.  So of course you may choose another liquor or dessert wine or even flavor with a light colored fruit juice (like pineapple juice) for an alcohol free option.  These can be made as one large Baba, (think panettone mold size), or as 12 individual sized Babas.  In my case I made six due to the pans I had available, but truly, you have to split one of that size with someone else, so if you don't want to share, try for the twelve!  I did have a cast iron popover pan that would probably have been the perfect size, but it only baked six and I had never used it before, so I opted for the more familiar mini bundt pan to use when baking mine.  I also suspect that a popover pan might be slightly narrower at the bottom than a Baba mold.  But as you can see, the cakes will nicely fill whatever mold you may have so long as they aren't filled more than halfway, as the dough rises quite a bit!

Bread flour is recommended for this dough because it is very batter like and needs to be worked well to activate the gluten properly.  That said, I used King Arthur all purpose and they turned out lovely.  I believe that American all purpose flours generally have a higher protein content than European all purpose, so they may be closer to bread flour in practical use.  So I would say a strong flour, or a well worked all purpose flour will do.  And as we said, you may choose champagne or another sparkling wine, spirit, or juice for the syrup.  It does not call for that much, only around half a cup volume, 120g, split between 12 Babas equates to ~two teaspoons alcohol per Baba.  And if you simmer the syrup, the alcohol content is reduced.  (Alcohol is reduced to 85% if simply added to boiling syrup and removed from heat, and reduced to 40% if simmered 15 minutes, though that will thicken the syrup and water would need to be added.)  I used half Prosecco and half Limoncello and the flavor was amazing!  Don't be afraid of the amount of syrup you are adding to the cakes, they soak it up without getting soggy, and since the dough is not a sweet dough, the final level of sweetness is appropriate for a cake.

This is an easy, yet impressive recipe, I highly recommend trying it out! My kids thought these were fabulous.  We'd love for you to bake some Babas and share your results with us!  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to the host kitchen (notitievanlien (at) gmail (dot) com) by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Champagne Babas
makes one large Baba, 6 mini, or 12 individual Babas
100g water
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
100g bread flour

180g bread flour
½ tsp fine salt
¼ tsp instant dry yeast
1½ tsp vanilla sugar
3 large eggs
90g melted butter, slightly cooled

soaking syrup:
150g sugar
150g water
120g champagne (or Asti Spumante or fruit juice)

200g apricot jam (or use a sugar glaze)

Mix all the sponge ingredients together in a large bowl (the same bowl you will be using to knead the dough).  Sprinkle the 180g bread flour for the dough over the sponge so that it is fully covered and leave it to rest for about an hour.

After an hour add the salt, ¼ tsp dry yeast, vanilla sugar and eggs.  (This time is flexible, I got distracted and it was close to 105 minutes for me!)  Start to mix the dough.  Use the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer.  When the dough comes together after a few minutes, add the cooled, melted butter and keep working it.  This dough is somewhat batter-like, but be sure to get some gluten developed to ensure a good rise.

For one large Baba:

Place dough in the mold.  You can use a loaf tin or a tall, round baking form like a paper Panettone mold (13.4cm x 9.5cm), filled about half way up.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until 2-3 cm below the rim of the mold. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350-360ºF).

Bake for about 45-55 minutes until golden brown on top.  If the bread browns too soon, cover the top with a sheet of foil.  To check the bread for doneness with a thermometer, it should read about 93ºC (~200ºF) in the center.

Take out of the oven and remove from tin.  Place on a deep dish and poke the bread with a long wooden skewer all over from top to bottom. Brush the syrup all over it, getting as much as possible inside the bread.  This will take some time. Collect the syrup from the plate and keep pouring and brushing it, until it has all been absorbed in the bread.  If the bread is not completely soaked, you can make some extra syrup to brush on when serving.

For 6 or 12 small babas:

Grease a tray with 6 medium to 12 small cavities (containing about 75ml for small or 150ml for medium) and divide the dough among them. The dough should not be filling more than half of the mold.  Cover with plastic and allow to rise until almost to the rim.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350-360ºF).

Place in the oven and bake for about 15-18 minutes.  The babas should be nicely golden on top. Check  the bread with a thermometer, it should be about 93ºC (~200ºF) when done.

Take the babas out of the oven and remove from their molds.  Place them in a wide shallow dish in one layer.  Pour the champagne syrup over the babas.  Continue turning the babas one by one on all sides, including top and bottom, until the syrup is completely absorbed. You can also brush over the tops with a pastry brush.  I did poke my medium sized babas with a small metal skewer.

Topping and serving:

Heat the apricot jam in a small pan and bring to a light boil, adding a little water if it is too thick. Brush or pour over the top of the baba(s).  You can also opt for a simple sugar glaze. This topping will help keep the moisture in.  If you eat the babas on the baking day, you can skip the topping.  (But it tastes fabulous, so I recommend it!)

To serve as for a traditional rum baba, and for an extra festive feel, garnish with whipped cream and fresh fruit or jam.  The baba is best eaten on the day that it’s baked but may be kept in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for a few days.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

I added a little extra jam in the center of my baba since there was a well in the mini bundt.

Enjoy these rich and scrumptious dessert breads with friends!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes:

Approximate nutrition for one half mini bundt or one single Baba:


  1. Your mini bundts are adorable, and I love the idea of limoncello. And your piping skills!! Wow!

  2. Thanks Karen! I have a cherished set of piping tips that was given to me by a friend from her Grandparent's old bakery. This Ateco #5 open star tip is my very favorite for piping whipped cream and soft serve frozen sorbets and desserts.

  3. That whipped cream on top is like a bouquet of flowers, so pretty. That mini bundt shape is also handy to get the syrup in from all sides. Then place some jam in the middle topped with that beautiful piped cream. A winner!

  4. I have never had a 'baba', rum or other.... I think I'm missing out on something. These look wonderful!

  5. Oh my Kelly, those are fabulous. Yes I have that pan and can immediately see it would be perfect for these but alas mine is packed somewhere in a box of to many ... one day there might be unpacking.
    I wish I'd made two or even three times the syrup, mine would have soaked up much more.
    The whip cream is just glorious, as Lien says like a bouquet of flowers.

  6. Oh!! I KNEW that using a fluted pan would make the babas even more spectacular. Yours are gorgeous. And wow. The cream is patterned too. I bow down to you.

  7. Your babas look exquisite! I love the mini Bundt pan molds and the way you filled them with cream! Very nice!


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