Rum babas are a bit of a labour of love but so worth it. A common supermarket dessert of the 80’s they have disappeared seemingly without trace these days so I had to start making them. This Phil Vickery recipe is no longer available online but it has given me failsafe babas for 6 or more years now and the splashed and stained print out is getting harder to read so I thought I’d better immortalise the recipe now.
Essentially rum babas are a sweetened bread dough bathed in a rum syrup until swollen and heavy. You can top them with plain or sweetened cream and I opted for juicy Kentish cherries over glace ones. I make the recipe below and freeze most of them before their rum bath then defrost them when required and make up the rum syrup and soak overnight ahead of the meal.
On Friday night I was lucky enough to win tickets to Havana Club’s ‘Nothing Compares to Havana’ rum tasting evening at Kettners in Soho where we learnt about the history of rum, made mojitos in a cocktail making workshop and sipped aged single barrel rum paired with Cuban chocolate. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me and to be honest by the end of the evening there was no hope of controlling manual DSLR settings!
It dawned on me on my way home that these were the first really good bar made mojitos since my trip to Cuba back in 2011. Following that trip, I become a massive fan of Havana Club rums and a mojito snob. I rarely order them in London now as they usually taste sour or too much like washing up liquid and I ineviatably end up sending them back, preferring to make them myself at home. Most bars serve them with crushed ice which dilutes the flavour too much so be sure to use ice cubes as they do in Cuba. Sparkling water is also more authentic than soda but either is fine.
I’m sure you have already noticed my ‘make everything mojito favoured’ obsession in my previous posts for mojito ice cream and cupcakes so thought it was about time I shared the recipe for the correct way to make my favourite, and the most popular cocktail in the world.
Inspired by Nigella’s No Churn Margarita Ice Cream I set about making a rum based alternative as tequila seems to affect me much as I imagine drinking drain cleaner would. For this mojito ice cream, I reduced the amount of cream to 300ml and made it up to 500ml with 200ml whole milk to make it lower fat and used my ice cream maker but if you don’t have an ice cream maker, omit the milk and use 500ml double cream then whip all the ingredients together before freezing overnight as Nigella suggests. I chill the ice cream maker bowl for at least 48 hours before churning.
I came across this Sarah Randell recipe for Strawberry Daiquiri Pavlova in the June issue of Sainsbury’s Magazine and being a huge fan of rum and pavlova knew I had to give this a go. Having always been daunted by making meringue I decided to bite the bullet a few weeks ago and I’m so glad I did. This dessert is what dreams are made of! The addition of vinegar gives the meringue a cloud like centre and the lime juice and zest cut through the sweetness leaving you with a perfect boozy BBQ show stopper. And what’s better, you can make the meringue and store it in an airtight container for a few days before needed.
My friend and awesome instagrammer Natalie hosted an Instagrammers London BBQ at the weekend so I took my chance to make this again and offered to bring along dessert. I can see this becoming a regular fixture in my baking repertoire so simple to make but so delicious.
Finally the sun is shining and it was my friend Helen’s birthday last week so that could mean only one thing….cocktail inspired cupcakes!
I visited Cuba two years ago and this idea was born whilst chatting to our tour guide Leoel. He came from a family of bakers and he was telling me about Cuban tradition of a massive tray bake sponge cake soaked in sugar syrup and iced to protect it from drying out the harsh sun as the bakers carried the trays on their shoulders selling squares of cake to passers-by on scraps of cardboard.
I asked him if there was a mojito flavoured cake and he said no. We sat in the sun and dreamt up with a light vanilla sponge soaked in a mojito reduction syrup topped with creamy rum and lime icing. I came back, researched and tested recipes and came up with this. A love child of a few mojito cake recipes which together fit the brief we set in Cuba. I like to think Leoel’s father is now selling a mojito cake similar to this.
You can also use a 20x30cm tray bake tin rather than individual cupcakes which I find feeds a BBQ crowd well. Bake for 20-30 minutes.