250 gm(1 2/3 cups) “00” flour15 gmcaster sugar7 gmdried yeast (about 1 sachet)8eggs, at room temperature100 gmsoftened butter100 mleau de vie de poire (see note)250 ml (1 cup)pouring cream, whipped to soft peaks with 2 tbsp caster sugarPoached pears250 gmcaster sugar1vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped1cinnamon quill6small ripe, firm beurre Bosc pears, ends trimmed, thickly sliced crosswaysChocolate shards200 gmdark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), meltedFor dusting:pure icing sugar, sieved
Preheat oven to 200C. Combine flour, sugar, yeast, 3 eggs and 2gm fine salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until dough pulls away from sides of bowl (1-2 minutes). Add 3 eggs, mix until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl (1-2 minutes), add remaining eggs and beat until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Add butter a little at a time, beat after each addition until well-combined, cover and stand in a warm place until slightly risen (8-10 minutes).
Knock down dough and divide among six buttered 125ml metal dariole moulds, cover and stand in a warm place until dough rises to tops of moulds (12-15 minutes). Bake until golden and cooked through (12-15 minutes), turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, for poached pears, bring sugar, vanilla bean, seeds, cinnamon and 500ml water to the simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, add pear and poach until just tender (8-10 minutes). Remove pear with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain syrup into a clean pan, simmer until reduced to 500ml (2-3 minutes), then set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel pears and set aside until required.
Add babas to syrup and stand, turning occasionally, until saturated (12-15 minutes), then transfer to a wire rack. Then, 30 minutes before serving, spoon eau de vie over babas.
Meanwhile, for chocolate shards, pour melted chocolate onto a large sheet of baking paper, top with another large sheet of baking paper and roll to form a thin sheet. Refrigerate until crisp (8-10 minutes), break into rough shards, refrigerate until required. Just before serving, dust with icing sugar.
To serve, return babas to syrup and warm gently over low heat, then serve with poached pears, chocolate shards and whipped cream.
Note Eau de vie de poire is available from Spirit of France and select liquor shops.
This recipe is from the July 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.