Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweet Simplicity

Babà al Rhum is a classic Neapolitan pastry with Polish roots that came to Naples by way of Paris. Confused? Such is Italian, and Neapolitan, history. The babà was invented by a Polish king whose daughter Marie was married to Louis XV of France. According to the legend, this former king dipped a slice of kugelhopf (an Austrian pastry, half-brioche and half panettone) into a glass of Madeira, and what would become the babà was born.
Baba al Rhum
Pastry Chef Tom Wellings' Babà al Rhum.

Variations in the dough technique and the liquor used to soak the pastry evolved the Babà from the courts of Versailles to the streets of Naples into what we know today; a yeasted buttery cake soaked in rum. 

Fiola Pastry Chef Tom Wellings' version of this iconic dessert is a plump dome, which is proofed, baked, then soaked twice in a sweet syrup flavored with lemon and orange zests, vanilla bean and dark rum. Finally the Babà are dipped in blood orange glaze. 

To accompany the Babà, Chef Tom makes a caramel flavored with Szechuan peppercorns, which is combined with juicy pineapple rounds and then cooked slowly for approximately 40 minutes. Spicy, sweet and somewhat acidic, Szechuan peppercorns impart an intoxicating hint of pine and cedar.

Pastry Chef Tom Wellings