Better Late Than Never not-Champagne Babas (BBB December 2017)

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cork BBB Dec 2017 summary: recipe for Champagne Babas; substituting more affordable sparkling wine from Argentina; using commercial yeast instead of wild yeast; a Bread Baking Babes project;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) December 2017: Champagne Baba

BBB Champagne Baba

Well, I considered translating this into a recipe with wild yeast….

And then I realized that it would prove that I’m completely out of my mind. This is dough that has egg and butter and sugar. Like brioche. Eeeeeeek!!

Yes. Commercial yeast is the wiser ingredient, isn’t it? Maybe next time I’ll try with wild yeast. Maybe….

Having had Rum Babas years ago that T made when we first got our food processor (it came with a recipe book), I knew that babas shouldn’t be that hard to make. Especially if I did everything by hand instead of hauling out the food processor….

We loved rum babas so we should love champagne baba too.

Baba is a traditional bistro dessert. Its round cylindrical shape crosses over perfectly to tall bread machine pans. […] Baba is plump like a plush toy—soaked in a spirited champagne syrup, glazed, and then cut into wedges or slices to serve with sweetened whipped cream. Serve it the day it is made or no more than one day later for the best texture.
– Beth Hensperger, Champagne-soaked Baba, Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook: A Master Baker’s 300 Favorite Recipes for Perfect-Every-Time Bread-From Every Kind of Machine, p.521

Here’s how things went:

BBB Champagne Baba diary:

10 December 2017, 20:27 I love the idea of making small babas instead of one large one. BUT I have Mum’s beautiful decorative cake/pudding tin. What to do. What to do.

I’m afraid that I’m going to be late with this though. I’m so sorry! I have out-of-town concerts galore this month. The last on is on 17th which is already a day late….

17 December 2017, 11:10 I hope to bake tomorrow and will post Tuesday or Wednesday… I’ll be making the sponge when I get back tonight from about 100km north of the city after the last (for me) Christmas concert of the season. (I sure hope the highway isn’t snow-covered!)

We’re really looking forward to this – we got apricot jam AND a half bottle of prosecco. (At least, I think that it was prosecco that we finally settled on.)

18 December, 10:03 I’m happy to report that the dough is mixed. Did I remember to make the sponge last night? Of course I didn’t. I was too busy relaxing and relishing the wonderful dinner that T made after I got home from yesterday’s concert.

So, this morning, I made an executive decision. Actually, I made three executive decisions. First, I decided to make half the recipe. Then, after shovelling the front walk (why is it snowing in December?!), I decided it would be easier to divide a recipe that calls for 3 eggs into 3 – I would make a third of the recipe. As I was getting the eggs out, I saw that there were two fractionally smaller eggs in the dozen giant sized eggs we got from our friends, J and J.

I switched back to making half the recipe. I put the eggs onto an oven rack to warm them up as I mixed the rest of the dough.

Shriek!!! I watch an egg roll onto the oven floor. As I quickly bent into the oven to stop the other egg from doing the same thi…. Too late!! It too rolled onto the oven floor, deking away from my hand as I tried to catch it in mid air.

Well. Let’s play the Glad Game: I’m GLAD the eggs rolled onto the oven floor. I couldn’t quite gather up all the whites so it means I really do have one and a half eggs to put into the dough. I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the flour. How perfect. :lalala:

Having already transgressed by a.) being late and b.) making this a same-day bread, I decided to substitute some of the flour with wheat germ and flax seed.

The dough is now languishing in the oven with only the light on. I hope it rises!

13:11 I don’t know if it’s my imagination that the dough is rising. But if it is, it has hardly moved. However, it is beautifully soft and silky.

fluted pan We had a brief discussion about whether I would use Mum’s beautiful fluted tube pudding container to make one large baba, or if I’d make individual babas. Ha. I say discussion. But it wasn’t really a discussion. Suffice it to say that it has been decreed that we will have individual babas. Okay. They won’t be as pretty but I have to admit that it makes sense.

I was curious to see what the cookbooks on our shelves have to say. Surprisingly, only 3 of them appear to even mention babas. It comes as no surprise that the instructions in “La Cuisine” leave a fair amount to be desired. Fill to how full?? How warm?? How much should the dough rise??

5. For savarins […] place the dough in a greased 200mm/8in ring mould level to the top and leave to rise in a lightly oiled polythene bag until the dough has doubled in size.
-Braun Cookbook Editors, ‘Basic recipe for sweet yeast dough (Savarian or Baba)’, The Cookbook for the Braun Multipractic Plus and Multipractic Plus electronic, p.88
Butter 8 baba molds and fill with dough. Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
-Valérie-Anne Létoile, Monique Maine, Madeleine Peter, ‘Babas au rhum’, La Cuisine: The Complete Book of French Cooking, p.478
Place [the Bundkuchen or Brioche dough] in a greased 8-inch tube pan. […] You may serve individual baba cakes. Bake them in greased muffin or popover tins.
-Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, ‘Baba au rhum or Savarin’, Joy of Cooking, p.689

14:37 I just realized that we neeeeeeeed whipping cream to go with this. There’s still too much snow on the road to ride our bikes and the walk to the big nearby supermarket is unpleasant. So we walked through the neighbourhood to our high street with all the vegetable stores as well as some convenience stores and a small grocery store (owned by a huge conglomerate). A container of whipping cream at the grocery store was almost a dollar more than at the convenience store across the street. We decided to punish the grocery store and buy cream from the convenience store.

16:08 Yay! The dough is rising. And now I see that I was supposed to have put the dough into the tin. (Sigh, one of these days, I’ll learn to read.)

When it comes together after a few minutes, add the melted (and slightly cooled) butter and keep working it. The dough is a bit batterlike, but be sure to get some gluten developed. […] Grease a tray with 12 little moulds (containing about 75 ml each) and divide the dough in them. The dough shouldn’t be filling more than half of the shapes. Cover with plastic and let rise until almost to the rim. […] Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 18 minutes, The baba’s should be golden on top. Check the temperature in the bread with a thermometer, it should be about 93ºC.
Take them out of the oven and out of the mould. Place them in a wide shallow dish in one layer. Pour the champagne syrup over the baba’s.
-BBB December 2017 recipe

Hey! What syrup? Yes. I’m challenged about the syrup part. When making the syrup, I wonder how long I should boil the sugar and water? And do I add the champagne before or after removing the hot liquidized sugar from the heat?

Alas, it’s true. I need everything spelled out…. Luckily, Beth Hensperger’s instructions are online at Google Books. I don’t know if this is the very same recipe that Lien based the BBB recipe on, but it seems pretty close:

2. Meanwhile make the soaking syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small pan and heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Cool until warm. Add the champagne; set aside.
-Beth Hensperger, Champagne-soaked Babs, Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook: A Master Baker’s 300 Favorite Recipes for Perfect-Every-Time Bread-From Every Kind of Machine, p.521

In the meantime, lovely Lien answered my pathetic cry for help.

I’m taking too much for granted.
Water and sugar to a boil or simmer until all sugar is dissolved. Take pan off the heat and add champagne (or whatever you picked)
-Lien, message to BBBabes

Trapiche 18:10 We opened the not-champagne (ha! what a memory I have. Now that I see the full size bottle, I remember that while we were at the store, we nixed the half bottles of Freixenet and Prosecco and chose a full bottle of Argentinian Trapiche Extra Brut instead). The syrup is now made and cooling. We’ll wait until the last minute before opening the champagne, or rather, the not-champagne, considering that it’s from South America. We’re having it with Chinese-style pork, peanuts and chiles for dinner. It should be perfect!

This delicate Sparkling Wine of fine, persistent bubbles is elaborated with Chardonnay, Semillon and Malbec grapes. A careful second fermentation confers aromas and flavors that reminisce of ripe pinaeapple and bread crust.
-Vins Philippe Dandurand Wines, Trapiche Extra Brut Sparkling, 2017
Pale straw with green tint; pear, lime and citrus aromas; dry, medium weight; crisp citrus finish
LCBO, Trapiche Extra Brut Sparkling, LCBO#262261

18:47 Not-champagne syrup is now ready to go and apricot jam measured. The babas are in the oven and I’m just waiting for the bell to ring.

19:11 They are nicely domed but not dramatically mushroom shaped the way Lien’s were. Phooey. Still, they look pretty good. We popped them with ease out of the muffin tins and put them into a square pyrex casserole dish, poked them with the cake tester (it’s a skewer) and then started pouring not-champagne syrup overtop. For a minute or so, I thought the syrup wouldn’t all get absorbed. So I moved each baba into its own pyrex dish to distribute the extra syrup evenly. The babas sucked up every ounce!

BBB Champagne BabasBBB Champagne BabasChampagne Babas

21:08 Dessert time!! It took no time to heat the apricot jam and slather it over the babas, as T whipped cream.

Ooooooh, they look fantastic!!

BBB Champagne Babas

Here is the BBB December 2017 Champagne Baba recipe we were given. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Champagne Babas

based on a recipe for Champagne-soaked Baba by Beth Hensperger

makes six babas


  • 45g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1.5 large eggs, room temperature (initially 2 but some was lost….)
  • 110g Flour:
       » 86g unbleached all-purpose
       » 4g 100% whole wheat
       » 4g wheat germ
       » 6g vital wheat gluten
       » 10g flax seed, finely ground
  • 0.5 Tbsp sugar
  • 3g kosher salt
  • 0.25 tsp vanilla (Lien calls for 0.75 tsp vanilla sugar, but we don’t have vanilla sugar, so I guessed)
  • ~25g body temperature water (it was supposed to be 50g but I actually forgot the water and then added some because the dough was too dry AND I needed some water to activate the yeast)
  • 0.5 tsp (4.5g) active dry yeast

Soaking Syrup

  • 75g sugar
  • 75g water
  • 60g not-champagne (sparkling white)


  • heavy cream, whipped
  • pinch sugar
  • 100g apricot jam
  • splash water, optional
  1. mixing: Melt butter. Set aside to cool.
  2. If the eggs are still cold from the fridge, do as I say, not as I did: Do not to drop them on the oven floor in an attempt to warm them in the oven with only the light on. Instead, place them (uncracked) into a dish of warm water.
  3. Dump dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Add eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Whisk yeast and water together in a small bowl until the yeast has dissolved. (I know it’s unnecessary for me to repeat the instruction about heating the water in a kettle because you should NEVER use water from the hot water tap, but I just can’t stop myself….) Add the yeasted water to the rest of the dough ingredients and stir everything together with a dough whisk. Put a plate over the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes
  5. kneading: Using one hand to turn the bowl and the other to dig down to the bottom to lift the dough up to the top, turn, fold, turn, fold, etc. the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic. As you knead, resist any temptation to add more flour or water.
  6. Once the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with a plate and allow the dough to rise, until almost completely doubled, in the oven with only the light turned on. *** Apparently, it’s here that you’re supposed to evenly divide the dough and put it into buttered muffin tins***
  7. shaping: When the dough has almost doubled, realized that you were SUPPOSED to have it in its muffin tins already. Waffle a little about whether to use Mum’s beautiful fluted pudding tin again and then cave in to butter 6 muffin tins instead. Divide the dough evenly into the tins. Cover with an overturned casserole dish and leave in the oven with only the light turned on to rise to double.
  8. syrup: Stir water and sugar together in a small pot until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until the syrup is “warm”. At that point, add the sparkling wine. Cover and set aside.
  9. baking: When the dough has doubled, with a rack placed on the top shelf – to prevent the babas from burning on the bottoms, preheat the oven to 375F. (Don’t forget to empty the oven first!) When the oven is hot, put the babas on the top shelf, immediately turn the oven to 350F and bake for 18 minutes until they are domed and golden brown on top.
  10. Remove the babas from the tins into a deep-ish casserole dish. Poke each one several times with a thin skewer and slowly pour the syrup overtop. Keep spooning the syrup over the babas until the syrup is absorbed. (This takes about 5 minutes or so.)
  11. topping: While whipping the cream and sugar, heat the apricot jam in a small pot until it is smooth and runny. If it seems too thick, add a little water. Slather each baba with the warm apricot jam, keeping aside a small amount of jam for serving.
  12. serving: Place each baba on a small plate. Liberally spoon whipped cream over each baba. Spoon the reserved jam on top of the cream. Dig in.


same day baba: The BBB recipe starts with a sponge made the night before. Because I was late, I gave myself permission to turn the recipe into a same day recipe. When we make these again (we’re definitely going to) here’s how the ingredients list will look:

   » 50g body-temperature water
   » a few grains active dry yeast
   » 50g unbleached all-purpose flour
The evening before baking, mix together in a bowl. Put a plate on the bowl and leave overnight in the oven with only the light on.
   »    » splash body temperature water
   » 0.5 tsp (4.5g) active dry yeast
   » all of the sponge
   » 38g unbleached all-purpose flour
   » 4g 100% whole wheat flour
   » 4g wheat germ
   » 6g vital wheat gluten
   » 10g flax seed, finely ground
   » 0.5 Tbsp sugar
   » 1.5 large eggs
   » 45g unsalted butter, melted
   » 0.25 tsp vanilla
   » 3g kosher salt
Rehydrate the yeast in a splash of water before adding it to bubbling sponge. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead


We LOVED these! I particularly like the lightness of the sparkling wine (as opposed to rum that we’ve had before) and the apricot jam addition is brilliant.

Of course, after taking the official photos, we glopped even more cream onto each baba. Because it’s the start of the festive season. And it’s cold. We need the fat to keep us warm. :-) :-)

BBB Champagne Baba

How wonderful! Once again, the BBBabes have caused me to make something I wouldn’t have normally even noticed, let alone decided to bake.

Thank you for an excellent choice, Lien!

Bread Baking Babes BBB Dec 2017
Beth Hensberger’s Champagne Baba

Lien is our host for December 2017’s Bread Baking Babes‘ project. She wrote:

For the holiday season I’d like us to bake some Baba’s. A syrup drowned brioche-like bread. […] [T]o make it even more festive this one is drenched with a champagne-based syrup. You can choose another liquor or dessert wine or flavour with a light coloured fruit juice (like pineapple juice) to your liking.
You can make one large or smaller baba’s. The large one makes a nice centre piece when you’re having it for dessert, but it is a lot harder to get soaked enough. I made some extra soaking syrup in a little jar to pour over when served, to solve this.
– Lien

We know you’ll want to make Champagne Baba(s) too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 December 2017. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ December 2017 bread.


BBB Champagne Baba


15 responses to “Better Late Than Never not-Champagne Babas (BBB December 2017)

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Yes, off the oven floor. NOT off the kitchen floor; that would have been too horrifying. (T was even shocked that I used the ones off the oven floor, worried that there might be cinders. But I reckon that the oven floor gets sterilized every time we bake bread at 400F so even if there were cinders – there weren’t any – they’d be clean cinders.)

      Glad you’re pleased with the woeful aspect. I live to serve. :lalala:

      1. Kelly

        Nah, I just used some purchased Nielsen Massey vanilla paste. I don’t use it often because it has added sugar and gum tragacanth for thickening, but it does have those lovely little vanilla bean seed specks in it! But come to think of it, I do have a bag of vanilla bean powder, so I could always add that to regular vanilla for speckles.

        1. Elizabeth Post author

          One Christmas, our excellent neighbour gave us a little bottle of vanilla extract that she made by soaking vanilla pods in vodka. It’s fabulous vanilla extract and so much better – more vanilla-ey – than commercial extract. The beauty of it is that she gave some to all her friends and some of them GAVE IT BACK TO HER BECAUSE THEY SAID THEY’D NEVER USE IT!!! She asked us if we would mind taking the reject bottles. Ha! As if she had to ask.

          (I don’t even know what vanilla paste or powder is. But I really like that the paste you got has vanilla bean specks in it. Hmmmmm. I wonder if we could make vanilla paste out of the vanilla beans in the extract bottle, once the extract is finished. )

          1. Kelly

            I did use a homemade vanilla extract like that for years! It is wonderful, but you do have tokeep adding or changing out the vanilla beans if you plan on adding more alcohol to it. I used vodka for mine I think and even adding beans I had used, it has now extracted everything possible from the 8 or so beans in there and is very light in color. I need to switch out the beans to get it back to proper vanilla strength! The vanilla powder I got from an herbal company and it is just that, powdered pulverized vanilla bean pods and seeds. Delectable smell!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      The sparkling Argentinian wine was very good, Karen. We didn’t get the pineapple that was promised on the bottle’s label, but the citrus notes are definitely there. The bubbles were beautifully small and fine.

  1. katiezel

    Looks good; sounds good…. I’m just not sure I can get the image of eggs rolling onto the oven floor out of my mind. Especially as I’m baking some cookies today. But – thanks. I’m off to get the eggs out of the fridge.

  2. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Yes I fear without the babes I’d be baking oatmeal bread loaves and nothing interesting like these. I really do have to try the individual ones and make more syrup. Here yours look perfectly gorgeous! Love the whip cream. It is crazy how you think one store will be more expensive and then they turn out to be the less expensive.

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Yes, do try making individual ones – even though the bread is so pretty made in a bundt pan. The real beauty of the individual ones is that there’s more golden crust. We love the slight toughness and chewiness that doesn’t disappear, no matter how much syrup is added. T sloshed on a glug of rum to his baba last night – he said it was fantastically good. He decreed that babas are what he wants as birthday cake from now on.

      Oooooh!!! I just had a thought: make a kirsch syrup for the babas and serve them with cherries and a dark chocolate sauce. And whipped cream. Of course.

      I’m shocked that the big conglomerate has higher prices than a little Mom and Pop corner convenience store. I feel certain that neither store is doing any price checking on each other. But shame on the big conglomerate for price gouging. (When we moved into the neighbourhood, it was an IGA – Independent Grocers Assoc – and the prices were comparable. The Mom and Pop convenience store on the corner was open later (still is) and had/has more snack-like things.

  3. Bread Experience

    Your babas look so decadent Elizabeth! I’m with you on the wild yeast bit. I thought about it for half a second and said “nah!” These were such a lovely treat I think we are excused this time.


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