As it's just about winter here and it's not really the season for fresh berries, we have to make due with either frozen, canned or dried versions. These dried blueberries are incredibly flavoursome, sometimes fresh blueberries can be a bit low in flavour but that certainly isn't the case with these - best of all, those wonderful nutrients are still retained in the drying process.
The dish I've made is an Italian favourite - Rum Babas - a yeast pastry soaked in a boozy syrup. Traditionally you'd see them in the shape of a mushroom, but I've used a canele mould to give it that elongated shape. The recipe I've used, with minor adjustments, comes from the May edition of Olive magazine - I particular like this recipe as there's no kneading involved.
120 grams plain flour
10 grams caster sugar
2 teaspoons tepid milk
1 heaped teaspoon instant yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
30 grams melted butter, cooled
20 grams dried blueberries
400 grams caster sugar
300 grams water
50 grams dried blueberries
rum, depends on how boozy you like it!
In a small bowl, mix the milk, yeast and a little sugar together to form a smooth paste. Sit in a warm place to activate.
Sift the flour and remaining sugar together into a bowl. Stir in the activated yeast mixture, followed by the egg, butter and dried blueberries. The dough will be quite soft - I used a dough scraper to roughly form the doug into a ball. Let this sit in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.
To get an even result, it is best to weigh the dough - you'll need to form 8 portions, these should weigh around 30-35 grams each.
With floured hands, lightly roll each portion into a ball and place into a well buttered canele mould - if you don't have a canele mould, use a muffin pan instead. The ball should half fill the mould - once all the holes are filled, place the pan in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes or until the dough just reaches the top of the mould.
Bake in a preheated 160°C for 30-40 minutes - or until golden and cooked through.
Make the syrup:
Place the sugar and water into a saucepan over a medium heat - stir until the sugar has dissolved and then increase the heat until the mixture starts to boil - let it boil for a couple of minutes and then add the dried blueberries - reduce the heat slightly and let it simmer until it has reduce by about a half. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum - this syrup should be quite boozy and depended on your preference and rum used you can add anywhere between ½ and 1 cup - I used about ¾ cup of Jamaican rum.
Soak the babas:
When it comes to soaking the rule is, if the syrup is hot, use cold cakes but if the syrup is cold, use hot cakes.
Arrange the babas in a dish that will just hold them snuggly, pour most of the syrup over (leaving the blueberries in the pan for now). Turn the babas around in the syrup. It can be a bit time consuming at this point but you want the syrup to completely soak through the cake. For best results, leave them to sit in the syrup overnight.
The next day, reheat the remaining syrup and pour it over the cakes before serving.
Surprisingly, even though it is soaked in a sugar syrup, this isn't a very sweet dessert and it is best served with a little whipped cream (chantilly cream would be ideal) to balance out the dish.