My Version of Proust’s Madeleine


When I was a child I watched my mother create desserts and longed to do it myself. One of my earliest efforts, when I must have been around 12, was Baba Au Rhum. This memory came to me recently in a nostalgic glow, so I decided to try it again, after all these years. It was fun and my first taste definitely brought back a bittersweet (the memory not the muffin) sense of my Parisian suburban home and my mother’s magical kitchen. Proust has his madeleine cookie to remember his childhood. I have Baba Au Rhum.


There are many varieties of Baba Au Rhum.  Mine look like small muffins, infused with the sweet liquor flavor of rum. To start blend 1 and a half teaspoons of dry yeast, half a cup of warm milk, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes. When it starts to bubble, add 2 cups of flour, 3 large eggs, and a pinch of salt. Mix until the dough is elastic. Then add half a cup of raisins that have been previously soaked in rum for 15 minutes, and a stick of butter. Blend well and then cover the dough with a towel and let it rise for one hour. Stir the dough again to get rid of air bubbles. Now butter ten muffin molds and half fill with the dough. Cover again for another 45 minutes. By then the dough will have risen to fill the molds. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, brush the top of the muffins with an egg wash, and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the muffins cool for 20 minutes, and then take them out of the mold.

Now for the sweet part. Combine 3 quarters of a cup of sugar, 1 and a half cups of warm water, a teaspoon of vanilla and 3 tablespoons of rum. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Put the muffins into a baking dish so they’re tightly packed. Spoon the syrup over them until the liquid is absorbed. Serve with whipped cream. Or fruit as well. I hate desserts that are too sugary or drowned in syrup, and this one is quite delicate, the syrup adding a nice hint of sweet rum without overpowering the delicate muffins.


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