Limoncello babas are delicious little Italian pastries. The babas are made with a sweetened yeast dough and are soaked with Limoncello syrup after baking. They can be served plain, with whipped cream and fruit or sliced open and filled with gelato or ice cream.
Serving size will vary depending on the size of the molds used. Special baba molds which measure about 2.5 inches in diameter and 3-4 inches deep are available and will yield aboout 12-15 babas with this recipe. You can also use a popover pan which is similar in size and shape to the traditional baba molds and yields about 8 babas.
1 package (2 teaspoons) dry yeast
1/4 cup warm milk, 105 - 115 degrees F
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2-1/4 cups flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup limoncello liqueur
To make the dough:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside for
5-10 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble. Transfer the yeast mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and mix to incorporate. Add the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Mix to combine. Add the softened butter and mix until the dough is smooth. The dough will be very sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour.
Butter the baba molds. Stir down the dough with a wooden spoon.
Fill each baba mold about 2/3 full of dough.The dough will be very sticky to handle, so we recommend using an ice cream scoop to transfer the dough to the baba molds.Cover the molds with plastic wrap that has been coated with a non-stick cooking spray. Allow the babas to rise until they have just formed a dome over the tops of the molds, 15-20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
If you are using individual molds, place them on a baking sheet for ease in transferring them into the oven. Bake the babas 15-20 minutes or until they are dark brown on top. Turn them out of the molds and allow them to cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
To make the syrup:
Put the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a wide saucepan and bring to a boil.
Cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Stir in the limoncello liqueur. Set aside.
After the babas are removed from the oven and have cooled for 10 minutes, place them in a large bowl. Pour the warm syrup over the babas. Carefully rotate them a few times in the syrup for about 5 minutes. The babas will soak up most of the syrup. If you see that the babas are getting too soft, remove them earlier. Place the babas on a plate or wire rack to drain.
Babas are best served within a few hours of baking but they can be stored for a day or two. Serve them with some whipped cream and slices of fresh fruit or berries. Cut the babas in half horizontally and fill with a scoop of gelato.
Active Yeast has coarse granules that should be dissolved in a warm liquid to 'bloom' or activate and get foamy; adding a pinch of sugar with the yeast encourages the blooming process. This takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
Instant Yeast includes bread-machine, rapid-rise and quick rise yeast. They're finer in texture and can be added directly to dry ingredients; no blooming is necessary. Many promise a shorter rising time but that isn't necessarily a good thing because dough develops flavor and texture as it rises.
MADE IN ITALY
This set includes six glass and one tray made entirely in Italy using traditional methods of manufacturing and craftsmanship and exlcusively for Abbiamo tutto. Made of strong white Italian earthenware, it is food and dishwasher safe.