Mrs Marshall’s baba with Silver Rays rum

Mrs Agnes Bertha Marshall was a cookery book writer, but much more – she had her own cookery schools, her own foodie weekly magazine, her own products such as gelatine, essences, food colouring and flavours, oh and much, more, including kitchen equipment – which I will write about another time.

I mentioned a short while ago that on her specimen menu she suggested baba as a dessert – universally called rum baba (and is it pronounced ba-ba or bay-ba?) Have I ever had a rum baba? I can imagine it, soft with the syrup and rum, but eating it? Have I eaten it? I’m not sure. I like the flavour of rum, but not everyone does, so I doubt I will be making one, but if I were to, here is Mrs Marshall’s recipe:

  1. pass one pound of fine flour through a wire sieve
  2. put a quarter part of the flour in a small basin
  3. mix one ounce of German yeast and a pinch of salt into a quarter of a pint of tepid milk and water
  4. work it into the quarter part of flour into a little round ball and cut a cross on the top
  5. then with the remaining flour, make a little well in a basin, stand the dough in this and draw the flour over it
  6. cover the basin with a cloth and leave it in or on the screen (I don’t know what this is, but I would guess somewhere warm) for about fifteen to twenty minutes till the dough has broken through the flour
  7. put it out of the pan on to a table or slab
  8. break into it seven small whole eggs, add ten ounces of good butter, and two ounces of castor sugar
  9. mix all together and work it well for twenty minutes, cutting the paste well between the fingers and working it lightly and quickly by drawing it up and casting it back,  making a sort of circular motion with the hands to and fro from you
  10. colour with a little saffron or apricot yellow
  11. when the paste is ready it will leave the hands perfectly clear
  12. mix in about six ounces of various dried fruits
  13. place it in buttered moulds, let it rise well
  14. and then bake in a moderate oven for rather better than half an hour
  15. syrup – twelve ounces of loaf sugar, one and a half pints of water
  16. boil down to half the quantity, then add one large wineglass of Silver Rays (white) rum
  17. soak the baba in a syrup flavoured well with Silver Rays (white) rum
  18. serve with apricot sauce over and around the base

It seems strange to me, that this recipe which was written and published long after Eliza Acton’s recipes, does not have a list of ingredients either at the top of bottom of the instructions. In case you fancy making this rich ‘paste’ and syrup, here is what you need:

  • 1 lb fine flour
  • 1 oz German yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pint tepid milk and water
  • seven small eggs
  • 10 oz good butter
  • 2 oz castor sugar
  • 6 oz dried fruit
  • food colouring – saffron or apricot yellow
  • for the syrup – 12 oz loaf sugar, 1½ pints water, 1 large wineglass of rum
  • apricot sauce to serve

Note that the Silver Rays rum is Mrs A.B. Marshall’s own product – she really was ahead of the game when you think of all the modern chefs who have their own products and appliances for sale!!

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