Food & Drink

Merchants Tavern: Rum Baba with Caramelised Apples and Chantilly Cream

Head Chef Neil Borthwick talks us through one of his favourite dishes from the East London restaurant

“I really enjoy Rum Baba; it was one of the first things I ever cooked when I was working with William Curley. I think it’s great that you can take a classic brasserie dish like this, add a few touches, and it becomes something much more glamorous!”


Baba dough
120ml milk
40g fresh yeast
60g strong flour
400g strong flour, sifted
40g caster
4 pinches of salt
300g egg
200g butter softened at room temperature

1. Make a sponge ferment with the first three ingredients, warm the milk to tepid temperature and dissolve the yeast. Add the flour and allow to ferment somewhere warm for 20 minutes or so.
2. Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, beat the eggs in separate bowl and add to dry ingredients using a dough hook. Add the sponge, ferment and beat for 10-15 minutes until the dough becomes elastic. Allow to prove until it doubles in volume, and finally beat in the butter.
3. Pipe into Rum Baba moulds, prove until nicely risen and then bake until golden brown at 180c. Remove from the moulds and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Caramelised apples
250g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
3 Braeburn apples, peeled and cut into 12 wedges

1. Heat a sauté pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, add the sugar and cook to a dark caramel.
2. Add the spices and apples and cook gently until the apples are soft. Set aside to cool.

Soaking syrup
100g sugar
200ml water
50ml rum
Handful of golden raisins

1. Boil the sugar and water together and allow to cool completely before adding the rum. Warm a little of the syrup and soak a handful of golden raisins

Chantilly cream
100ml double cream
10g icing sugar
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped

1. Whisk to soft peaks and refrigerate until required.

Apple salad
1 Granny Smith apple
200ml apple juice with juice of 1/2 lemon

1. On a sharp mandolin, slice the apple as thin as possible and keep in the apple juice until required.
2. Cut the babas in half and soak in the warm remaining syrup until imbibed well, and punch up with a little extra rum to make sure you can taste it.

To Serve
Divide the caramelised apples and a little pile of the fresh apple salad on each plate, lean the baba up against them spoon the cream on top and stick the other half against it. Serve immediately.