Vanilla and Spice Babas

  • Active Time 35m
  • Total Time 2h 25m

Makes a dozen small cakes


  • For the Babas:
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • For the Syrup:
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked cardamom pods
  • 5 star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • For the Garnish:
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream


TO MAKE THE BABAS: In a small saucepan, warm the milk slightly, to 110 to 115 degrees F. Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. After about 5 minutes the yeast will expand and start to bubble.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix the flour, sugar and salt together. With the machine running, add the eggs and the yeast mixture. Run the machine until you have a smooth dough, about 1 minute. The dough will be loose and wet.
Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or two 6-cup muffin tins. After the dough has doubled, work the remaining softened butter into the dough with a spatula. The dough will resist the butter at first, but continue working it in and the dough will accept the butter. The dough will be fully incorporated and have a slightly glossy appearance.
Pour the dough out onto a clean work surface. With a pastry scraper or knife, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. (To prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers, lightly dust your hands with flour.) Place the dough in the muffin cups about 1/3 full. Set the muffin tray aside until the dough has risen to the top of the cups. That should take about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the babas for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool the tin on a rack.

TO MAKE THE SYRUP: Split the vanilla bean lengthwise to expose the vanilla seeds. Cut the vanilla bean into 4 even pieces. In a medium saucepan, combine the vanilla bean with the rest of the syrup ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to infuse the flavor of the spices into the syrup. Strain the syrup through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl.

When ready to serve, dunk the babas in the syrup to absorb but not be saturated with the syrup. Cut each baba in half, and place it in an individual bowl with some of the syrup. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Doubleday. All rights reserved.

RecID 3634

nutrition information per serving

216 calories; 6g total fat; 49mg cholesterol; 116mg sodium; 37g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 4g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

Sign Up for Newsletters Here

Delicious recipes, easy meal ideas and holiday inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.