A baba au rhum (or rum baba) is a small yeast cake saturated in liquor, usually rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream or pastry cream. It is most typically made in individual servings. The batter for baba is even richer than that for brioche, and includes eggs, milk, and butter. The original form of the baba was similar to the babka, a tall cylindrical yeast cake.
The modern “Baba au Rhum”, with dried fruit and soaking in rum, was invented in rue Montorgueil (Paris, France) in 1835 or before. Today, the word “Baba” in France and almost everywhere else outside eastern Europe usually refers specifically to the rum baba.
The original Baba was introduced into France in the 18th century via Alsace and Lorraine. This is attributed to Stanislas, the exiled king of Poland. The Larousse Gastronomique reports that Stanislas had the idea of soaking a dried Kugelhopf (a cake roughly similar to the baba and common in Alsace-Lorraine when he arrived there) or a baba with alcoholic spirit. Another version is that when Stanislas brought back a baba from one of his voyages it had dried up. Nicolas Stohrer, one of his pâtissiers, solved the problem by addition of adding Malaga wine, saffron, dried and fresh raisin and crême pâtissière. Courchamps states in 1839 that the descendants of Stanislas served the baba with a saucière containing sweet malaga wine mixed with one sixth of Tanaisie Licquor.
Nicolas Stohrer followed Stanislas’ daughter Maria Leszczyńska to Versailles as her pâtissier in 1725 when she married King Louis XV, and founded his Pâtisserie in Paris in 1730. One of his descendants allegedly had the idea of using rum in 1835. While he is believed to have done so on the fresh cakes (right out of the mold), it is a common practice today to let the baba dry a little so that it soaks up better. Later, the recipe was refined by mixing the Rum with aromatized sugar syrup.
In Agatha Christie’s murder mystery Thirteen at Dinner, the detective Hercule Poirot is described as being “inordinately fond” of the pastry.
- Preparation time : 30 mn
- Cooking time : 20 mn
- Pause : 1 hour
- Cost : cheap
- Wine : syrupy wine such as Monbazillac (8°C)
Ingredients : 8 individual cakes
- 125 gr butter, at room temperature
- 225 gr flour
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- a pinch of salt
- 25 gr white sugar
- 75 gr raisins
- 3 tablespoons rum
- 8 candied cherries
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Rum soaking syrup :
- 250 gr white sugar
- 50 cl water
- 1 tablespoon rum
Step 1 (dough – steps 1-6)
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let it stand about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix sieved flour with a pinch of salt. Then make a well.
Whip the eggs and pour into the well. Add sugar and yeast. Mix with your hands until the batter is homogenous.
Knead the batter : lift the batter with your fingertips and then fold it over. Repeat for 5 mn until the lumps have disappeared. Grease 8 individual baba molds. When the batter has turned soft and elastic divide the dough among them. Top each dough with dice butter at room temperature. Cover the molds with a wet cloth towel and allow it to rise for 1 hour, until it doubles in size, in a warm place.
While the dough is rising, soak the raisins in 3 tablespoons of rum and 3 tablespoons of warm water.
Preheat the oven 200°C.
Strain the raisins. Mix the dough with your hands until it becomes homogenous. Add the raisins.
Step 7 (syrup)
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 2 mn until you get a clear liquid. Then add 1 tablespoon of rum. Cover to keep very warm for soaking babas.
Step 8 (cake)
Uncover the babas and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until they turn golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the molds. Immediately remove the babas from the molds and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
Warm up again the rum syrup (as you should pour it boiling on babas). Pour the syrup over the babas several times with a spoon. They will swell and absorb most of the syrup. Carefully transfer each baba onto a dessert plate. Brush with candied cherries. Serve at room temperature.Gourmet Food Store - Discover a world of luscious gourmet food. Shop our exquisite food selection now and save. Caviar. Smoked Salmon. Truffles. Foie Gras. Oil & Vinegar.