The royal family has enjoyed this boozy French yeast cake since the 1600s.
Baba Au Rhum/Baba Au Savarin – A Savarin is a yeast dough baked in a ring mold and soaked in rum syrup, the center hole brimming with pastry cream, creme chantilly, or fresh fruit. The dessert is a close relative of the Eastern European baba, which includes dried fruit in the dough and is served without a filling.
1600s – It is believed to be a version of a kugelhopf, which was invented in Lemberg in the 1600s. The baba was brought to Paris, France by King Stanislas Leszczynska, the deposed king of Poland and the father-in-law of King Louis XV (17101774) of France when he was exiled to Lorraine.
According to legend, he found the customary kouglhopf too dry for his liking and dipped the bread in rum. He was so delighted that he named the cake after one of the heroes of his favorite book, Ali Baba from A Thousand and One Nights. Later, his chef refined the sweet bread by using brioche dough and adding raisins to the recipe. The dish was then simply called baba.
Royal Baba au Rhum
- 1 cup white flour unbleached
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ounces butter softened
- 1/4 ounce dry yeast
- 4 tbsp water lukewarm
- 4 tbsp milk lukewarm
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tbsp. currants
- 1 tbp. sultana raisins
- 6 tbsp. rum
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- Add the water and milk to a glass measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow the yeast to sit for 5 minutes.
- Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs, slowly adding the vanilla extract.
- Warm the mixing bowl on the stove for a few minutes. Make a hollow in the center of the flour mixture, and use one hand to alternately add the yeast, then egg mixture. Use the other hand to knead the soft dough as is begins to form. As soon as the ingredient have been smoothly blended, place the bits of soft butter over the top of the dough. Lightly cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise for one hour.
- The dough should have doubled in size. Mix in the currants and sultanas.
- Butter a large ring mold and fill the mold up to one third of it's height, then cover with a towel and place in a warm place. Preheat your oven to 425F. When the dough has risen to the rim of the mold it is ready to bake.
- Bake the cake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 F and bake until the sponge is a golden color, about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool sufficiently to turn out.
- Stir the sugar and water together in a saucepan, simmering until it begins to thicken. Add the rum.
- Prick the sponge all over with a fork while it is still warm. Then slowly pour the rum syrup over the sponge until it has all soakedin.
- Just before serving sprinkle lightly with rum. Serve with fruit and you can also fill the center with whipped cream or custard before slicing.