A classic in French desserts that made an appearance in Paris around 1835, and immediately became a hit. Taking its origin from a tall cylindrical cake in eastern Europe called the Babka, the French Baba au Rhum is a brioche dough, baked in individual portions, sometimes loaded with rum-soaked dried fruit, and usually served with pastry cream or Chantilly… of course after it soaks in a flavorful rum syrup.
Check out my version and give it a go in your kitchen! You may bake in traditional small “baba” molds (I found mine on Amazon) or larger version in a small and fancy bundt style pan. Don’t forget the rum!!
Rum Baba - makes 6-12 small individual babas
8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (1 stick) divided 6:2
1/2 cup whole milk, warmed 110 degrees (a little above “blood temp”)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups All-Purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, microplaned
Apricot jam to glaze
Toasted sliced almonds or finely ground pistachio
Glacé cherries or fresh seasonal fruit
Whipped cream/Chantilly cream
In a mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment, add the warmed milk and sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and give it a good mix with a wire whip. Let the yeast “bloom” for 5 minutes.
Add the flour, salt, and beaten egg. Begin the mixer on low to incorporate the ingredients. Once the ingredients are combined, start mixing on medium-high. You will see a wet sticky dough forming and kneading.
After 3 minutes of kneading with the mixer add the 6 tablespoons of softened butter a little at a time. Allow the butter to incorporate into the dough before adding the next bit. After all six tablespoons are in continue kneading with the mixer for an additional 7-8 minutes. The idea is to really develop the gluten for a spongy baba.
The dough should be soft, and a smidge sticky; This will give a light and spongy type baba perfect for soaking up the rum syrup.
Melt the last two tablespoons of butter, and brush the inside of six to twelve, 2-inch small individual baba molds. If making six little babas, the remaining dough may be added to a small bundt or Savarin ring mold for a new larger baba.
Pinch off 1-ounce pieces of dough (about the size of a large walnut), roll into a ball, and place in the buttered baba molds. Place the molds on a small baking sheet and allow the babas to rise in a warm spot, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the babas have risen, and look like mushrooms in the baba molds, place the entire pan into the center of your oven. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the babas and allow to cool. Remove the babas from the molds and lay on the lined baking sheet. They will need to dry a few hours or overnight before soaking in the rum syrup.
For The Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Orange or Lemon peel
Vanilla bean, split
1 cup rum (I used dark rum)
Add the sugar, lemon or orange peel, vanilla, and water to a large saucepot and begin to heat; Stir occasionally and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook five minutes. Stir in the rum (away from the fire!) and cook an additional five minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out the caviar into the syrup; discard the vanilla bean pod.
While the syrup is hot add a few of the babas and allow to bathe and soak/submerge in the syrup, one to two minutes. Remove to a wire cooling rack with a pan underneath to enable the babas to drip dry.
Brush the babas, top to bottom, with heated apricot jam and splash of water mixed in to form a glaze. Decorate with toasted sliced almonds, Chantilly cream, and glacé cherries. You may also use ground pistachio and fresh fruit.