Today’s food holiday is National Cake Day. We like the food history of Baba Au Rhum. The original form of this dish is the Babka, a tall cylindrical yeast cake that is still made in Polish communities around the world. The modern “Baba Au Rhum” with dried fruit and soaked in rum came about in Paris around 1835. Today the word “Baba” almost everywhere in Western Europe refers to the Rum Baba.
The Baba came about when King Stanisles of Poland was exiled. On one of his voyages his Kugelhopf (a cake similar to the Baba) dried out. One of his pastry chefs solved the problem by soaking it in a combination of Malaga Wine, Saffron, Raisins, and sweetened cream. The popularity of the Baba spread throughout Europe and over the years rum with simple syrup has replaced the Malaga Wine.
Hotel de Paris – Monte Carlo
Baba began showing up on U.S. menus around 1899 and Alain Ducasse still sometimes features it on his Michelin starred restaurant menus. Chef Ducasse has many restaurants, but I would love to try LouisXV in Monte Carlo. Actually, to spend even one night in the Hotel de Paris and dine at this beautiful restaurant would check one item off our bucket list. Getting back to the Baba, here is a recipe from Chef Ducasse himself.
Chef Ducasse’s Recipe – Baba Au Rhum
1 sachet dried yeast
1/3 cup of mik
1/4 cup sifted flour
7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups Flour
1 cup Sugar
2 cups Water
1 Orange in strips
Strained Apricot Jam
Vanilla whipped cream
1) In a large stainless steel bowl, dissolve 1 sachet of dried yeast in 1/3 cup of milk. Stir over a medium heat until warm.
2) Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of sifted flour, cover and set in a warm place for 20 minutes.
3) Beat 7 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour. Add four eggs, one at a time, and beat well. When the yeast dough has risen and become spongy, whisk in this mixture, plus a further 1 1/4 cups of flour, to make thick, dough like batter.
4) Spoon the batter into eight greased dariole moulds. Bake in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes.
5) Stir 1 cup of sugar into 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest of 1 orange, in strips. When cool, add 1/2 a cup of rum.
6) When the Baba’s are risen and golden, remove from the oven and unmold. Dip them into the syrup to saturate and then leave on a wire rack to cool. When cool, brush with warmed, strained apricot jam.
7) To serve, split the Baba’s lengthwise and spoon over more rum, then top with vanilla whipped cream.
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