Classic French Rum Baba

Classic French rum baba recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Rise Time: 105 mins
Total: 3 hrs
Servings: 12 servings
Yields: 12 baba cakes
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
405 Calories
9g Fat
71g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 405
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 267mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 71g 26%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 49g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 24mg 2%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Baba au rhum (also known as rum baba) is a lovely yeast-risen cake studded with dried fruit and soaked in hot rum syrup. Once the darling of French cuisine, it fell out of favor, but it is so good to see it back and as popular as ever. 

This recipe features the delicate flavor of citrus with just a hint of orange and lemon zest. Likewise, a small amount of warm vanilla has been added to the soaking syrup to cut down on the rum’s boldness. The result is a rum baba that's full of complex layers of flavor while still holding to the traditional French recipe.

To make this recipe, you'll need 12 baba molds. Because it does include a hard liquor syrup, and the alcohol is not cooked off, it's best to avoid serving it to children or those who abstain from alcohol.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 3 cups water

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup dark rum, or to taste

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2/3 cup apricot preserves, heated

  • Vanilla Chantilly cream, garnish

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this rum cake is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients along with baba molds
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Stir the yeast and the warm water together in a large bowl and allow the yeast to dissolve for 5 minutes.

    The yeast and warm water are stirred
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Lightly beat the eggs into the yeast and water.

    Eggs lightly whisked into the yeast and water
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, citrus zests, and salt together.

    Mixing the flour, sugar, citrus zests, and salt
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Stir the mixture into the yeast and eggs.

    Stirring the flour mixture into the yeast and eggs
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Knead the dough with the softened butter for about 5 minutes, until it turns soft and elastic.

    Dough kneaded with softened butter
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, until it doubles in size.

    Resting dough doubled in size
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. While the dough is rising, soak the raisins or currants in 3 tablespoons of rum.

    Soaking the raisins in rum
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  9. Once the dough has doubled, beat the rum-soaked fruit into it.

    Raisins added to the dough
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  10. Grease the baba molds and divide the dough among them.

    Dough in six baba molds
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  11. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 

  12. Cover the molds and allow the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the dough has just started to rise above the molds’ edges.

    Letting dough rise in the baba molds
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  13. Uncover the babas and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they turn golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the molds.

    Babas baked to a golden brown
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  14. Immediately remove the babas from the molds and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

    Babas cooling on a wire rack
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Make the Rum Syrup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for the rum syrup
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. While the babas are cooling, make the rum soaking syrup. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil for 5 to 10 minutes, until the syrup has thickened.

    Boiling the rum syrup until thickened
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir the rum and vanilla extract into the mixture.

    Syrup removed from heat with vanilla mixture added
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Assemble the Rum Baba

  1. Place the babas into the hot rum syrup and turn them several times, allowing them to soak up the syrup. They will swell and absorb most of the syrup.

    Two rum babas placed into the hot rum syrup
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Carefully transfer each baba onto a dessert plate and brush with a generous amount of heated apricot preserves.

    Painting rum babas with an apricot preserve
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Garnish the babas au rhum with vanilla Chantilly cream. Serve immediately and enjoy.

    Rum baba garnished with vanilla Chantilly cream
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

What Is a Baba Mold?

Baba molds are tall, cylindrical baking molds that create small, individual-sized cakes. They come in various sizes—4 ounces is typical—and are often sold in sets of six. It is a traditional way to bake French rum baba, though not your only option. Muffin tins work well, just make sure to fill them no more than halfway. Or you can make a large cake by pouring the batter into a fluted ring pan. Once baked, you'll have to pour the syrup over the larger cake, resulting in a rum-soaked cake similar to Polish babka, which inspired this French recipe.

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