Classic French Rum Baba Recipe

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
Yield: 12 baba cakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
405 Calories
9g Fat
71g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 405
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 207mg 9%
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, or you can use a muffin tin if you don't have the 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.

“These little rum flavored sweet cakes are such a tasty treat. They are quite rum-soaked, so maybe better for the adults at the party, they are a classic dessert for a reason. The dough can be sticky, but totally worth the effort.” —Tracy Wilk 

rum baba/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast

  • 3 tablespoons warm water

  • 3 large eggs, beaten

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing the molds

  • 3/4 cup golden raisins, or dried currants

  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 3 cups water

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup dark rum, to taste

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2/3 cup apricot preserves, warmed

  • Vanilla Chantilly cream, for garnish

Steps to Make It

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. Lightly beat the eggs into the yeast and water.

    The yeast and warm water are stirred
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, citrus zests, and salt together. Stir the mixture into the yeast and eggs.

    Mixing the flour, sugar, citrus zests, and salt
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Work the mixture in the bowl with a spatula until it holds together. On a very lightly floured surface, knead the dough with the softened butter until it becomes soft and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Cover the dough and allow it to rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

    Dough kneaded with softened butter
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Meanwhile, soak the raisins or currants in 3 tablespoons of rum. Once the dough has doubled, beat the rum-soaked fruit into it.

    Soaking the raisins in rum
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Grease the baba molds and divide the dough evenly among them. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 F. Cover the molds and allow the dough to rise until the dough has just started to rise above the molds’ edges, 30 to 45 minutes.

    Dough in six baba molds
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Uncover the babas and bake them until they turn golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the molds, 20 to 25 minutes

    Babas baked to a golden brown
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Immediately remove the babas from the molds and allow them to cool on a wire rack while you make the rum syrup.

    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. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil until the syrup has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

    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 in batches, turning them several times, allowing them to soak up the syrup. They will swell and absorb most of the syrup. Continue to soak the babas until all the syrup is used.

    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 warmed apricot preserves.

    Painting rum babas with an apricot preserve
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Garnish the babas au rhum with vanilla Chantilly cream to serve.

    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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