When I was a child we were allowed to go by ourselves to the local food store for simple shopping such as getting bread or milk. Very often in my early age, I had basic grocery shopping as a chore. Our nearby bakery was nothing special. They stocked few varieties of bread, some breakfast pastries, as well as few cakes, were always available, but that was all. But sometimes, if you were lucky to come to the store at the right time, you could find a number of sweet treats behind the glass display. One of such treats was rum baba, soaked in sweet syrup, rum and covered with a white sugar icing.
So once in a while, I used to come home from my shopping trip with an extra item. Nobody complained, of course, tea kettle was immediately put on and sweet baba was served regardless what time of the day it was. We have never baked baba at home, so I don’t have family baba recipe. Recently I have recalled some of my childhood sweet delights and decided to give rum baba a try. I used a recipe from Julia Child’s book and my baba came out just perfect. Probably, even a little better then I remember 🙂 I don’t have proper baking molds for the needed shape, but I am very happy how my rum baba turned out. Just imagine very light and spongy pastry soaked in aromatic syrup melting in your mouth when you can hold on to only one thought – “one more bite, please”!
Rum baba is the creation of Polish bakers, but I would love to include this dessert into a collection of Russian recipes from my childhood.
For more Russian recipes, visit Russian Cuisine page.
Storing: Un-soaked babas can be well wrapped and kept at room temperature for a day or two or frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.
Romovay Baba - Rum Baba
- 6 Tbsp. lukewarm water (about 100F)
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup raisins or currant
- 1/3 cup dark rum
- butter for brushing the molds
- For the syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and sprinkle over the yeast and sugar. Add the egg and stir briefly with a rubber spatula just to mix.
Put the flour in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients are blended. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and beat on low until the butter is absorbed, a couple of minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in warm place for about 20 minutes, just until slightly risen.
Wile the dough in proofing, soak the raisins with rum in a small bowl. Brush the molds with butter and set aside.
When the dough has risen, drain the raisins, reserving the rum, and stir them into the dough with a rubber spatula. (Your dough will look very cheesy, don't be alarmed, that's how it should be). Using a teaspoon fill the mold to the halfway point. Let the dough rest in a warm place until it fills the molds, about 30-35 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Bake the risen babas for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden. Unmold the babas onto the cooling rack and cool before soaking in syrup.
Note: The babas can be made ahead to this point, wrapped airtight, and frozen for about 2 weeks. The should be at room temperature before soaking in the sugar syrup.
To make the syrup: Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 30 seconds and then turn off the heat.
Line a jelly-roll pan with waxed paper and set a cooling rack on a top of it. Drop the babas, one or two at a time, into the syrup and let them soak, turning them ones, for about a minute. Lay the soaked babas onto the cooling rack. Then, sprinkle some dark rum over the babas. Serve with your favorite hot drink.
If you don't have baba mold, mold these in anything you've got: custard cups or muffin tins; small bundt cake mold or brioche mold are great.
inspired by a recipe from “Baking with Julia” cookbook