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Baba au Rhum Cakes

Servings: 10

Definition: [BAH-bah] Also called baba au rhum, this rich, light currant or raisin studded yeast cake is soaked in a rum or kirsch syrup. It's said to have been invented in the 1600s by Polish King Lesczyinski, who soaked his stale kugelhopf in rum and named the dessert after the storybook hero Ali Baba. The classic baba is baked in a tall, cylindrical mold but the cake can be made in a variety of shapes, including small individual rounds. When the cake is baked in a large ring mold it's known as a savarin* (definition for Savarin follows).

Definition: [SAV-uh-rihn; sa-va-RAN] This variation on the baba* (see definition above) is made without raisins and baked in a large ring mold. Named after Brillat-Savarin, a famous 18th-century food writer, this rich yeast cake is soaked with rum-flavored syrup and filled with pastry cream, crème chantilly or fresh fruit.

From The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

1 envelope dried yeast:
1/2 cup warm water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz/113g) unsalted butter, softened and chopped
4 tbsp. raisins (optional)

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup rum
Heavy cream, for serving
Seasonal berries, for serving (optional)

For the Cakes:
Stir the yeast into the water and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and, using an electric beater, mix until combined and the mixture is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sugar and salt and the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour, beating until the mixture is smooth. Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Gradually beat in the softened butter, piece by piece until the mixture is smooth. If using, soak the raisins in lukewarm water, then squeeze out the excess water and work them into the dough. Set aside.

Butter ten 3/4-cup Baba molds. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture in each mold, cover and let stand for 45 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Add the cakes and bake for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden and when tapped gently they sound hollow. Remove the cakes from the molds and place on a wire rack to cool.

For the Glaze
Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5-7 minutes, or until reduced by half. Remove from the heat, then stir in the rum. While the cakes are still warm, brush the tops with the glaze.

Serve warm or cool with the cream and seasonal berries, if desired.

Makes 10 individual size baba au rhum cakes.

Source: DianasDesserts.com
Date: July 22, 2002