Baba au Rhum: A Cake With a Kick

BlogHer Original Post

Recently, after a late Sunday lunch in San Francisco with a friend, we perused the dessert menu and noticed a baba au rhum on the list. "Baba au rhum must be the molten chocolate cake of the moment," said my friend, who had seen the rum-soaked yeast cake on several menus around the area recently.

Baba au rhum

"As the legend goes, baba au rhum was named for a Polish king who dipped his stale bread in rum to improve the taste and it was said that he named his concoction after Ali Baba, a folk hero during the 1600s," writes Lynnylu of Welcome to My Cafe. Her post includes a recipe that she adapted from Cooks Illustrated after losing what she described as a "near-perfect" recipe for the dessert in a move. Featuring an apple jelly glaze, this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of rum, but Lynnylu says it's possible to substitute fruit juice for the spirit.

Foodplayerlinda of Playing With Fire and Water presents a quite creative variation on the theme: Peachleaf rum baba. Her description of the dessert is as enticing as the recipe itself:

This dish relates like a family reunion. Peaches are represented in various stages: the crystallized peach buds with their green almond crunch, the butterflied slices of ripe fruit, the creamy curd made from peach juice, and the benzaldehyde-flavored leaves. From the same family, almonds make up the crunchy praline along with burnt sugar, whose caramel flavor is echoed by the dark rum-soaked baba. The tangy creme fraiche is the friend who was invited to keep things interesting.

Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen needed a hostess gift for a friend with a taste for baba au rhum, and used this opportunity to bravely try a recipe for the cake for the very first time. She was greeted with success: "I was rather scared that the cake would fall apart after being drowned in all that rum syrup, but amazingly it didn't -- so if you make it, don't be shy!"

Jen of Milk and Cookies decided to forgo the rum in her Wattleseed and Clementine Babas with Vanilla Bean Syrup. Wattleseed is an Australian spice that is available online if it's not available in a store near you.

It might not sound as fun without the rum, but let me assure you, it tasted a treat. Whoever it was that told me that wattleseeds go well with citrus wasn't wrong. The wattleseeds' nuttiness was highlighted even more by the clementine's sweetness and the vanilla bean speckled syrup adds another dimension of flavour.

As for me and my friend? We indeed ordered the baba au rhum that day, and sweetened the end of our lunch with a bit of a kick. Who's to say we don't know a delicious trend when we see one?

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She also tells stories with photos at 5x52.

Image credit: [puamelia] via Flickr:

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