Ready to Rum-BA!
The Rum Baba is a staple Neapolitan dessert and is considered a Neapolitan specialty, however, the rum soaked cake did not originate in Naples. Like many desserts, The Baba has variations all throughout Europe and the stories of its origins vary. Babas are traditionally made in a tall cylinder shape, and the cake in this form is said to have originated in Poland. However, the rum-soaked version, which is found in Pasticcerias all throughout Italy, is said to have come about in Paris, France in the 18th century. This rum soaked version of the cake was then brought to Naples by French chefs and grew in popularity to become a staple dessert in Neapolitan cuisine. The popularity of the Baba continued to travel throughout Italy and was brought to Sicily by the Bourbon chefs, who then gave their own, take on the dessert.
Babas today are usually sold as individual desserts, soaked with plenty of rum ,however, in certain areas like the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, they are also filled with cream. Instead of making fiddly individual cylinder cakes, I used a Bundt dish to make one large Baba, which can be shared. It is easier to serve and to transport to a friends house, and it is quite a showstopper when served as one large individual cake. It is best to eat Rum Babas on the day they have been made
60 ml (1/2 cup) milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons dried yeast
320 grams plain flour
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
4 large eggs, beaten
110 grams butter
150 ml thickened cream
300 grams of fresh fruit, either raspberries or strawberries
Crema Pasticceria (Pastry Cream)
500 ml (2 cups) of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
6 egg yolks
120 grams caster sugar
35 grams cornflour
20 grams plain flour
20 grams butter, diced
600 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
60 ml of golden rum
Mix milk and yeast in a bowl and set aside until foamy, which should take roughly 5 minutes.
Put flour and a large pinch of salt in an electric mixer, add vanilla paste, eggs and milk mixture and beat to combine. While the motor is still running, gradually add the butter a little bit at a time until it’s all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a buttered bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which should take roughly 1- 1 ½ hours.
For the Crema (Cream), bring milk and vanilla paste to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar and yolks in a bowl until pale, then whisk in the corn flour and plain flour until well combined. Slowly add hot milk, whilst whisking continuously, then return mixture to pan and whisk occasionally until the mixture is thick, which will take roughly 3-5 minutes. Whisk in butter and transfer to a container, and cover surface directly with plastic cling wrap to prevent a crusty skin from forming on the custard. Allow to cool, and refrigerate for about an hour, until the custard is firm.
Preheat oven to 190°. Knock back dough, then break off pieces and press evenly into a buttered 2-litre Bundt cake tin, then set aside until doubled in size (20 minutes).
Bake the Baba until it has risen and is a deep golden colour, which should take roughly 35-45 minutes. Check with a skewer, by placing it into the cake and when you withdraw it, it should come out clean with no mixture. Remove the Baba from the oven, turn out on to a wire rack to cool, then place in a wide deep dish.
For the rum syrup, bring sugar, jam and 400ml of water to the boil in a saucepan. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then add rum, carefully pour all over the cake and let it stand, soaked for 1 hour. Leave some of the syrup to pour over just as you are about to serve.
To serve, whisk the Crema to soften. Whisk the thickened cream to medium peaks and fold into the crema, then spoon it into the centre of the Baba. Decorate with fresh fruit, and pour left over syrup.