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A world of unique, crafted gins

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A world of unique, crafted gins

Easy, free and reliable delivery

Homemade Rum Baba Recipe

Homemade Rum Baba Recipe

May 3, 2024

You have got to give this tried-and-tested Rum Baba recipe a go!

This fun, wonderfully boozy bake is easy to make at home and brimming with lovely rum, vanilla and brioche bread flavours that are sure to impress any cake connoisseur.

Served with Chantilly cream, they are the perfect afternoon treat or dessert to end a meal.

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What is Rum Baba?

Rum Baba is a popular dessert and a mainstay of French and Italian bakeries. It is a brioche-like, yeast-leavened cake soaked in rum syrup.

This sweet treat can be served warm or cold, often with Chantilly cream or créme patissier and fruit.

Some variations of the Rum Baba can use other spirits and have dried or candied fruit cooked into the cake.

How to make Rum Babas

Where is Rum Baba from?

Rum Baba has a cloudy and somewhat debated origin story, with three nations making a claim to its creation: Poland, France and Italy.

One of the leading theories is that the Rum Baba was invented by King Stanislas Leszczynski the First of Poland.

He and his family were exiled to Northern France and it was there that he added alcohol to a dry piece of babka cake, inventing what would become the Rum Baba.

Others say that the Rum Baba was invented by Nicolas Stohrer, the pastry chef of Marie, King Stanislas the First's daughter.

In 1725, Maried was married to King Louis XV of France and it was at his court at Versailles that Stohrer is thought to have invented the Rum Baba (or "Rhum Baba" as it is known in France).

Nicolas Stohrer went on to open a bakery in Paris, which is still open today and is known as the oldest bakery in the city.

The true origin story is likely a mix of these two narratives.

While the Rum Baba is hugely popular in Naples (where it is written "Rum Babà"), the sweet treat is said to have only found its way to Italy after being invented in France, sometime in the 19th Century.

Why is it called "Rum Baba"?

Just like with the treat's origin, there is debate over why the dessert is called "Rum Baba".

One school of thought is that it is so named because "baba" is another name for "babka", a traditional Polish cake made with yeast that is said to have played a big part in the Rum Baba's origin story.

"Babka" also translates to "grandmother" in many Slavic languages.

The other school of thought is that when the Rum Baba was first made for the exiled King Stanislas he named it "The Ali Baba" after Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from The Arabian Nights.

What does Rum Baba taste like?

Rum Baba is a sweet dessert that combines the rich, caramel and spice notes of rum with the light, buttery, brioche-like flavour of a unique leavened cake.

For our recipe, we flavour the Baba cake with orange zest to give it warm citrus notes and infuse the rum syrup with vanilla and lemon peel.

These small additions add layers of complexity to the dessert, making each bite a joyous and inviting mix of citrus, vanilla, rum and cake that is light yet delectably moreish.

How much alcohol is in a Rum Baba?

Even though Rum Babas are created using syrup made from rum, which must have an alcohol content of around 37.5% ABV to be sold in the UK, the finished dessert contains very little to no alcohol.

This is because the majority of the alcohol used to make Rum Babas is evaporated when the syrup is brought to a simmer.

Alcohol evaporates at 78C. By bringing the syrup to a simmer or boil you are increasing its temperature to above 78C and therefore removing the alcohol through evaporation.

Alcohol in Rum Babas

Can children eat Rum Baba?

Children can eat Rum Baba if you bring the rum syrup to a full simmer for at least 30 seconds before allowing it to cool, ready to soak the Baba buns.

By simmering the syrup, you will remove the alcohol content of the liquid, as described in the section above.

If you want a boozier, adults-only pudding, more rum can be added after the syrup has been created.

We recommend adding a little rum at a time and tasting regularly until you have enough alcohol to satisfy your taste preference.

How to make Rum Baba?

Rum Babas are made in two parts.

First, you make the sweet, leavened cake, kneading it and leaving it to prove at least twice before baking.

Second, you make the rum syrup to soak the cooked Rum Baba cake in. Our syrup is made by mixing rum, water and sugar to a ratio of 1:1:1. We also flavour the syrup by adding aromatic ingredients like vanilla and citrus peel.

Overall, our Rum Babas take around 2 and a half hours to make from start to finish.

Rum Baba recipe

The perfect Rum Baba recipe:

Rum Baba cake ingredients
7g yeast (one sachet)
50ml warm water
3 large eggs, beaten together
300g plain flour
2 tsp honey
½ orange zest
Pinch of salt
120g unsalted butter

Rum Baba syrup ingredients
200ml rum
200ml water
200g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod (or a teaspoon of vanilla paste)
Peel from half a lemon

Rum Baba method

To make the Rum Baba buns, mix the warm water and yeast.

Add the eggs, honey and orange zest.

Sift in the flour and salt then mix everything into a dough.

Tip the dough out onto a flat surface and knead until it is smooth and there is no flour visible. At this point, the dough will be very sticky.

Knead the butter into the dough for around 15 minutes, until no butter is visible and the dough is soft and tacky.

Move the dough to a bowl and leave it to prove for 1 hour.

Line ramekins (any ramekin or mould will work for this) with a little butter and flour.

Knead the dough again and divide it into pieces small enough to half-fill each ramekin.

Ball the dough and place each ball in a ramekin then leave to prove for 40 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Bake the dough for 20 minutes and then remove from the ramekins. Cool them on a wire rack.

For the syrup, simmer the rum, water, caster sugar, vanilla and lemon peel in a pan until the sugar has dissolved.

Cool the syrup slightly. Soak the buns in the syrup while it’s still warm.

Serve with Chantilly cream or pastry cream and fruit straight away or keep for later.

Can you freeze Rum Baba?

Yes, you can freeze Rum Baba buns.

For the best results, we recommend freezing the cooked Rum Baba buns in an airtight container before they are dipped in the rum syrup.

When you want to use the frozen Baba Buns, allow them to defrost and then dip them in the rum syrup before serving the dish.

It's important to note that the buns may be delicate after being defrosted, so treat them gently when soaking them in the syrup.

Rum Baba without alcohol

You can make Rum Baba without using alcohol. You just need to replace the rum in this recipe with one of the many great alcohol-free rum alternatives available today.

If you can't find an alcohol-free rum in your supermarket try swapping the caster sugar in the recipe above for brown sugar. This will give you rum-like caramel tones without needing to use rum.

Rum Baba with pineapple

Rum Babas are often served with pieces of pineapple or with pineapple added to the Rum Baba bun.

If you would like to add pineapple to the Rum Baba recipe above, simply knead 160g of chopped pineapple pieces into the dough directly before splitting the dough into pieces to be balled up and placed in ramekins.

More boozy bakes!