Baba au rhum

Legends and myth cloud the origin of this traditional French cake – the claim persists that there is a link to the Polish king Stanisław I Leszczyński and his supposed dislike of dry cake (the jury seems to be still out on whether it was a general dislike of guglhupf which caused him some distress while sojourning in the Alsace or a drama surrounding a dried up Polish babka). Evidence that any of these tales speak truth however seems to be still missing.

I cannot say that it bothers me much when it comes to the consumption of this popular yeast bake saturated in a sumptous syrup and liquor mix and there can be little doubt as to why it is so popular in France and as well in some parts of Italy up till today. It certainly is a wonderful tea companion and a soothing treat for an afternoon break.

Sanni

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Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1/2 package of dry yeast
  • 250 grams of strong flour (German type 550)
  • 100 grams of whole egg (approx. 2 medium eggs), room temperature
  • 5 grams of salt
  • 15 grams of sugar
  • 130 grams of milk, room temperature
  • 75 grams of butter, room temperature
  • Optional: 100 grams of rum raisins (approx. 75 grams of sultanas, soaked in a 1:1 mix of water and brown rum for approx. 1 day)

For the syrup:

  • 750 ml of water
  • 350 grams of sugar
  • 3 cardamon capsules
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 40 ml of spiced brown rum (e.g. Captain Morgan)

For serving:

  • Optional: whipped cream, fruit salad

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Preparation:

Preparing the dough:

  1. Pass the flour through a fine sieve into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place the sugar and the salt on one side of the bowl and the dry yeast on the other.
  3. With kneading hooks, mix with an electric mixer on low speed while carefully adding the mix, then one by one work in the eggs.
  4. Continue kneading on low speed for approx. 15 minutes until the dough starts coming off the side of the bowl easily.
  5. Bit by bit, knead in the butter and finally fold in the rum raisins (if your using any).
  6. Butter a small Bundt mold. Fill the dough into the mold and cover with a moist kitchen towel sprinkled with flour.
  7. Let the dough rest in a dark and warm place for approximately 2 hours (until the colume has doubled).
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
  9. Bake the cake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove from the mold and let cool down completely.

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Preparing the sirup:

  1. Mix the water and the sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Ad the cinnamon stick and the anise. Break open the cardamon capsules e.g. with the back side of a tablespoon and add as well.
  3. Bring to the boil. Let the sugar dissolve completely then reduce the heat to very low simmering temperature.
  4. Let simmer for approximately 40 minutes. Then let cool down for another 10 to 20 minutes, before you pass the mixture through a sieve filtering out the spices.
  5. Let cool down completely, then add the rum.

Soaking:

  1. If your a planning  to serve the entire cake at once: Dunk the cake into the sirup (put it into a large enough saucepan for this) with the help of two pieces of string places cross-wise under the cake. Keep in the liquid until completely soaked, the remove with the help of the strings and place it on a grid. Let drip off.
  2. If you are planning to consume the cake over several days: I recommend not soaking the entire cake if you cannot consume it immediately. The dry cake keeps well for 3 to 4 days and the sirup is best kept separately in an airtight container. Ladle the sirup over the cake immediately before serving.
  3. Serve with whipped cream and fruit salad if you like .
  4. Enjoy!

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