Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Unbelievably moist, soft and buttery Rum Baba. Light texture is enhanced by rum which here contributes to the moisture and vibrancy of flavour, bringing at the same time enjoyable and more mature dimension to Baba. Additionally, rum keeps Baba fresh for longer making it a good option for baking in advance.
We are adding to our recipe Rum-Butter Glaze which is our slightly (and only slightly) adapted version of Helen Goh’s Rum-Butter Glaze (used for soft gingerbread tiles). All is then topped up by toasted coconut flakes.
So - why Baba and not Babka?
In many Eastern European languages baba means granny (addition of 'ka' at the end is a sweater, little version of the same word - baba would be a mature and more established babka). In Arabic baba means a father figure. Hence, Baba is treated as a mother/father/head of the clan of all Babkas. It's usually prepared for special occasions as it requires longer preparation time. Baba is butter and egg rich, requires some longer TLC when kneading, slightly longer rest time and is usually heavily decorated. It pays off with beautiful texture, vibrant taste (usually Baba is jazzed up in one way or the other) and appealing looks.
For a good bake here there are few hints which you may find useful, all are captured below the recipe. If you have never worked with yeast you may find this post helpful (Baking with Yeast).
To get rich flavour soak raisins in rum and let it rest overnight.
We are using slightly different proofing and dough mixing technique - just follow the recipe and you will be OK. The dough from this recipe is sticky (1st rest) and then becomes very sticky (2nd rest). That’s OK - don’t be tempted to add more flour than suggested.
Rum Baba with Rum-Butter Glaze Recipe
Yield: 16-20 servings
Total time: 4 hrs 20 min (mainly dough rest)
Time: 30 min prep + 1hr 30 min (1st rest) + 5 min prep + 1hr and 30min (2nd rest) + 35-40min baking
Tin: 12 cup Bundt pan (23cmx8cm)
To infuse Rum flavour:
- 1/2 cup (125ml) gold rum
- 2/3 cup (100g) raisins
For yeast proofing:
- 1 cup (250ml) full-fat milk
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 3 teaspoons (9.5g) active dry yeast yeast or 37.5 g active bulk dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
For the dough:
- 150g butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) clear lemon juice
- 5 egg yolks from large eggs
- 1 large egg
- 4 and 1/3 cups* (650g) all-purpose flour + 2 Tablespoons (20g) for kneading
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Rum-Butter Glaze:
- 5/6 cup (100 g) confectioners' sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 large Tablespoon (20 g) unsalted butter, melted and warm
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) gold rum
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (22.5ml) lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (40g) coconut flakes (to decorate)
*cup = 250ml cup
1. Prepare raisins: Place raisins on the sifter and pour 2 cups hot water over it (to soften the skins), then place in a small bowl, pour 1/2 cup rum and cover the bowl tightly with cling film. You can do this a night before baking and set aside for overnight rest. If you don’t have time, do it as a first step when starting to bake.
2. Proof the yeast: In a small pot warm up milk with sugar to 38-40C - stir occasionally to make sure all sugar is fully dissolved. Take off the heat and add yeast, mix until combined, sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon flour (no need to mix) and cover with cling film or dry kitchen towel. Set aside in warm place for 15 minutes. After that time you should see yeast bubbling and foaming up. If it’s not, repeat the step (check yeast’s best before date or watch temperature closely next time - could be too high or too low). In a separate pot melt butter and once lukewarm add 5 egg yolks and 1 large egg, freshly squeezed clear lemon juice and whisk until combined (you will be adding lukewarm to the dough).
3. Prepare the dough: In your main mixing bowl mix flour with salt, add proofed yeast and lukewarm egg/butter mixture. Start kneading. If you are working by hand - kneading here is simply patting the dough, remembering to turn the bowl every so often in order to aerate the dough from every side. Kneading here takes 18-20 minutes. The dough is going to be sticky. After 15 minutes add 1 Tablespoon of flour and after 1-2 minutes add last 1 Tablespoon of flour, knead until incorporated. After 18-20 minutes the dough should become shiny, smooth and still sticky (that’s the way it’s to be). If you are kneading using stand mixer - mix using dough hook attachment on medium to high speed in first 5 minutes then lower to medium-low speed and knead for another 12-15 minutes. 15 minutes into kneading add 1 Tablespoon flour, knead for 2 minutes and then add the last 1 Tablespoon of flour kneading until incorporated. As the dough is sticky - best is to mix the dough by hand 2 or 3 times in the first 3 minutes to make sure all flour is incorporated and there is no residue at the bottom of the mixing bowl. Once ready, transfer the dough to lightly greased bowl (you may lightly grease your hands with sunflower oil to do that). Sprinkle 1 flat Tablespoon of flour on top and cover tightly with cling film, transfer to the warm place and let it rest for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The dough should triple in size.
4. Shape: In a meantime, lightly grease the bundt pan and apply thin layer of flour (you may also opt to use non-stick baking spray). Once ready, add raisins and rum to the dough and knead for 1 minute until fully incorporated. Transfer the dough to the bundt pan and level out, sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon of flour. Cover tightly with the cling film, move to warm place and let it rest for 1 hour and 30 minutes. In that time the dough should triple in size and fill in the bundt cake pan fully. After 1 hour, take off the cling film and cover with dry kitchen towel for the remaining 30 min (you don’t want the dough to stick to cling film as it may adversely affect the texture). Preheat oven to 170C. Once ready, delicately transfer the bundt pan to the oven.
5. Bake: Bake at 170C for 35-40 minutes. Check with the skewer or chopstick if fully baked through. Once baked, take out from the oven and let the Rum Baba cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then flip over onto the cooling rack and let it cool completely before decorating. Wait at least 2 hours after baking before serving to let the texture set and for rum aroma to fully infuse the Baba.
6. For the Rum-Butter Glaze: Toast coconut at 180C for 7-8 minutes, set aside. In a small pot melt butter, add lemon juice, rum, nutmeg and cinnamon. To warm mixture add half of the confectioners’ sugar, whisk until combined and then add the remaining part of confectioners’ sugar, whisk until combined. The mixture is to be warm (you can continue warming up on low heat while applying glaze). Brush Baba with warm Rum-Butter Glaze and apply toasted coconut (do both simultaneously as the glaze sets fairly fast).
1. If you have never worked with yeast, before baking this Baba you may find it helpful to read this post on Working with Yeast.
2. Our yeast proofing and dough mixing for any sweet dough is slightly different to other recipes. This is old technique my granny used and it worked for years - basically all sugar is incorporated immediately at the yeast proofing stage (creating sugar bomb for yeast) and all wet ingredients are mixed lukewarm/warm when added to the flour (flour is easier to work with when kneading).
3. Don’t expect cinnamon bun or regular Babka dough consistency. The dough is sticky and wet - this is what creates unbelievably moist texture. So don’t worry, that’s the way it is to be.
4. Salted vs. unsalted butter - our first choice for this bake would be unsalted butter but we have baked this Baba on good quality salted Irish butter and it worked well. So - it’s entirely up to you!
Jazz things up:
1. Dried fruit or candied fruit - cranberries, candied ginger, candied orange, finely chopped prunes or dates all work well in this recipe.
2. % - Bourbon works really well in this recipe - you will get slightly sharper flavour (especially if you replace rum with bourbon in the glaze).