Russian Rum Baba Cake Recipe
Pouring a stunning amount of sugar-rum syrup over a plain cake is one way to give it some personality. Everybody likes that, and this cake makes for a beautiful and splendidly tasty, dessert. It is sweet, tastes of refined oranges, and is kissed by the cool taste of rum. All mixed together, it is like an immaculately painted canvas.
This cake often rises quite a lot. When I made it, it rose from being near the top of its bundt pan to actually hitting the (admittedly rather low) roof of the oven I baked it in. This was responsible for the visible browning/burning present in later photos you'll see below. I solved this by cutting off the burned region. If you are cooking in a shallow oven, I recommend that the recipe's portion sizes be reduced or, at the very least, be carefully considered, so as to prevent it from being too large for the cooking space.
This recipe is adapted from Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen.
- 2 packages yeast
- 2 1/2 + 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/3 cups rum
- Approximately 5 cups flour
- 1 orange, grated for zest
- 6 eggs
- 12 tablespoons butter, warmed to room temperature
- 5 tablespoons lukewarm water (105-115 F)
- Mix together 1/4 cup lukewarm water, 1 teaspoon sugar and the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes until it is foamy.
- Add in the remaining 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 1/4 cup sugar, the eggs, and beat until smooth with an electric mixer at medium speed, 3–4 minutes. Then add the orange zest and the butter beat again for 2 more minutes. If there are some small lumps remaining from the butter, this is not especially severe, as these will be worked out in the next step.
- Turn off the mixer, and add 5 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring it in with a wooden spoon. Be careful to ensure that the dough is neither too wet nor too dry. Place the dough onto a floured surface, add additional flour if necessary to prevent it from sticking, and knead it for 5–7 minutes. The dough should be soft, and somewhat sticky, but not excessively wet.
- Place the dough into a greased bundt pan/kugelhopf pan, or tube pan. Place it in a warm place, and cover with a linen or cotton towel, and allow it to rise for 1 hour.
- Heat the oven to 375 F. Bake the baba until it is golden, for some 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
- Combine the 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and it is clear—around 10 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly, then stir in the rum.
- Place the baba into a large bowl or some other apparatus so that the syrup can be poured on it without it spilling out. Prick it all over with a skewer to allow the syrup to penetrate. Pour the syrup over the cake, and either spoon the syrup over it as it settles into the base of the bowl, or use a baster to fulfill the same purpose.