Baba au Rhum or Rum Cake
recipe adapted from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)
For the rum syrup:
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 2/3 cup good dark rum
* ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the baba:
* 1/3 cup golden raisins, finely chopped
* 1/3 cup candied citrus rind, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
* 1 tablespoon good dark rum
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* ½ cup (soy) milk
* 1/4 ounce fast-rising active dry yeast (one packet)
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
* ½ teaspoon salt
* ¾ cup apricot-orange preserves
1. Make the baba: Combine the golden raisins, citrus rind, lemon zest and rum in a small bowl and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush a 5-cup (6 1/2 X 3 1/2-inch) tube pan or kugelhopf mold (have neither of these options in the house I simply used a loaf pan, which worked just as well) with the melted butter. Be sure to coat every crevice of the pan. Heat the milk to 115°F (46°C) and then pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Not having a stand mixer I used my electric hand mixer for these steps and put in the attachment with the wider beaters, though I was admittedly afraid this might ruin the whole recipe, which it didn’t so don’t worry.) Stir in the yeast and sugar and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
2. With the mixer on low speed, first add the eggs, then the flour, salt, and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater to form the dough into a ball. It will be very soft. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (This is one of the few recipes I’ve come across where the rising time was actually accurate / sufficient.)
3. Drain the raisins, rind, and zest (empty any remaining rum into the prepared syrup [I didn’t have any remaining]), fold them into the dough with a spatula, and spoon into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, cover the pan with a damp towel, and allow to rise until the dough reaches the top of the pan, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and make the rum syrup (see next step). Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then tap it out of the cake pan onto a baking rack set over a sheet pan.
5. Make the rum syrup: Place the sugar, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup and allow to cool. Add the rum and vanilla and set aside.
6. Pour all of the rum syrup very slowly onto the warm cake, allowing it all to soak in thoroughly. Amazingly, the liquid will be absorbed into the cake, so be sure to use all of the syrup.
7. Heat the preserves with 1 tablespoon of water until runny, and brush it on the cake, both top and sides.
The original recipe says to: Serve with whipped cream piped into the middle of the cake plus an extra bowl on the side. If you choose to do this, below are the directions for making the whipped cream. I personally did not do this step, in part because it was being served at a potluck and I didn’t think it would hold up well over time and also because I thought it was fantastic without it.
For the whipped cream:
* 2 cups cold heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Make the whipped cream: Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don’t overheat, or you’ll end up with butter!