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Oct 20, 2023

Rum Baba (Baba au Rhum)

Rum baba, or baba au rhum, along with being a classic French dessert, is a delicious and elegant boozy yeasted cake. 

Traditional rum baba is a yeasted cake that is soaked in a rum-based syrup, then brushed with an apricot glaze, and finally topped with crème Chantilly (French whipped cream). 

Sometimes rum babas are made into little individual cakes. And then, sometimes they can be made in a kugelhopf mold and sliced into servings. You could also make this cake in a bundt pan or a savarin pan (ring mold). 

While savarin cakes, which are also French cakes that are soaked in booze, are similar to babas (but topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit), if you're my age, you probably used a savarin pan years ago to make Jello molds! I don't think I even knew what the pans were originally for, and I have three! I may actually have to use them as originally intended.  

In the meantime, I baked this cake in a smaller (6-cup) traditional bundt pan, which worked perfectly. I have two of these pans, which are great when you are baking cakes for gifts. 

If you want to make this cake in a full-sized (10-cup) bundt pan, you can easily double the recipe. 

Rum Baba Ingredients: 

The dough for baba au rhum, with eggs, milk, and butter, and a little bit of sugar, is similar in ingredients to brioche or babka dough, but with much less flour in order to create a batter rather than a dough-like texture. The resulting cake is more like sponge cake than bread. 

The cake batter also includes instant yeast, vanilla, all purpose flour, and salt. 

For the rum soaker syrup, combine water, sugar, and orange zest and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add rum off heat and then slowly pour the mixture over the cake until all or most of it is absorbed. 

For the glaze, you typically will need a combination of apricot jam diluted with a little rum or water. You heat it up to melt the jam, and then strain out the solids before brushing it on the outside of the cake. 

You could use any jam, jelly, or marmalade. I used a combination of peach jam and raspberry jam for my glaze. I'm trying to whittle down the number of jars in my fridge before adding more! If you do use raspberry jam, be sure to strain it to remove all of the seeds. 

Finally, the Chantilly is a simple mix of heavy cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla bean paste. Serve the cake with a generous dollop. 

By using confectioner's sugar rather than granulated, the whipped cream will be somewhat stabilized because of the small amount of cornstarch. My leftover Chantilly actually lasted in the fridge, in a covered bowl, for three days without getting weepy. 

Note: The alcohol in the syrup is not cooked off (and there is a lot of it), so I'm not recommending this cake for children and those who are abstaining. 

To make this cake without alcohol, you can use flavored syrups, such as Torani, and use less sugar with the water. Rest assured, you won't get tipsy on one piece though. 

While this rum syrup is flavored with orange, you can use different flavorings for the rum, such as vanilla beans or cardamom seeds. 

You can also use different types of booze such as apple brandy, armagnac, Grand Marnier, or limoncello. 

The trick to using as much of the soaking syrup as possible is to slowly pour it over the cake in many stages. First, begin with the cake in the pan while it is still cooling and then turn it out over the rack to add the rest. 

You'll need to pour about a quarter of the syrup over the cake, let it absorb, and then invert the cake to remove it from the pan. 

Once you've inverted the cake, slowly pour the syrup over the cake in stages and let it soak in. You might end up with some of the syrup not soaking in, so be sure to place the cake on a rack over a half sheet pan to capture any run off. 

Some bakers make the cake a day ahead of time, let it sit uncovered to dry a bit, and then add the boozy syrup the next day so that more will soak in. That's up to you! 

As an avid bread baker, the hardest part for me was getting used to the batter-like consistency of the dough. The original recipe calls for shaping the dough into a "soft ball," but there was absolutely no way this dough could be shaped, and I resisted the urge to add any more flour to turn the batter into a dough-like texture. 

I'm so happy I resisted, because the resulting baba was actually a cake! I'm thrilled with the flavor and texture, and no one knew this was a yeasted cake. 

This is a cake that I'll be making again. 

More Yeasted Cake Recipes:

Champagne Babas

Lardy Cake

Blueberry Brioche Coffee Cake

Apple Kuchen

Yeasted Pound Cake

Crumb Buns

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is Gâteau: The Surprising Simplicity of French Cakes by Aleksandra Crapanzano. We each choose one cake to bake, and on the 20th we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our Facebook page where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the links below to take you to each of our cakes. 

The Cake Slice Bakers also have Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

Our choices for October 2023 were ~

Suzy's Cake

Rum Baba
  • Karen's Kitchen Stories

Walnut, Pear and Roquefort Madeleines

This recipe in the book includes lots of suggestions for variations for the soaking syrups. 

I halved the recipe to accomodate the smaller bundt pan. We were super happy with this cake. It's a keeper. 

Rum Baba

Rum Baba
Yield: 10 slices
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Rum baba, or baba au rhum, is a boozy yeasted cake as well as a totally classic French dessert.


For the Dough/Batter
  • 7 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk at 115 degrees F.
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 200 grams (1 2/3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
For the Rum Syrup
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • Zest of half of an orange, in strips
For the Glaze
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam or other jam
  • 2 tablespoons rum
For the Chantilly
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


To Make the Baba
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. With the mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix. Add the vanilla, flour, salt, and butter and beat at medium speed for six minutes.
  3. Scrape the dough into an oiled dough rising bucket, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  4. Spray a 6-cup bundt pan with baking spray (with a combination of oil and flour).
  5. Pour the dough into the pan and tap the pan on the counter to slightly deflate the dough. It might not deflate very much. Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it reaches the top of the pan, about an hour. In the meantime, heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the interior reaches about 200 degrees F.
To Make and Incorporate the Rum Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a simmer and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum and zest.
  2. Let infuse while the cake is baking and then strain out the zest.
  3. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. While it is still in the pan, slowly pour about 1/4 of the syrup over the cake and let it aborb in.
  4. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack on top of a half sheet pan. Very slowly pour the rum syrup, in stages, over the cake so that the cake absorbs as much as possible.
To Make the Glaze
  1. Heat the jam and the rum over low heat until liquidy. Strain out the solids.
  2. Brush the glaze over the room temperature cake.
To Make the Chantilly
  1. Beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla to fluffy stiff peaks. Serve a generous amount over each piece.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

19 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

12 g

Carbs (grams)

49 g

Fiber (grams)

1 g

Net carbs

48 g

Sugar (grams)

30 g

Protein (grams)

5 g

Cholesterol (grams)

91 mg
dessert, cake
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I'm making the rum cake for next month. I hope it turns out as wonderful as yours.

    1. I'm thinking the same thing, now that I have this big bottle of rum, lol!

  2. Is it my understanding that you halved the above recipe, or should I double the recipe to fit into a regular sized Bundt pan? Thank you,
    Chef Ann

    1. Hi Ann, the recipe as written above, fits into a 6 cup (half size) bundt pan. To use a 10 cup bundt pan (full size), simply double the quantities I've listed. (I hope that makes sense!).


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