This Baba au Rhum, with slight adaptations from Barefoot Contessa, is the best. It is light and springy and with the right amount of soaking rum syrup. Not too much to make it soggy; not too little to make it dry; and with a balanced amount of rum. I added some vanilla extract and zest to the cake (lemon, orange or lime but the latter one is my favorite); and I cut down the amount of apricot preserve glaze which was a bit too much. I use a 9 cup savarin ring mold but you can also use a
9 cup Kugelhopf pan or even a 6 cup bundt pan. Serve with some fresh whipped cream placed in the hole in the middle of the baba, and top it with some fresh fruits like cut up strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, etc. —Regine
unsalted butter, room temperature
package active dry yeast (7 grams or 21/4 tsp)
large or extra large eggs, room temperature
grated zest of a lime or lemon (if using rhum) or orange (if using Grand Marnier)
1 2/3 cups
all purpose flour
optional 1/3 cups
dried currants with 1 tbsp rum or Grand Marnier
Combine the currants and rum in a small bowl and set aside. I like to microwave them for 20 seconds and set aside, covered with a plastic wrap.
Spray the 9 cup savarin ring, or 9 cup Kugelhopf, or 6 cup Bundt pan. My favorite is my 9 cup savarin mold.
Microwave or heat milk, and use a candy thermometer to make sure it is at 115 degrees F. Try to microwave it for 10 seconds at a time. If it ends up warmer, just wait until it reaches 115 degrees F. You don't want it hotter because the higher temperature can kill the yeast. If it is much colder, on the other hand, it may not activate the yeast. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk; stir and then add/stir the sugar. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
With the mixer at low speed, add the eggs, then the flour and salt (I like to start doing this manually so as to prevent flour from flying all over), and the butter. Raise speed to medium high and beat for 5 minutes. You may need to scrape bowl to make sure all the batter is where it should be. Cover bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise until doubled in size. May take 1 or more hours depending on temperature. You can do my microwave trick of boiling a cup of water in the microwave, and then place the bowl with the dough inside, next to the cup of boiled water. Close microwave door and try not to peek. But you can after ½ hour or so, remove bowl, microwave water again and place bowl back inside.
Punch down the dough with a spatula to flatten the raised dough, and stir in the currants. Put dough into sprayed pan, cover the pan and allow it to rise (using same microwave tricks if desired) to double the size. May take 50 minutes to 1 hour or more, depending on temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and make the rum syrup. It takes me 20 minutes to bake the cake in my 9 cup ring pan. Use a long skewer or toothpick to test cake and see if it comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then unmold on a cooling rack or plate. Wash and dry pan and place the cake back into the pan by covering the cake with the pan and flipping it over. Slowly pour the rum syrup over the cake. Please put ALL of the syrup; do not be tempted to put less. All the syrup will amazingly get absorbed into the cake. Be patient. You may have to wait 30 seconds or more before you add more syrup and so on. Leave cake in pan for one hour and then unmold onto plate.
Heat the preserves with the 2 tsp water until runny; then press through a sieve and brush it all over the cake. I recommend a pastry brush. Serve if desired with whipped cream placed or piped into the middle of the cake, and some fruits on top of the whipped cream. See picture. If you are lazy, buy a cool whip spray and spray the cool whip into the middle of the cake.
Place the sugar and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool into a heat proof container; then add the rum.