NZ Woman's Weekly

Soak it in: Rum Baba

  • Meal Type

  • Total time

    5+ hours
  • Servings

  • Courses

  • Occasion

    Special occasion

Usually I try to persuade keen cooks that making old-fashioned food is really easy and that your family and friends will love you. It takes nothing to whip up a pudding or a lovely piece of liver. But when it comes to the rum baba, I can’t lie to you – put aside a day, be prepared for three risings and a lot of fuss, but be assured the
results are astonishing.

These yeasty treats are soaked in rum syrup, then glazed with jam – a divine dessert worth the effort. Rum baba enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the 1960s, where it was a sophisticated dessert to serve at a dinner party, but it originated in the early 1800s thanks to an exiled king of Poland. He arrived in France with a cake that had dried out and had the idea of soaking it in alcohol. It was then taken over by Parisian bakers, who renamed it.

You can get tall, cylindrical moulds for individual baba, but some people cook it in a large pudding mould. I used my muffin tins, which meant they were the perfect size for individual desserts.

Makes 16 babas

Rum baba


  • 1½ tsp granulated yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • (not too hot)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125g softened butter


  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 tbsp dark rum


  • 1 cup marmalade or apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp dark rum

1. To make the dough, mix the yeast and warm milk with a pinch of sugar. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
2. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mix. It should be sticky and wet.
3. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 20 minutes. Add the eggs and butter to this and mix until you have a dough which is smooth and elastic. You may need to add more flour at this stage to thicken it up a bit – I added ½ cup. You want it to be like a thick batter rather than a bread dough.
4. Again, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour, or until it has doubled.
5. Spoon into well-greased muffin tins, filling each one ½ full. Let the dough rise until it reaches the top of the moulds, then put in a 230ºC oven. Turn the temperature down to 200ºC when you put them in.
6. Remove from tins and turn out to cool on a wire rack.

1. Combine water and sugar, and stir over heat until the sugar dissolves. Leave to boil for 10 minutes without stirring, then remove from the heat and add the rum. Let cool until just warm.
2. Place the baba upside down
on a wire rack over a tin to catch any drips. Using a spoon, slowly drizzle the syrup onto the babas so that they absorb as much of it as possible. Keep going around each one until all the syrup has been absorbed.

1. Heat the jam or marmalade and water together, stirring until the jam melts. Stir in the rum, then strain out any fruit using a sieve.
2. Turn the babas right way up and brush the glaze over the top. Serve warm or cold with lashings of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Do you have a Nana recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at: or write to Nana’s Pantry, NZWW, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142

Irene van Dyk

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