The babá is a classic Italian pastry one can find in nearly any Italian pastry shop in Italy (pasticceria). Looking like a wet popover, it is drenched in rum like a sponge, giving it that extra kick as it goes down pleasantly. Piero is another friend from south of Rome (originally Napoli! Sabaudia where we met) who loves to cook. He and Ida have a fancy kitchen robot machine called a Bimby that they use to create all kinds of interesting dishes, including probably the bundt pan shaped baba cake he served us one summer, opening our eyes up to the possibility of enjoying this tasty treat without having to become pastry chefs. We asked for the recipe.
From: Pietro Cielo
Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2011 3:15 PM
To: Robert Jantzen
this is the recipe of the rhum cake.
Ingredienti per 8 persone
il babà: 300 g di farina; 45 g di zucchero; 4 uova; 100 g di burro;
1 cubetto di lievito di birra; un po’ di sale.
[flour, sugar, eggs, butter, brewer's yeast, salt]
lo sciroppo: 1 litro d’acqua; 500 g di zucchero; 500 g di rum
[water, sugar, white rum]
Preparare il babà
Versare insieme gli ingredienti da impastare ed impastare a lungo. Lasciare lievitare per 30 minuti. Lavorare ancora l’impasto, toglierlo e metterlo nell’apposito stampo. Lasciare lievitare ancora per un’ora. Cuocere in forno caldo a 220 gradi per 10 minuti, poi a 180 gradi per altri 20 minuti.
Preparare lo sciroppo
Mettere in un frullatore acqua e zucchero e mescolare per otto minuti. Togliere e aggiungere il rum. Con questo sciroppo inzuppare il babà appena sfornato.
Five and a half years later we find motivation from a cousin in Lebanon whose family has a megarestaurant in the Becca valley in Ani's Armenian village from which her family found their way to America. Having found by chance googling for Anjar, a You Tube video in Arabic turned up that features a miniature babá cake towards the end. Reminding us of our good intentions 5 years earlier. So how do we make this into one of our recipes? Google and compare. Ina Garten seemed to have the simplest recipe if we discard her currants topping. We convert her 2 extra large eggs to 3 large eggs and proceed. Who buys extra large eggs anyway?
The cake batter really does rise nicely. And the final result is a very light cake. We tried Bailey's cream liqueur flavored whipped cream to serve with it, but some lemon juiced berries and mango pieces would nicely complement both. Very nice.
Ironically in the meantime we have become regular popover makers. Which look just like the babá pastry shape but are empty inside, hence even lighter. Maybe we could contemplate actually making little babás.