This is another ‘Blast from the past’ post. 2009.
No visit to Paris for pastry geeks should exclude a visit to the temple of one of pastry’s greatest cakes, Storher at Rue Montorgeuil near Les Halles in Paris. Storher made the original Rum Baba, a simple yeast leavened cake soaked in copious amounts of Rum.
Historians (Read, the internet) says that a greedy Polish king exiled to Alsace made a Rum Baba by soaking a rich, German cake, called a Gugelhopf in alcohol. He was as well a fan of ‘A thousand and one nights’, thus he named his creation a Baba au Rhum.
There might be a bit of history twisting there in regards to the origins of the name, as Babka is a similar cake in Poland, and Baba (According to the internet) means to be dizzy or ‘fall over’ in French. This same Baba au Rhum is called Borracho in Spain, which means ‘Drunk’.
Regardless the origins of the name, we can all agree that this is one helluva cake that gives you a good boozy horsekick. Nicolas Stohrer, a patissier in the King’s court brought it to Paris with the King’s daughter and the rest is history. Mixed with butter, eggs and strong flour, this rich dough is left to rise either in cylindrical molds (Like in the pictures above), or in round circle molds with a dimple in the middle.
After the dough has risen and baked like bread, its left to dry out a bit before being soaked in hot rum syrup. Simple adorned with candied cherry and angelica as above, its the original Baba au Rhum. Bake it in a round circle mold, pipe whipped cream on it adorned with fresh fruits, and it becomes a Savarin.
The original version fed to the King is said to have been a dough perfumed with Saffron and soaked in Malaga wine. I guess we’d have no choice but to make it ourselves if we would like to feast like an exiled King!
When Stohrer set up shop in Rue Montorgeuil (The shop still stands today!), he made the current version with rum only. Biting into it, the strong Baba dough gives a nice chew, releasing sweet alcohol shots with every bite.
Well worth a try, if you are in Paris, because it is a nice way to get some extra ‘legs’ from all that walking. Personally, its a pleasant cake, but not one I’d go googoo about. I’d sure like to try the original with Saffron and Malaga wine, as it sounds like a more flavourful counterpart to this one. If I walked past Stohrer again, what the heck, I’d still buy it to have a taste of history!