Week 6 Signature: Baba au Rhum

We are officially halfway! Week 6 is themed after European cakes, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage as an American. I’m not familiar with yeast-leavened cakes from Europe. Fortunately examples were provided in the episode, which made research a little easier. The cakes should at least be inspired by a traditional European cake and must be leavened with yeast. Working with yeast doesn’t bother me, but I’m not sure how these should taste. This feels more like a technical challenge than a signature.

The Plan

I had to do some research to figure out what types of European cakes were leavened with yeast. It was between an Austrian kugelhopf and a baba au rhum. A rum baba/baba au rhum is soaked in syrup made with rum. Ultimately I decided on a baba au rhum, as it is traditionally set on fire! I thought it would be fun to try flambee for a little pizzazz. I used Melissa Clark’s recipe from NY Times Cooking. I especially liked that she switched traditional raisins for chocolate.

The Bake

  1. The Dough

It is so strange to me to start a cake with yeast. It goes against my muscle memory. I got the yeast to foam nicely. After adding in the other ingredients, I ended up with a wet dough.

2. The Rise

A yeasted dough means proofing. The half of the dough went into a bundt pan, followed by the chocolate, then the rest of the dough. I usually proof in my oven, where I can be sure it won’t be disturbed.

3. The Bake

I greased the pan like crazy. If the pan got caught anywhere I was afraid it wouldn’t rise. I also didn’t want trouble pulling it out of the pan. Messy exterior means messy presentation.

I baked it until I could see a nice rise and a golden brown bottom. It looked and smelled like bread!

4. The Syrup

I boiled cinnamon sticks with orange, dark rum, sugar, etc. The instructions said to pour the rum syrup over the cake several times until there was a little syrup left. This involved pouring it over the cake on a cake rack over a sheet pan. Then I had to move the cake, pour the syrup back into a bowl, and repeat. I kept going, probably pouring over about 6 times. I was worried the cake would get soggy.

I chickened out on the fire. Sorry!

Final Result

The best aspect of this cake was the rise. I don’t think it was too densely textured. Unfortunately like the tiramisu, I failed the soak the cake enough. However, where the rum was I could definitely taste a difference in the cake. That syrup was sweet and delicious. Also, the tunnel of chocolate sort of failed. It was thin and lopsided, so I could barely taste any chocolate.

In regard to presentation it was a little plain. I’m not quite sure how to dress up this cake. It doesn’t seem like it would be tasty with frosting. Maybe a little chocolate work would have dressed it up and brought out the rest of the chocolate.

What do you think? Would I get to stay another week? Let me know in the comments!

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