Baba Au Rhum Cake History

Baba Au Rhum Cake – Baba Au Savarin – Savar


Baba Au Rhum Cake is a small cakes made from yeast dough containing raisins or currants.  Baba Au Rhum Cake is baked in cylindrical molds and then soaked with sugar syrup usually flavored with rum (originally they were soaked in a sweet fortified wine).  After these cakes were soaked in the wine sauce for a day, the dried fruits would fall out of them.

Baba (BAH-bah) Baba is called Babka in Poland and in France.  In French, the word baba meaning, “falling over or dizzy.”

The dessert became very popular in France, but the people called it Baba Au Rhum and soon dropped the name Savarin.  In other parts of the world, the cake is known as simply Savarin.  In Turkey this cake is called “father’s cake.”

– It is believed to be a version of a kugelhopf, which was invented in Lemberg in the 1600s.  The baba was brought to Paris, France by King Stanislas Leszczynska, the deposed king of Poland and the father-in-law of King Louis XV (17101774) of France when he was exiled to Lorraine.

According to legend, he found the customary kouglhopf too dry for his liking and dipped the bread in rum.  He was so delighted that he named the cake after one of the heroes of his favorite book, Ali Baba from A Thousand and One Nights.  Later, his chef refined the sweet bread by using brioche dough and adding raisins to the recipe.  The dish was then simply called baba.

Baba Au Rhum/Baba Au Savarin
– A Savarin is a yeast dough baked in a ring mold and soaked in rum syrup, the center hole brimming with pastry cream, creme chantilly, or fresh fruit.  The dessert is a close relative of the Eastern European baba, which includes dried fruit in the dough and is served without a filling.

According to the famous book called Larousse Gastronomique, The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery, by Prosper Montagne:

“At the same time a Parisian Maitre Patissier, Julien, by omitting raisins from the dough, giving the cake another shape and changing the syrup in which it was steeped (this syrup remained the secret of his establishment for a long time) created the Brillat-Savarin, which later became simply savarin.”

The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson says that one of the Julien brothers, from a family of Parisian pastry-makers, set his mind to experimenting with the baba recipe sometime in the 1840s. The result was this rich and tasty dessert, which he named in honor of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), celebrated French gourmet and writer on gastronomy.




Food History    Historical Cakes   

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