Rum baba, a historic cake, made here using the technique of jar-baking, which has caught on in the baking and confectionery world in recent years.
The technique consists of baking the cake in the oven after placing it in special glass jars.
This type of baking permits long conservation and preserves all the cake’s aroma and flavour for months after the date of production.
Biting into the cake, it evokes all the characteristic fragrances and aromas of a baba fresh from the oven.
The history of the rum baba began in the eighteenth century.
Its invention has been attributed to the Polish king Stanislaw Leszczyński, a great food lover.
It would appear that, tired of eating Gugelhupf, a typical yeasted cake that tended to go dry, the king had the idea of dunking it in Madeira wine.
The variant was subsequently enriched with raisins, candied fruit and saffron.
Fascinated by Byzantine culture, Stanislaw decided to call the new cake Ali Babà.
The king was exiled to France, and when his daughter married Louis XV, she and the pastry chef Nicolas Stohrer introduced the cake to Versailles.
There Madeira was replaced by rum, very much in fashion at the time.
In Paris the baba was transformed still further.
First the candied fruit and saffron were eliminated, then in the nineteenth century master chef Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin took out the raisins and added butter and apricot jam.
Babas appeared in Italy, more specifically in Naples, at the end of the eighteenth century during the reign of Ferdinand IV, where it took on its present form, known in Neapolitan dialect as babbà.
AREA OF PRODUCTION
Italy is certainly the country that has made rum baba so famous.
From Naples it has spread and become hugely popular all over the world.
In France, instead, it’s easy to come across Savarin cake, an exquisite ring-shaped rum baba.
Our version is made in the small Piedmontese town of Barge, in the province of Cuneo, proof of how widespread this extraordinary cake is today.
Flour, eggs, butter, sugar, yeast, salt.
For the syrup: water, sugar, fine Martinique rum.
The Petra type 00 soft wheat flour of the Quaglia mill in Vighizzolo d’Este (Padua), which grinds 100% Italian soft wheat from sustainable farms practising integrated crop management.
Category A untreated 0-kilometre fresh eggs from the Azienda Agricola Martina farm in Bagnolo Piemonte (Cuneo).
‘Burro di Latteria Corman etichetta Premium’, a butter which in 2016 received the ‘Superior Taste Award’ from the International Taste & Quality Institute, an international leader in the tasting and promotion of superior quality foods and beverages.
Supplied by Italia Zuccheri, the only sugar company using 100% Italian sugar, the sugar beet being sowed, grown and processed exclusively in Italy by member farms and growers.
A tiny quantity of brewer’s yeast is added to the dough to achieve the right degree of rising.
The syrup is made exclusively with Martinique agricultural rum, supplied by Camel, a historic Friuli-Venezia Giulia distillery established by master distiller Bepi Tosolini.
Jar-baked rum babas are made by master pastry chef Marco Lusso at the Pasticceria Luciano pastry shop in Barge (Cuneo).
Marco is a young artisan with big ideas and an incredible talent for baking and confectionery.
Only 37, he holds bakery and confectionery courses for experts in the sector and colleagues, and his award-winning, strictly naturally-leavened Viennoiseries (croissants, brioches, pain au chocolat).
He and his staff make classic Piedmontese cakes and confectionery every day, but they also like to draw on the French and other Italian regional traditions.
Constant experimentation, aimed at meeting the needs of the modern customer, has allowed them to create this exceptional version of the Neapolitan cake.
Conceived and realised by Marco, even the most classic cakes assume unique forms, colours and flavours.
Marco Lusso’s amazing cakes and confectionery inspire a sense of marvel and incredulity, of disorientation for the unexpected.
The first step is to prepare the dough.
It is made with reduced air pockets to allow the cake to absorb the rum better.
The dough consists of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, yeast and salt, and in many respects may be compared to that of Venetian pandoro.
After proving for about an hour, it is transferred to a jar and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180° C.
Before sealing the jar, the baba is impregnated with a well-balanced syrup of water, sugar and fine Martinique agricultural rum.
PERIOD OF PRODUCTION
Rum babas are produced continuously and may be bought and consumed all year round.
Rum babas, which are free from preservatives, have an average life of 180 days from their date of production (check the ‘best before’ date on the jar).
Excellent at the end of a meal or at any time of day as a delicious snack, they should be stored at room temperature (20°C).
They may be served with custard, cream, chocolate or soft fruit, or eaten on their own to enjoy the full flavour of the rum.
AIbeit preserving the salient features of the historic recipe, Marco Lusso’s rum babas are a modern revisitation of the cake whose fragrance, aroma and flavour are not to be missed.