Baba au Rhum

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

baba au rhum is a rum-saturated, yeast-leavened cake that is as soaked in legend as it is in boozy syrup. The name comes from the Slavic term for “old lady” and has been used by Czechs and Poles for a variety of sweet, mold-baked preparations since at least the Middle Ages. At some point before the eighteenth century, the term also became a synonym for Gugelhupf. See gugelhupf. The Nouveau grand dictionnaire françois, latin et polonois et sa place dans la lexicographie polonaise (1743) defines a “baba ciasta” (dough baba) as a yellow cake (gâteau). In France, the word was adopted for just such a saffron-tinted pastry sometime in the eighteenth century, presumably due to the influence of exiled Polish king Stanisław Leszczyński or his daughter Marie Leszczyńska, the queen consort of Louis XV.