Rum baba

“Anybody who believes that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography.” ~Robert Byrne

Easter is one of the most important family gatherings to me and my family. As important as Christmas. All of the other celebrations come second – well maybe birthdays being an exception.

I’m so happy we have established a new tradition or it actually turned into a tradition 4 or 5 years ago. Mom usually comes over to my place, we do grocery shopping together and cook everything for Easter table together while chatting and enjoying some wine as we go. One major rule to our get together to cook for Easter is a very limited amount of food on the table. If we are in the mood of trying something new and more dishes, we choose smaller portions to keep it healthy and enjoyable. 
There are always plenty of ideas for savory dishes. However when it comes to desserts or bakery, I’m lost most of the times. 
One of the traditional sweet treats on the Easter table is rum baba, also called Easter baba. Or so it is called in this region. It is a Eastern European version of Italian Panettone, a more simple version of it though, but as delicious! I always thought its preparation for baking is super complicated and time consuming. Well, surprisingly, now that I’ve tried it – it is not!

* 1 kg flour
* 500 ml room temperature milk
* 125 g butter
* 150 g sugar
* 25 g yeast
* 3 eggs
* 150 g raisins
* 150 g dried cherries
* 100 ml rum
* Zest of 1 orange
* 500 – 600 g icing sugar
* Juice of 1-2 lemons
Now perfect case scenario – soak raisins and cherries in rum overnight. If you don’t have the time or didn’t think of baking the rum baba the night before, give it at least a few hours.
When it comes to choosing rum or other types of alcohol for cooking, don’t go for the cheapest type! Use the type of rum you would enjoy drinking! 
Now that the time has come to prepare the batter for baba, get milk to room temperature and melt butter, mix together in a big bowl. Have in mind that once all ingredients are incorporated and let to rest for rising, the batter will almost triple.
In a separate dish dissolve yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and add to milk and butter mixture. Beat in the eggs, add sugar and whisk. Incorporate half of the flour, mix well; add orange zest and dried berries soaked in rum (and the rum!). Mix well and add the rest of the flour. Get ready to dip in your fingers and mix batter until it doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. 
My experience with kneading – didn’t get to the point of batter not sticking to my fingers anymore. Maybe it needed a few more tablespoons of flour, since I went by my gut feeling with the measurements, but decided to risk it and leave it thinner.
Leave it in the bowl covered with a cloth for a couple of hours in a warm place. When it rises, transfer it to the baking dish and give it another 30 minutes for rising. Just before baking, smear the top with a whisked egg. Bake in a 170 C degree oven for an hour.
I promise – your home will smell heavenly!
Have in mind that when you open the oven to check on your baba, make sure to open and close the door very delicately. If you slam it, your baba most probably will collapse.
Et voila! The baba is baked to perfection. Squeeze the lemon juice, add icing sugar and whisk very well until no more lumps remain. When baba has cooled down enough, pour the glaze over. Sprinkle some additional cherries or raisins if desired. Your baba is ready to be served!

Bon appetit! 

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