Recipe Revival: Baba au Rhum

This delicious rum cake from scratch is an easy and elegant update on a classic recipe from our January 1975 issue. 
Story by Whitney Wright

The original: A sophisticated French confection that became très chic in America when Julia Child was the crème de la crème of cooks. We love the classic yeast recipe—except for its whopping 6 hours of prep time! The revival: A shortcut rum cake from scratch that'll earn "ooh la las" from your luncheon or teatime crowd. Whipped egg whites give it baba au ruhm's signature airy crumb, the perfect texture to soak up a divine rum syrup.

Recipe Revival: Coffee Baba au Rhum

6 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. coffee extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. finely ground coffee
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups brewed coffee
1/2 cup rum*

Garnishes: whipped cream, fresh raspberries, powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together yolks and granulated sugar until mixture is thick and pale (about 2 minutes). Stir in coffee extract. Sift together flour and next 3 ingredients; gently stir into yolk mixture until just blended. Stir in butter and milk until just blended.

2. Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third egg whites into yolk mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into a well-buttered 10-cup Bundt pan.

3. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. (Do not remove from pan.)

4. Meanwhile, bring brown sugar and brewed coffee to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in rum. Reserve 2 cups syrup. Return pan to stove top; cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.

5. Pierce cake 10 to 15 times using a skewer. Pour reserved 2 cups thin syrup over cake. Let stand 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving platter. Spoon desired amount of thickened syrup over cake. Reserve remaining syrup for another use (such as topping pancakes).

Makes 12 servings. Hands-on 35 min.; Total 2 hours, 10 min.

*The rum is optional. Replace it with an additional 1/2 cup brewed coffee, if desired.