Baba Rum Cake

By on December 1, 2011

By Jennifer Cote, Chef at The New Deli , Pinole, CA–

“Frazzled Housewife” is almost becoming a foreign word. With the convenience of fast food and store-bought items that require minimal preparation, we can spend very little time in the kitchen. If a special event comes up, we can call the bakery department of most any grocery store. No need to be frazzled—dial it in!

It isn’t until we hit the school bake sales, or the church cake walk, or the birthday celebration, that we even miss the days of that frazzled housewife. She was the one who prepared foods from scratch, who baked homemade birthday cupcakes for her kids’ classrooms. Her desserts didn’t look airbrushed to perfection; they looked homemade. But that was a good thing.

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When special occasions come up, I like to pull out a favorite recipe. It may mean becoming slightly frazzled in the process, as in the last time I made a Baba Rum Cake. I poured the rum into a pot of boiling hot syrup (still on the stove); the pilot light lit the rum, and we had a little show of two foot flames for a brief time. It was pretty exciting, although for future recipes, setting that pot on the counter would prevent a recurrence.

Baba Rum Cake’s been a family favorite for years, and the recipe has much to qualify it as such. It slices easily (even into small pieces), and it keeps very well. It’s almost a cross between a cake and a candy confection; the cake itself doesn’t have much sugar, but it gets soaked in sugar syrup after baking. That syrup has been boiled to “soft-ball stage”; then the rum gets poured in. Theoretically, all the alcohol boils away. No one’s going to get drunk eating the cake, although some may have tried!

As the holidays come upon us, it’s fun to create traditions. We may not eat special desserts all the time, but when friends and family gather to celebrate the occasions, it’s nice to make them memorable. Hopefully, we don’t have to become too frazzled in the process!


Baba Rum Cake

This is a memorable holiday cake in our family. If you’re not big on rum, skip the alcohol, using other flavorings. Serves 12.


  • 8 eggs total (divided)
  • 5  c. sugar, divided (two 1/2 c. + 4 c. sugar)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2/3  c. butter
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 8 egg whites
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 c. rum (or substitute 2 tsp. almond,  lemon, or orange extract,  plus scant 1 c. water)

Beat until fluffy: > 8 egg yolks > 1/2 c. sugar > 2 tsp. vanilla

Microwave 40 seconds (until melted): > 2/3 c. butter

Set aside mixture of: > 2 c. flour > 1/2 tsp. salt > 2 tsp. baking powder

Whip until almost stiff: > 8 egg whites

Add slowly to beaten egg whites, while whipping: > 1/2 c. sugar

Fold the above ingredients together, incorporating the flour into the whipped egg yolk mix alternately with the melted butter, folding the egg whites in last of all. Bake in a buttered bundt pan at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Begin syrup right away, stirring occasionally, boiling the following in a saucepan until it reaches 235 degrees on a candy thermometer: > 4 c. sugar > 4 c. water

When syrup is to temperature, remove and add: > 1 c. rum (or substitute 2 tsp. almond, lemon, or orange extract, plus scant 1 c. water)

Leaving cake in pan, pour hot syrup over cake immediately. Let cake soak 2 hours, then turn out onto plate.


Jennifer Cote and husband Tom established The New Deli back in 1985, raising two kids in the process. Growing their business led to discovering how to cook healthy food quickly and efficiently; Jennifer has also published a cookbook/devotional entitled “From the Land of Milk and Honey”. Find recipes and learn about Jen’s shortcuts and cooking with whole foods at


About Jennifer Cote

Jennifer's love of cooking with natural ingredients is inspired by the organic garden she's cultivated for over 25 years. A cutting garden provides flowers for The New Deli Cafe, an herb garden lends herbs for culinary creations, and twenty-some fruit and nut trees are scattered throughout her fairly urban back yard. New Deli compost keeps the garden flourishing, as Jen and her family carry on the family business, established in 1985. A blessed grandmother, mother, and wife, Jen gets much joy from sharing recipes (and perhaps an occasional basket of figs or platter of home-baked goodies).

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Baba Rum Cake