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Baba cake
Baba Rum-Flavored Cake with Crema Pasticcera
Originated from: Sorrento, Campania
Occasion: Special events
Contributed by: Marisa Pastore

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For the dough
400 grams flour
100 grams butter
5 eggs
3 teaspoons of fast-rising dried yeast
1/2 cup of warm milk and 1 teaspoon sugar to proof the yeast
80 grams sugar
A pinch of salt
1 packet of powdered vanilla

For the rum mixture
1/2 litre of water
200 grams of sugar
1 cup rum
Zest of 1 lemon

For the "cream pasticcera" (pastry cream)
7 egg yolks
350 grams sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
7 tablespoons flour
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cups 2 per cent partly skimmed milk
1 bag of vanilla powder, preferably, "Paneangel Aroma per dolci, Vanillina" (If powdered vanilla is unavailable one can substitute 1 teaspoon clear-colored vanilla)
50 grams softened butter (about 2 tablespoons)


To make the cake:

o Add a teaspoon of sugar to the milk. Warm it a little (Not too hot) and then add yeast. Proof it (takes about 10 minutes, if it bubbles then it is good enough).

o Mix flour with powdered vanilla, and pinch of salt.

o Beat eggs. Add butter.

o Incorporate dry ingredients of the dough with the wet ones and knead until it is a malleable dough.

o Shape the dough into a ball and place in a container. Cover the container with a cloth. Let it rest for about 20 minutes (or until it rises).

o Grease and flour the pan that will be used to bake the cake in (One can use a tube pan or a regular cake pan).

o Place the risen dough in the greased baking pan and cover. Let the dough rise for about another 20 minutes.

o Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

o Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the cake is ready (the crust should be a golden brown). P.S. Do not open the oven while it is cooking or the cake may drop.

To make the rum mixture:

o Warm up water.

o Add sugar. Stir.

o Add grated lemon zest.

o Add rum.

o Cook for a few minutes. Cool.

To make the layered cake:

o Cut the cake into 3 layers.

o Divide the rum and sugared water mixture into 4 parts (one part is for decorating the top of the cake, the rest is for layering the cake).

o Drench each layer of cake with the rum and sugared mixture, reserving some of the mixture for the top of the cake.

To make the pastry cream (crema pasticcera):

o Keep eggs in tepid water for about 8 minutes.

o Separate egg yolks from egg whites.

o Beat egg yolks.

o Add sugar. Stir by hand.

o Slowly add flour.

o Add finely grated lemon zest.

o Add milk. Mix well.

o Add bag of vanilla powder ("Paneangel's Aroma per dolci, Vanillina").

o Add softened butter and mix very well with a wooden spatula.

o Turn on burner on medium high heat (#7).

o Put mixture in a stainless steel pan (L'Agastina brand is very good) and put on burner.

o Using a large whisk, stir mixture while it cooks and thickens. Do NOT let it boil, but it should be warm enough for it to cook through. Keep stirring the mixture for about 15 minutes or until it has the consistency of a thick Italian-style cream.

o Cool.

To make the cream-filled cake.

o Add the pastry cream on the first layer.

o Top with the second layer.

o Add more pastry cream.

o Top with the second layer.

o Add more pastry cream.

o Top with the last cake layer.

o Drizzle the top and around the cake with the rum mixture.

o Keep in fridge until needed.


The baba rum-flavored cake was made by Marisa Pastore. The recipe was given to her by Lina DiSanto. The photo was taken by Mary Melfi.

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