Back when we were kids living in Montreal, my dad used to take these rather glamourous three-week holidays to places like Paris and Mexico City. Of course, he’d take my mum on the conference trips to Portugal and Banff and Florida, and they’d get our crazy Grandma Pooley (or some hired lackey) to take care of us, but for his actual holidays, my dad always seemed to go on his own.
He seemed to plan for months and months for each holiday–taking French or Spanish lessons, corresponding with owners of pensions, etc. These trips became part of the pattern of our lives in the same way his business trips did, but the difference was that he always brought back great stories (and gifts!!) when he went on the holidays.
One of the stories I remember was of one of his trips to Paris when he went to a small cafe and, after his meal, ordered a Baba au Rhum for dessert. The server set down a piece of what looked like pound cake flecked with raisins in front of him and then slammed down a bottle of rum beside it. The idea was that he could pour on as much of the rum as he wanted.
I was always charmed by this story of the deconstructed Parisian Baba au Rhum and always intended, at some time in my life, to taste this exotic-sounding dessert, but by the time I was old enough to have the opportunity, Baba au Rhum (or “Rum Baba” as the the more pedestrian apparently call it) had gone out of favour on restaurant menus in favour of things like the “Mud Slide” cake and other rather vulgar-sounding desserts.
Even when I arrived in Paris for the first time at the tender age of seventeen, I found no reference to Baba au Rhum on any menu.
And so, alas, I never had the opportunity to actually taste Baba au Rhum.
Welllllll….here we are up at the cabin on J’s birthday weekend. I was trying to figure out what kind of dessert to make him with two bits of information in mind: he loves rum….and we have no milk (and, sadly, no cake mixes!). To my great delight, however, I found a recipe for an entirely vegan Baba au Rhum!!
I was more than a bit concerned because I’m not much of a dessert maker. Indeed, J is the grand master of desserts, but I could hardly get him to make his own birthday cake.
Anyway, I embarked on the recipe (which involved two risings of an hour each!!) and even as I served it , I was filled with trepidation.
It was, however, a complete success! J loved it!
….and, indeed, the hardest part was getting the cake to absorb the extraordinary amount of rum syrup the recipe called for. The warm cake is supposed to readily suck up the syrup, but I must’ve poured that damn rum juice over the cake five times before it all soaked in.
Fortunately, my darling J is much less stubborn and absorbs rum much more easily!!
Neverthess, it was quite delicious!