Word of the Day – Tuesday, December 25th



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BABA (BAH-buh)

A small leavened cake usually made with raisins and soaked in rum
Common clues: Cake with a kick; Alcohol-laced dessert; Rum-flavored cake; ____ au rhum; Raisin rum cake
Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year
Frequency in English language: 30338 / 86800
Chestnut and baba au rhum

[Courtesy of the French Pastry Chef]

According to legend, baba was brought to Paris in the 1600s by King Stanislas Leszczynska, who had been deposed from Poland. Apparently he found the customary kouglhopf too dry for his liking and dipped the bread in rum. He was so thrilled with this combination that he decided to name it after Ali Baba, one of the heroes in his favorite book, A Thousand and One Nights. His chef later refined the sweet bread by using brioche dough and adding raisins to the recipe. The dish at this time was simply called “baba”.

A century later, French chef Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin created a cake that he served with a rum sauce that he called Baba Au Savarin. This dessert became very popular in France, but soon people began dropping the name Savarin and simply called it Baba Au Rhum.