While you can all rum and any other spirits to most cakes, crepes and desserts, baba au rhum is the king.
It has a rich yeast dough with an airy, light texture with plenty of cavities to absorb liquor without falling apart and becoming too soggy. It is also just perfect to serve to a number of guests and to set it alight for a dramatic extra touch.
Traditional baba au rhum recipes use raisins or other dried fruit that can be soaked in rum and other spirits to boost the alcohol content.
But you can go for extra flavor instead by using chocolate and spices to add interest. You can vary the strength of the rum, but a standard 80-proof variety works well.
Pour 1/2 cup warm water into an electric mixer bowl or a plain bowl (if using a hand mixer). Mix in the sugar and sprinkle the dried yeast on top. Mix and set aside stand until the yeast starts to froth, generally 5 - 10 minutes. Using a low speed and a separate bowl, beat the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and salt while mixing. Add the frothed yeast mixture. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and mix on a moderate setting until the mixture is smooth and creamy (generally about 2 minutes). Scrape down the mixture from the sides of bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for about 1 hour in a warm place until the mixture doubles in volume.
Grease a tube pan or bundt pan (about 5-cup size) with softened butter. Spoon half the cake mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Carefully sprinkle chocolate on top of batter. Make sure that none of the chocolate the sides of the pan. Then, spoon remaining mixture on top of the over chocolate. Cover the batter and pan with plastic wrap and set aside for another hour to rise in the pan. This ensures the baba au rhum will be light and fluffy when cooked.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Remove plastic wrap from the pan and bake the baba in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until it is a deep golden brown color and firm to the touch. Let the baba cool in the pan, placed on a wire rack, for about 10 minutes. Then while it is still warm, turn out the baba onto a rack and let cool completely.
To make the sauce, combine brown sugar, orange peel, cloves, 1 1/2 cups water, ginger and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil over medium heat. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to fully cool down to room temperature. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids. Then, stir in 1/2 cup of rum. Pour the rum sauce slowly over the top of the cake placed on a wire rack with a pan underneath. Allow excess sauce to drip into the pan. Repeat several times until most of the sauce has soaked into the cake. The extra sauce can be reserved for serving.
To make the cream dressing, whip the heavy cream till soft peaks form. Add the crème fraîche, vanilla and sugar and beat gently to combine well.
To serve, place cake on large platter. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup rum into a small frying pan and heat over high heat. Tilt the pan slightly so that rum catches fire (or use a match and candle for an electric stove). Pour the flaming rum over cake and serve. Let the flames die down before cutting. Spoon the whipped cream into the hollow center of the cake. To serve, cut into slices and add dollop with whipped cream. Serve with the left over rum sauce in a small bowl.