food. family. life.

baba torta al la napolitana con crema pasticcera: {neapolitan rum cake}

September and October are favorite months for our famiglia.

We celebrate two birthdays (Carina who turned 18 and I who turned the big 50) and we Daniel and I celebrate our wedding anniversary (5 lovely years) on October 2nd.

Poor planning on our part for sure, but Dan and I decided not to attempt cramming all our celebrations on the actual date, we chose and prefer to spread the festivities which take place over a span of weeks and lovely weekends.

I wanted an unforgettable dolce recipe to represent these very special moments… one that is brimming with flavor; sweet, sultry and bold.

One of my all-time favorite Italian dolce, the rum-soaked, crema filled Baba al Rum, which actually originated as a much desired pastry in France, was quickly adopted by the Italians who took the recipe back home to their cucina.cucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_50

The torta is a yeasty unsweetened sponge that is later luxuriously soaked in a warm rum sugar syrup and left to rest.

There is truly nothing more sinful and satisfying, a dolci that pleases me and my famiglia completely.

This is an original recipe from food blogger, Memorie di Angelina.

Her recipe is the most authentic and I fell in love the idea of making a torta (cake) vs. the traditional individual pastry.

Make this for your next celebration and it will soon become a favorite in your cucina.



1 1/4 cups flour

2 tbsp. dry active yeast

approx. 3/4 cup warm water

approx 3/4 cup of boiled potato (broken up with a fork until mealy)

1/3 cup or so of unsalted butter or margarine

pinch of sea salt

pinch of sugar

3 whole organic eggs

zest of 1 orange and lemon, if desiredcucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_04

{rum syrup}

approx. 1 3/4 cups sugar

approx. 2 cups water

approx. 1/2 to 3/4 cups high quality spiced rum (more to taste, if desired)

{crema pasticcera}: vanilla

8 organic egg yolks

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup flour

4 cups milk

grated zest of one lemon

*Alchemes liquor (splash if desired)


{crema pasticcera}: ciocolata

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (or equal amount of unsweetened baking bar)

additional sugar to taste

additional milk to desired consistency

For the dough:

Proof the dry yeast with about 1/4 cup of flour (from your reserved 1 1/4 cups of flour) in a deep bowl. Mix with a fork and add the full 3/4 cup of warm water, blend well and cover with plastic wrap.

Let sit in a warm place in your cucina (inside a previously warmed oven that is now off works best.) Let rest for 30 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and rises slightly.

Using your standing mixer bowl with the paddle on low, mix together the remaining flour, potato, butter or margarine, sea salt and sugar. Blend well until all is evenly distributed.

This mixture will have a grainy consistency. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well as each addition. Stop the mixer and add the proofed yeast mixture when ready, then continue to blend until you have a very sticky formed dough.

Grease a ring mold or bundt style decorative mold very well. Gather up the dough and using a spatula spread the dough evenly into the mold pan.cucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_09

The sticky dough will be a bit hard to handle, I find using my hands as my Italian ancestors did works the best for me.

Cover the mold pan with plastic wrap and let sit and rest for 1 to 2 hours at the least (until it has doubled in size in the pan.)

Take this time while the dough is resting and rising to make the rum syrup for drizzling on top of the torta.

In a medium deep saucepan add the water and sugar.

Place on medium heat (bring to very slow boil) and using a wooden spoon stir constantly, until the sugar melts in and the consistency begins to thicken slightly. Simmer for about a minute or so.

Add a healthy splash of the measured rum, and continue to stir and blend as the mixture continues to thicken. Add remaining rum and continue to simmer very slowly until mixture is thickened and blended well.

Taste the syrup at this point, it should be very sweet with the flavor of the rum in the background (if desired add a bit more rum once off the stove to enhance the rum flavor.) remove from the heat but keep warm for the final step.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit until it reaches temperature.

Place the now uncovered mold pan onto the middle rack in your oven and let bake for 20 to 30 minutes or so, or until the top has turned a beautiful light golden brown (insert a cake tester or toothpick to check doneness.)

Remove from oven and let cool slightly (about 15 minutes or so, until just slightly warm to the touch.)

Once cake is cooled enough, carefully unmold your torta on to a serving plate or cake stand for serving. Using a sharp knife, prick the entire top surface area of the torta for the next step.cucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_56

Carefully begin spooning the warm rum syrup over the top of the torta, allow the syrup to run down the sides, etc. and give time between each spoonful for the syrup to absorb.

Continue to drizzle until you are left with only about 2- 3 tablespoons of syrup (reserve for later if desired.)

Let the torta sit and rest for about 15 to 20 minutes allowing the rum syrup to saturate the torta fully.

I love to add an extra boost of rum at this point, pour a small amount of rum into a glass and slowly drizzle this over the top of the torta and let sit an extra 5 minutes before serving.

Serve this delicious torta with either vanilla or cioccolata crema pasticerra (recipe below.) or both, if desired.

{cream pasticcera} 

In your mixer bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until ribbons form; add the flour bit by bit and blend well over low heat until all is combined. Add in the grated lemon zest and blend well.

In a medium deep saucepan, heat the milk until hot but NOT boiling. Remove from the heat and drizzle little by little into the moving mixer bowl and all milk is added and blended well.

Scrape the mixture out of the mixer bowl back into the saucepan. Place on gentle medium heat, stirring constantly while the mixture begins to thicken and form. Add additional milk if needed, continue to stir and heat until mixture is thickened and forms a custard-like texture.

Remove from heat and set aside for serving with the finished torta.

Note: For the crema ciocolata; take about half of the finished crema vanilla and add the cocoa powder or chocolate bar pieces while mixture is on medium heat, add additional sugar and milk as needed and heat and stir until well blended.

Serving Note: Serve this torta with your crema (vanilla or ciocolata) of choice and, if desired, add some seasonal berries on the side and drizzle with the reserved rum syrup.cucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_14

cucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_64

cucinadimammina_baba torta con crema pasticcera_51


Note: Photography by Annette Venditti & Carina A. Favale

Buon Appetito!



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