Amaretto Baba Cake – A yeasted cake with dried cherries that is soaked in amaretto syrup
The holidays call for incredible desserts fit for sharing with family and friends. Well, look no further, people! This Amaretto Baba Cake will blow them away! It’s soaked with amaretto liquor, which makes it just the treat you need to finish the night off.
This cake is a variation of baba au rhum, which is made with dried currents (mine has dried cherries) and soaked in a rum syrup (mine is soaked in an amaretto syrup). I decided to use a liquor instead of rum because the rum was too much for me.
I wanted the flavor but not so much of the alcohol so I switched to my favorite liquor of all time – amaretto. I am obsessed with the almond flavor in this liquor. The smell is so intoxicating. Because dried currents are hard to find (and because cherries pair so well with amaretto), I switched the dried fruit in this baba to dried cherries.
Before we get too far into the recipe, let’s take a look at this gorgeous Amaretto Babe Cake, shall we?
Making this yeasted cake
The key thing to note about this cake is that it is leavened with yeast instead of baking powder. The air pockets created by the yeast will help the cake soak up the amaretto in the final step.
The process of making the cake is very similar to bread dough, except the dough is very wet. You will not be able to knead it by hand so make sure you have a stand mixer for this recipe.
The dough is kept in the bowl to complete the first rise, which is about a hour.
What pan to use?
Baba cakes can be made into small little cakes or into one large one, which is what I do in this recipe. In order to get the right height and texture in the cake, I use a taller bundt pan, like this one.
Once the dough has risen once, amaretto-soaked dried cherries are folded into the dough. They are added after the first rise so it doesn’t retard the yeast. The dough is then added to the bundt pan and left to rise once more for another hour.
Soaking the cake
After rising, the cake is baked until dark golden brown. Then, it’s soaked in an amaretto syrup made from water, sugar, and amaretto liquor. The syrup needs to be added slowly to get the cake to soak it all up.
After the cake is soaked, it’s brush with an apricot glaze to give it a permanent shine.
Tips & Tricks
- This cake is meant to be boozy. If you want an alcohol-free version, substitute with cherry or apple juice.
- I’ve made this cake numerous times and it’s best with a taller bundt pan, like this one. It helps the cake get the right texture.
- In order for the cake to soak up the syrup, it needs to be added slowly. Don’t rush this step.
- I know it will feel like all the syrup will make the cake soggy but it won’t – it will get moist but won’t fall apart.
Amaretto Baba Cake
For the cake:
- ⅓ cup chopped dried cherries
- 1 tablespoon amaretto liquor
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter divided, softened
- ½ cup milk scalded and slightly cooled
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup apricot preserves
For the amaretto syrup:
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅔ cup amaretto liquor
- Add chopped dried cherries and 1 tablespoon of amaretto to a small bowl, ensuring that the cherries are covered in amaretto. Set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush all sides and crevices of a 10-quart bundt pan. I used a kugelhopf pan for the fun shape and to help give it height.
- Add scalded milk to bowl of a stand mixer. If it's still hot, let it cool so it's just warm. At that point, add package of active dry yeast and sugar. Stir together and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add softened butter, flour, and salt. Using a paddle attachment, mix until dough forms. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Dough will be very wet. Scrape down the side of the bowl and cover bowl with a damp towel. Let dough rise for 1 hour.
- Once dough has risen, drain cherries and add to dough. Fold into dough with a spatula. Spoon into greased pan and smooth the top. Cover with damp towel and set aside to rise again for 1 hour or until doubled in size. It will not fill the mold to the top.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the amaretto syrup by placing water, amaretto liquor, and sugar in a small saucepan. Pace over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Bake risen cake in oven for 30 minutes or until top is deep golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in cake mold for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place in a deep baking dish or cake pan. Pour 1/4 cup of syrup over the top of the baba, very slowly. The leftover syrup will collect at the bottom and the baba will soak it up through the bottom. Let sit for 1 minute and repeat until all the syrup is gone. If any excess syrup remains in the bottom of the pan, spoon it over the top of the baba.
- Finish the baba by glazing with apricot preserves. Heat preserves and 1 tablespoon of water in a microwave-safe cup for 30 seconds. Push through sieve to remove chunks of fruit. Brush preserves over the baba cake and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.