Mott’s Baba – Mid-Century Recipe Guest Test Sunday

Posted on Jan 12 2014 - 5:00am by Erica

Buzz and I both like babka, which is a traditional Jewish dessert from eastern Europe with cinnamon or chocolate braided throughout a sweet bread-cake. There’s another related dessert called baba, which is essentially the same cake but with fruit or chocolate covering the top instead of mixed into the middle.


And then there’s… this.

2.0 from 1 reviews
Mott's Baba
For each baba:
  • 4 slices thin-sliced white bread
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon rum or rum extract
  • sprinkle of cinnamon sugar
  • ½ cup Mott's Apple Sauce
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  1. For each baba, cut 4 diminishing circles of thin-sliced bread.
  2. Then spread butter mixed with rum or rum flavoring, on each slice.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
  4. Spread generously with Mott's Apple Sauce.
  5. Stack in a pyramid, top with a cherry.


This seems like a nice quick shortcut — instead of baking a cake, we can just buy sliced bread, cover it with buttered rum and sugar and applesauce, and call it cake. Why, this might just be the best thing since sliced bread!


I started off cutting circles of bread. The loaf we’d bought was more rectangular than square, so I needed to cut semi-circles from some slices to make up the larger slices.


“Butter mixed with rum” isn’t exactly a straightforward instruction. I softened two tablespoons of butter, added a tablespoon of rum, and tried creaming it. That didn’t hold together very well (fats and liquids don’t play nice), so I threw in a tablespoon of sugar and whipped it on high speed…. which sort of worked better.


The rum eventually leaked out, but it was cohesive enough that I could spread it on bread. After that, final assembly was very easy.


Buzz’s tasting costume for this evening is a kerchief, reminiscent of a Russian grandmother… or baba.

tasting-hmm tasting-meh

Verdict: Good, but could be better.

Tasting notes:

Between the butter, rum, and applesauce, the bread became moist enough that it really did remind us of cake. The applesauce was unfortunately bland in contrast, though, and the uneven rum butter meant that some bites were very rummy and others were strangely buttery. Use plenty of sugar, and go light on the cinnamon.

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Erica was inspired to learn to cook by a complete lack of home economics classes in high school, and a love of old books. When using antique cookbooks to teach herself some skills, she realized a lot of the recipes were pretty strange by modern standards. All that fun testing just begged to be shared with the world. Regular recipe testing can be found here on Mid-Century Menu, on Erica's Retro Recipe Attempts blog, and also I Ate The 80's.

11 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. heartfruit January 12, 2014 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Strikes me you might be better off mixing the rum with the apple sauce.

  2. Dan January 12, 2014 at 9:32 am - Reply

    In “Babette’s Feast” Babette serves Baba au Rhum with glace’ fruits as the dessert course of the dinner, though not, of course, with white bread and apple sauce. As for the butter and rum mixture, butter and liquid definitely do not mix (did anyone at these companies ever test the recipes before printing them in their advertising?). I’d make a brandy butter instead (butter, confectioners sugar, and brandy–substitute rum in this case–creamed together). Pound cake might also be good instead of the white bread. With a high quality apple sauce, or better yet homemade apple sauce, this could be a really delicious creation. Admittedly, however, it might not be very mid-century after all those changes.

    • Erica Retrochef January 12, 2014 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      The pound cake might be almost too sweet and/or rich, but I absolutely agree with the other suggestions. It’s great when these weird old ideas provide modern inspiration…

    • Tipsykit January 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      I bet using powdered sugar in the butter/rum would help hold it together better because of the cornstarch in the powdered sugar. And apple butter would probably be tastier than applesauce. More complex in flavor, anyway.

  3. Yinzerella January 12, 2014 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I want to hang out with Buzz.

    • Erica Retrochef January 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      Whenever you visit Columbia, SC let us know, we’ll have a guaranteed insane evening of food…

  4. dkzody January 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Love how Buzz dressed for the “occasion.” This looks to be one of those recipes that would have to be tried to be believed. Buzz deserves a really good dessert after that one.

    • Erica Retrochef January 12, 2014 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      I think he has almost as much fun thinking of themed clothing as he does tasting the food. Possibly more, in some cases…

  5. Sara January 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    Your blog has had me cracking up, you are a brave woman to attempt these insanely weird recipes. I lost it when I saw Buzz’s ‘tasting bonnet’ lol. Will be a regular follower, keep up the laughs XD

  6. Lisa B. January 12, 2014 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    _I_ want to hang out with DAN. That sounds yummy, Dan. Would drizzled chocolate work with the apple, do you think? 😀

  7. Dave F. January 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    I’m wondering if you could just let the butter soften to room temperature, then incorporate the rum, kind of mixing and mashing it in, until you have something smooth and well-incorporated.

    I’ve made honey butter that way, and, admittedly, honey has a different texture than rum, but I’m thinking maybe that would work.

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