Greatest recipes ever: Tom Aikens’s poached prunes with rum babas

‘Rum babas have long had an aura of mystery that has made me shy away from baking them-until now. I’m a complete sucker for prunes, particularly at this time of year when other fruits are so thin on the ground, and especially when steeped in vanilla and cognac, as in this brilliant little recipe. Of course, you can pair the babas with poached rhubarb, grilled plums, summer berries, blood oranges or anything else that takes your fancy. Right now, I’ll be trying them with the prunes, left to macerate in booze overnight to provide a sauce. Wow!’

Thomasina Miers

Poached prunes with rum baba

Extract from Tom Aikens’s Easy
Published by Ebury Press

You need to start this recipe a day before you want to serve it by making the poached prunes. The quantity is more than you’ll need to serve with the babas, but the prunes are delicious by themselves or with other desserts. You need six dariole moulds for the babas.


300g soft brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 vanilla pods, split
200ml cognac
200ml lemon juice
500g pitted prunes

Rum babas

300g flour, plus extra for dusting
1 x 15g sachet of dried yeast
75ml warm milk
25g sugar
6 eggs, beaten
75g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
1tsp salt


Put the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla pods, cognac and lemon juice in a saucepan with 200ml of water and bring to a simmer. Add the prunes and simmer for 30 minutes. Leave the prunes in the liquor for a day while the flavour develops.

Butter the dariole moulds and sprinkle the insides with flour. Sift the 300g of flour into a bowl and cream the yeast with the warm milk and a few pinches of sugar. Add the yeast mix to
the flour and beat lightly until smooth. Cover the mixture with a damp cloth and leave to ferment for 15-20 minutes in a warm place. Add the beaten eggs to the dough and mix well, then add the melted butter and continue to mix until everything is incorporated. Cover and leave in a warm place for a further 20 minutes to rise.

Preheat the oven to 230˚C/gas mark 8. Add the remaining sugar and the salt to the dough, stir well and divide the mixture between the moulds. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Turn the cooked babas out onto a wire rack and leave for 10 minutes. Pour the prune poaching liquor into a wide bowl, setting the prunes aside, and add the babas. Leave them to soak in the prune liquor for a minute or two, then remove and place on a serving dish. Serve with the poached prunes.