Chefs' Recipes

Jaci Koludrovic's limoncello baba with vanilla cream

These boozy cakes are a punchy end to a meal - or a fun way to kickstart an afternoon party. The choice is yours.

By Jaclyn Koludrovic
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking plus proving, infusing, soaking
  • Serves 8
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"Baba au rhum, a Neapolitan classic, is possibly my favourite dessert," says Jaclyn Koludrovic. "Booze-soaked brioche sponge served with vanilla cream – what's not to love? This is soaked in herbaceous limoncello syrup – serve it warm with segments of sharp citrus."


  • Olive oil spray, for greasing
  • Segments from 4 citrus fruits, such as pomelo, blood orange, orange and grapefruit
Babà batter
  • 210 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 30 gm caster sugar
  • 7 gm (about 1 sachet) dried yeast
  • 65 ml lukewarm milk
  • 35 ml lukewarm pouring cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 65 gm diced butter, softened
Limoncello syrup
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) lemon verbena (fresh or dried; see note), lightly crushed
  • 30 gm caster sugar
  • 700 ml limoncello
  • 200 ml dry vermouth
  • Thinly peeled rind and juice of 2 oranges
  • Peeled rind of 2 lemons
Vanilla cream
  • 200 ml pouring cream
  • 150 ml thickened cream
  • 10 gm pure icing sugar, sifted
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean


  • 1
    For batter, mix flour, sugar and ½ tsp salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook to combine. Place yeast and 1 tbsp flour mixture in a bowl, add warm milk and cream, and whisk to dissolve. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs and yeast mixture and knead until dough is smooth and pulling away from sides of bowl (5 minutes). Add butter a piece at a time, kneading until incorporated. Cover batter with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place until doubled in size (30-45 minutes).
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease and flour 8 mini metal 1-cup bundt tins or dariole moulds and place on a baking tray. Knock back dough, divide among moulds and rest in a warm place until batter rises above the top of moulds (30-40 minutes). Cover moulds with baking paper, place a heavy baking tray on top and weight with baking weights, rice or dried beans to keep tops flat. Bake for 6 minutes, then reduce oven to 160°C, remove tray and bake until golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove babàs from oven and cool in moulds.
  • 3
    For limoncello syrup, place lemon verbena in a heatproof bowl. Bring remaining ingredients to the boil in a saucepan with 100ml water. Pour onto lemon verbena and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
  • 4
    For vanilla cream, whisk ingredients to soft peaks and refrigerate until needed.
  • 5
    Unmould babà, place in a large bowl and pour warm (not hot) syrup over (if syrup is too hot the babàs will break down). Soak for 8-12 minutes, then spoon syrup over the top occasionally until babàs are completely soaked through. Serve warm or cool topped with vanilla cream, citrus segments and with remaining syrup.


Lemon verbena is available from select nurseries and from online suppliers such as Babàs can be made in advance and stored, unsoaked, in an airtight container for three days or frozen for up to three months. Soak on the day of serving.