The babà is so much loved in Naples that it has not only become an authentic icon of the city, but the term has also entered everyday language. “Tu si nu' babbà” (you are a babà) is a Neapolitan expression to say that you are a sweetheart.
With its characteristic mushroom shape, apparently inspired by the dome of St. Sofia’s Church in Constantinople, the babà is a leavened oven-baked sweet soaked in rum.
Despite the fact that everyone associates it with Naples, babà originally came from Central Europe: it would seem that the Polish king, Stanislao Leszczinski, tired of the taste of the kugelhupf, a typical Alsatian sweet that he found too dry, dipped it into a Marsala-type liqueur. Voilà, the forerunner of babà was served up!
According to a legend, the name comes from Ali Baba, the main character of a fairy tale from "The Thousand and One Nights", of which the king was a passionate reader.
Years later, the babà was brought to Naples by chefs serving the aristocratic Neapolitan families. In 1836, it appeared for the first time as a typical Neapolitan sweet in the first Italian cookbook written by Angeletti.
Enjoy this mouth-watering Neapolitan dessert!
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