Rum baba, baba au rhum, babba al rum, baba al rhum - the influence of this cake soaked in rum has spread so far that the Poles, French, Turks and Italians all have their own versions. The Neapolitans, in particular, have embraced the baba and made it their own. They even have a phrase, Si nu' babbà , which is used to describe a kind or very skilled person or well-made, objects. The cake is said to have emerged from the royal palace during the reign of King Ferdinand IV of Naples. His wife, Maria Carolina of Austria, was sister of Marie Antoinette (Maria Antonia), and the two were known to be bitter rivals. Or at least Maria Carolina was said to be jealous of Marie Antoinette. After Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI and moved to France, Maria Carolina is said to have sent emissaries there to make sure she didn't miss out on whatever Marie was having. She brought the baba back to Naples, and Italian chefs have since made it their own. But Marie Antoinette's palace was not the origin of the baba. In fact, some say it wasn't invented in France at all. The Polish king Stanislaw Leszczynski is often cited as the inspiration for the pastry. He is said to have enjoyed babka, the sweet Polish bread, but one day was served a rather dry piece. There are two versions of what happened next. One of them was that he threw the plate and bun in a fit of anger. The plate broke a nearby bottle of wine, said to be Malaga or Madeira. The cake soaked up the wine and the result was, to the king's surprise, very tasty. The other version says that he sent the babka back to the kitchen and his pastry chef, Nicolas Stohrer, decided to overcome the dryness by soaking the bread in wine. Stohrer became Leszczynski's daughter's pastry chef when she married Louis XV of France. In Versailles, rum became the fashionable drink and this was what Stohrer and chefs in France became accustomed to using.