In a large bowl, stir together 1-1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside. In a small saucepan heat and stir milk, the 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt just until warm (120 degree F to 130 degree F).
Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in the remaining flour. (The batter will be soft and sticky.) Cut butter into small pieces; place atop batter. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour).
Grease twelve 1/2-cup baba molds, twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups, or 8 popover pan cups. Set aside.
Stir butter, raisins, and orange peel into the batter. Divide the batter among molds or cups, filling each 1/2 to 2/3 full. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes or until batter fills molds or cups. (Or, cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.) Makes 8 servings.
Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, place wire racks over waxed paper. Remove babas from molds or cups onto racks. Cool on wire racks.
For the rum syrup, in a heavy small saucepan stir together the 1 1/2 cups water and the 3/4 cup sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to boiling. Boil, uncovered, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in the rum.
Using the tines of a large fork, prick babas all over. Dip babas, top side down, into the rum syrup 2 to 3 times or until moistened. Return to rack. Spoon any remaining syrup over babas.
For glaze, if necessary, snip any large pieces of apricot in the preserves. In a small saucepan combine the preserves and 1 tablespoon water. Heat and stir over low heat until preserves are melted. Brush the glaze onto the babas.
If desired, for cream sauce, in a small mixing bowl stir together whipping cream and sour cream. To serve, spoon cream sauce onto 8 or 12 dessert plates. Place a baba on each plate. Makes 8 to 12 servings