March was a dizzying month. Our March calendar was filled with visits from friends passing through the area, having fun at Dayton’s Bike Week with friends, celebrating a friends birthday, traveling to Virginia to visit with my daughters and celebrating our granddaughter’s 19th birthday, celebrating Easter with our lovely neighbors, pub crawling with friends and finally trying my hand at making a rum cake from scratch.
Like so many, we keep up with our friends on Facebook, etc. but that can never replace breaking bread with a friend as you laugh and reminisce about good times gone by and good times to come.
March also found me traveling to Kristine’s home in Virginia for our annual NCAA March Madness get together. Kristine and I took a break from our crazy weekend to meet my daughter Jennifer and granddaughter Madalyn at the T.H.A.I Shirlington restaurant to celebrate Madalyn’s 19th birthday. Seeing the girls made my weekend as I was nursing my wounds after the second round had wreaked havoc on on my brackets. I actually had North Carolina in the finals, but alas, they were not destined to go all the way. Oh well, there is always next year.
Two days after returning from Virginia our friends Jim and Vilma arrived for a planned visit. To our surprise and pleasure our friend Geri learned that they would be here and decided to pack a bag and drive down from South Carolina for what turned out to be a wonderful visit filled with catching-up, funny stories, a great deal of laughter and Geri’s beyond delicious rum cake. What a treat!
As Geri was saying her goodbyes the next morning I asked if she would share the recipe but she resisted. A few days later I received a wonderful thank you note for our hospitality from Geri. In her note she wrote, “Now Mary, you really did lay a guilt trip on me re: the recipe; but unfortunately I am true to my word—sooooo I have come up with a compromise”. The compromise was another tantalizing recipe that I will prepare sometime in the future. I was disappointed but wrote back and expressed my admiration for her ability to guard, what is obviously, a treasured family recipe.
Once the calendar pages turned to April, I decided that I would do some research and find a rum cake recipe on-line and try my hand at making one myself. I found quite a few, many of which started with a boxed cake mix but the one that caught my attention was a recipe called Rum Cake (From Scratch) on a blog site called Gimme Some Oven.
I found this recipe to be fairly easy to make and appreciated the helpful hints that were included about not over-baking, over-mixing and a substitution in the event you did not have cake flour on hand. I had all ingredients on hand except the buttermilk; a quick trip to the grocery store took care of that. I had several flavors of rum on hand and decided to use the Ron Virgin dark rum.
Rum Cake (From Scratch)
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided (plus extra for sugar-ing the pan)
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ cup rum (not spiced)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Butter-Rum Sauce ingredients:
½ cup butter
¼ cup water
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup rum
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°.
Grease a bundt pan liberally with cooking spray. Then add a few tablespoons of granulated sugar to the inside of the pan, and gently tap and turn it around until every square inch of the inside of the pan is coated in sugar. (Be especially sure that the inner core of the bundt pan is coated in sugar so that the cake does not stick.) Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour (*or see substitute below), baking powder, salt, baking soda, and 1 ½ cups sugar until combined. In a different medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, rum, oil, vanilla, and yolks until combined. Set aside.
In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30-45 seconds. With whisk still running, add in the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, about 60-90 more seconds. Transfer the whipped egg whites to a separate bowl and set aside.
Add the flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment again, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix on medium-low speed until it is just combined, about 15 seconds. (Don’t overmix!) Stop the mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Fold about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into batter until just combined, then add the remaining whites and gently fold in until no streaks remain.
Pour the batter evenly into the sugared bundt pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. (Don’t overbake!) Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 15 minutes. (While the cake cools – or even better, while it’s in the oven – make the butter-rum sauce. Instructions below.)
Once the cake is slightly cool, use a toothpick or skewer to poke lots of holes all over the surface of the cake (while it is still in the pan.) Pour about half of the butter-rum sauce over the surface of the cake. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is absorbed. Then carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter or pedestal, and drizzle the remaining sauce evenly on top of the cake.
Serve immediately, or cover until ready to serve.
How to make the Butter-Rum Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, butter and water until combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and continue to boil for 5 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and gradually stir in rum (carefully, as the rum will make the sauce boil up again).
*If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can instead mix together 2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour + 5 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Then (very important!) sift those together before adding to the cake.
As soon as the cake was cool I sent slices to neighbors Bob and Sandy. A few days later Sandy returned my plate with slices of pound cake and fresh strawberries and thanked me exclaiming, “The rum cake was delicious!!”
I agree, the cake was delicious and I will make it again but I have to say that Geri’s is, in my opinion, the best rum cake I have ever tasted.
Well, I guess that says it all.