Monday, April 2, 2012

Vanilla Rum Cake(s)

I've eaten an ungodly amount of spinach in the last six or so days.  For breakfast mostly (one day it was lunch), I've had a green smoothie.  That means blending up a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves, almond milk or OJ, Greek yogurt, and an assortment of fruits.  The beautiful thing is that it tastes nothing like spinach.  It really just takes on the flavor of the almond milk and the fruit.  But it's not cake.  I can't have all this health going around me and no indulgences.  That's called balance, y'all.  Or at least, that's my interpretation of it.

This is pretty easy.  I only made one cake, but I'll give you the full recipe to save you wonky measurements.  You need: Brown butter, vanilla extract, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, rum, and cream.
Sift your dry ingredients together.
I think sifted flour is the prettiest thing ever.
Take a whisk to the eggs and sugar.  Whisking it will incorporate air into the batter.  Psst, I see a weird face in this picture.  What do you see?
One at a time, we add more of our liquids.  First, vanilla extract.  Whisk it.  Whisk it good.
Cream leaves a pretty swirl.
Rum looks like an explosion.
Stir in the flour (gently) a little at a time.  Three additions should do.
When the flour is just incorporated, get ready to fold in the butter.
Drizzle, drizzle.
Just a few strokes to incorporate the butter.
Finished batter.
Here's where I beg of you to properly butter and flour your loaf pan.  Because I totally didn't.  And I totally paid for it later.  We'll talk about that in a bit.  Let me be a lesson to you.
While the cake is in the oven, make a delightful rum syrup.  Whisk together water and sugar in a small saucepan.  As it heats up, the sugar will dissolve to make a simple syrup.  That's the stage you see here. Bring it to a boil and take it off the heat.  Add the rum.
Then pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl to let it cool.
Oh mercy me.  When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool about 5 minutes in the pan.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake.  If you buttered and floured your pan properly, the cake should pop out.  If you're like me (don't be like me), the cake comes two pieces.  Whoops.  You can see the fissure in the picture, but y'know what? It's really not that big a deal.  Even if I was serving this to other people, it wouldn't make that much of a difference because I'd be slicing it anyway.  Now, if I was giving the cake away, that'd be a different story.  Plus, isn't half the fun eating your mistakes?  At any rate, poke a bunch of holes in your cake with a toothpick while it's still warm and brush the syrup on liberally.
If you can stand it, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for a day.  The rum syrup gets extra time to soak in.  The cake isn't super rummy, although to me, dark rum tastes like vanilla extract.  So it was just extra vanilla-y to me.
This would be a lovely dessert on Easter (um, minus the rum syrup I suppose).  You could pair it with some early spring strawberries and whipped cream.  Or just eat it with a cup of tea.

Vanilla Rum Cakes
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 1/3 c granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tbs vanilla extract
2/3 c heavy cream
2 1/2 tbs dark rum
1 stick + 7 tbs unsalted butter, browned and cooled
Rum syrup (recipe follows)

  • Preheat your oven to 350º.  Butter and flour two 8x4 loaf pans and set atop two stacked baking sheets.  Set aside
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in vanilla, followed by cream and rum.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients in three additions.  When flour mixture is just incorporated, fold in the brown butter.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans.  Bake about 55 minutes, checking around 30 minutes to see if the tops are browning too quickly.  If so, loosely cover with foil and continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  While cakes bake, prepare rum syrup.  Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk until sugar has dissolved into the water.  Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.  Stir in rum, then transfer to a heatproof bowl.
  • Cool cakes in the pan about 5 minutes on a wire rack.  Run a knife along the edges, then invert to free cake from the pan.  (Say a quick prayer) Turn them right side up and poke holes in the cakes with a toothpick.  Brush the rum syrup on the tops of the cakes and let cool.  
Rum Syrup:
1/3 c water
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c dark rum

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