The withering humidity of the past week had me dreaming of lounging on a tropical beach somewhere in the Caribbean with a rum-spiked cocktail in my hand. In reality, I found myself puttering about a suburban DC kitchen seeking a quick dessert to feed a hungry crowd, so I channeled that longing for rum and aqua waves lapping on sugar-white beaches into a dreamy boozy bundt cake.
I don’t usually think of myself as a cake person. But over the past few weeks I’ve been possessed with an odd urge to tinker with cake recipes studded with fresh cherries. These efforts have led to a trio of comically serious cake fails. I’m not kidding. The cherry walnut number could have been used as a doorstop (turns out 2 cups of walnuts is a bit much for a loaf cake), and a cherry crumb cake was raw in the middle (No idea why that happened.) It dawned on me that cherries belong in pies and cobblers and crisps, not cakes. (If anyone has a perfect cherry cake recipe, please let me know.)
So this rum cake started as the third entry into my week of cake fiascos - an effort to create cherry rum cake. This one was yet another candidate for a doorstop. I chalked it up to a sub-par recipe and a minor mis-measurement. Cake fails make me grumpy. But I had reached the point that I was determined to prove to myself I was actually capable of baking an scrumptious cake, so I pulled out the butter one last time. My family cleared the area, sensing a fourth fail could get ugly.
This time I was methodical in my recipe mash-up. I pulled a beloved rum cake recipe from King Arthur’s Flour online. Spiked with a hefty dose of rum, this classic seemed a good blueprint. I was was also intrigued by a Tortuga Rum Cake I found in a recent copy of Food and Wine Magazine. This one featured almond flour and a lot less rum. My version takes that boozy King Arthur’s Flour version and swaps out some of the regular flour for almond meal. It includes a bit less sugar, some lovely yogurt and adds a nice pop of nutmeg and allspice. Instead of the rum syrup found in both cakes, I created a brown sugar and rum glaze frosting to drizzle over the cake.
As the aroma of vanilla and spices filled the kitchen, I was optimistic. I pulled it out of the oven, noting it had risen beautifully, and was not still raw in the middle. Excellent. I sliced this one up and put it in front of the assembled dinner crew (party of 7). My youngest son, a perennially picky eater despite my best efforts, the child who had made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of eating the tortellini puttanesca I had thrown together for dinner that night, helped himself to three slices after dinner. He must have had two more later that night, as when I came down in the morning it was nearly gone.
So, I offer you this rum cake win. It’s delicious. I’m sure it would be lovely with fresh cherries or other summer fruit of your liking served on the side.
A few things I’ve been crushing on this week:
We’re on a road trip out west at the moment, so we’ve been binging on podcasts as we drive. Today’s stand-out was Jose Andres interview on the Axe Files. He was named Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation a few weeks ago - well deserved.
I picked up Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue in a tiny little bookstore in Ketchum, Idaho last week. It’s proven to be a powerful read - you might want to add it to your summer reading pile.
Here’s to an amazing week, friends!
Spiced Rum Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 3.4 ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup butter, chilled
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- ½ cup rum
The Brown Sugar Rum Glaze
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons rum
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the flour, almond flour, brown sugar, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, salt, allspice, nutmeg and butter in a mixing bowl, and mix at medium speed until everything is thoroughly combined. The mixture should be sandy.
Mix in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl thoroughly, and beat briefly to recombine any sticky residue.
Stir in the rum and vanilla.
Butter a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan, or spritz it with cooking spray.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread level with a spatula.
Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. When done, a cake tester, long toothpick, or strand of uncooked spaghetti will come out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cake from the oven.
Leave the cake in the pan to cool for a few minutes, while you make the glaze.
Mix all ingredients in medium-sized saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Boil 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.
Remove the cake from the cake pan, and wait until both the cake and the glaze are room temperature.
Place the cake on a wire rack and drizzle the glaze all over the cake.