Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bahamian Rum Cake

Last week we celebrated a friend's 30th birthday, and naturally I offered to provide a cake to aid the festivities. We spent a while trying to think of a cake that might go down well - Mr Cake suggested my [not very] healthy cake (I recently made one of these for a gym instructor's 40th - taking cake to the gym was a new level, even for me!) but I wanted to try something different, so we leafed through David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, and stumbled upon this very appealing sounding creation.

I bought Ready for Dessert because I absolutely love Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop for its myriad ice-cream recipes, and figured a book of desserts by the same man couldn't go far wrong. I was a little disappointed when it arrived (I ordered it online) as I usually don't buy recipe books without pictures of at least most recipes, and probably only a quarter of the recipes in this one appear in photos. I'm very visual (that's one of the reasons I like blogs - you often get many more photos with a recipe than you would in print) and like to know what the product will look like. Anyway, the book is great, all the recipes I've tried have been tasty, but I tend to overlook the ones without pictures - this, until last week, was one of those.

On the cake scale, this is probably about as unhealthy as you can get, though surely worth the calories - loads of butter and sugar, with both a syrup and a glaze. Just the way cake should be. ;-) It's pretty easy to put together, though, and packs an impressive punch, so if you're wanting to wow somebody without too much effort this might be just the thing.

The syrup is very simple and is made while the cake is cooking - a few ingredients in a saucepan and just warmed enough for the sugar to dissolve.

When the cake is done you poke a lot of holes in it (Lebovitz suggests around 60 - it needs lots for the syrup to get where it needs to go!) and spoon most of the syrup over it. This makes the cake super moist and infuses a lovely rum flavour (not too strong - I don't go for really boozy recipes; this one seems to strike a nice balance).

My first attempt at this cake was a bit overcooked, as I often underestimate the power of a Bundt tin to keep cooking after the cake is out of the oven, so I had a second crack at it. The first version was still well appreciated by the crowd we fed it to but I don't think it was quite up to scratch. The syrup/gaze combo does help hide a bit of overcooking (actually a simple syrup poured over any cake you've accidentally left in the oven a few minutes too long will do wonders).

A bit too dark! I trimmed some of the worst bits off after taking this photo.
The glaze is just as difficult to make as the syrup - that is, not very! Again, a few ingredients in a saucepan, a bit of simmering, add rum. The glaze and cake should both be cool when you put them together, or the glaze will soak in.

The recipe advises adding the toasted coconut to the glaze, which I did for attempt one, but decided the second time around it might work better with the coconut sitting on the cake and glaze poured over, and I preferred the way it looked the second time.

This is the first attempt:

It looks a bit globby if you ask me! Delicious, but globby.

The second attempt yielded a better shade of cake, though I was pressed for time and poured over the glaze while it was still warm, so it doesn't have the same luscious look. I do prefer the coconut this way, though.

I'm glad I gave it another go - this particular cake/syrup/glaze combo makes for a delicious and decadent dessert (or morning tea, as my workmates will attest) and it's also really good warmed up with a wee bit of ice-cream (when cake starts to age a bit 15 seconds in the microwave can work wonders!).
I'm glad I overcame my fear of picture-free recipes to make it.

Do you prefer your recipes to come with photos, or are you happy with the words only approach for your kitchen escapades?

Bahamian Rum Cake (from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert)Ingredients
3 cups/420g flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾  teaspoon salt
¼  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
225 g butter, at room temperature
2 cups/400g sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
¾  cup/180 ml coconut milk

Rum Syrup
¾ cup coconut milk
6 Tbsp sugar
½ cup dark rum

½ cup coconut threads
60g butter, cut into pieces
6 Tbsp cream
6 Tbsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp rum

Preheat your oven to 160 C.  Spray a bundt pan with baking spray and coat with flour.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.  While beating, slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the creamed butter. Once the eggs are incorporated, stir in one third of the dry ingredients, then about half of the coconut milk. Repeat for the next third of the dry ingredients, remainder of coconut milk, and the remainder of the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  And bake for 50 to 60 minutes – until the cake is just set in the middle.

While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the extra coconut milk and 6 Tbsp sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove the syrup from heat and add the rum and stir to combine.

When the cake is cooked, use a skewer to poke about 60 holes in the cake. Spoon two-thirds of the syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Leave the cake in the tin and allow it to cool completely. When cooled, turn the cake out onto a rack and brush with the remaining syrup. I recommend placing the rack over a plate to catch the drips.

Toast the coconut in a frypan over low heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown - this will only take a couple of minutes.

To make the glaze, combine the butter, cream, salt and brown sugar in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the rum, and let cool completely.

Top the cake with the coconut flakes and spoon the glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides - you can rewarm the glaze slightly if it's too thick.


  1. Please keep up the photos - I don't need them all, but certainly some are good. Of course, the ones I like might be different from the ones others prefer!

  2. Where would I be without syrup to put on a cake! Has saved me many times with overcooked cakes. Love the pattern that your bundt tin makes, I've never seen one like that before.

  3. Bahamian! That's a kind of cake you don't see every day. I love recipe books with lots of photos; even if they're easy recipes, the photos provide good inspiration! By the way, I love that bundt tin - can I ask where you got it?

  4. I like pics. It lets me know what I'm aiming for.

    As an aside, I went to the WOAP Floriditas pastry-making tutorial today, and if you've ever thought about it, I highly recommend it.

    Julie Clark is a wonderful teacher, and I feel so much more confident with the 'dreaded' pastry. I even made my own flaky puff pastry, and can't wait to make something with it. :-)

  5. Daniel, I will! Thanks. :-)

    Laura, I think it's called a Bavaria Bundt - I do love when just putting the batter in a tin makes the cake look super fancy with no effort whatsoever!

    timeforalittlesomething, I'm pretty sure the tin was from Living and Giving, but probably any homewares store that stocks Nordicware could get one in for you (or Google it!). :-)

    Kaz, that pastry class looked fantastic, glad to hear you enjoyed it! Julie is lovely and has amazing culinary experiences tucked under her belt - great stories! :-)


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