Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rum Bundt Cake

Rum Bundt cake and Caribbean rum cake are not at all the same thing, and today I'm making the former. A light, flavorful Bundt very much different than the dark heavy Caribbean rum cake. Many rum Bundt cakes are made with a boxed cake mix, but this is not. It's made completely from scratch and absolutely moist and delicious. Since the rum is cooked, very little alcohol remains, but it still has a wonderful sweet rum flavor.

Julian's Rum Bundt Cake
Rum cake is a favorite in the Caribbean islands where we own a vacation home. But sadly, most of what you get at the tourist shops isn't very good. When you do get a homemade Caribbean black rum cake, they are actually much more like what we call a fruit cake, and like those we have in the U.S. mainland, they are all descendants of the British holiday puddings. The primary difference between a classic British pudding and a rum cake is of course, the rum.

These cakes are sometimes called black cake, because the color is quite dark. In the Caribbean, making a classic rum or black cake is expensive, as it includes dried fruits not common in the islands, such as raisins and prunes. These are much more expensive than local fruits and so it is for this reason they are usually made only for the Christmas holidays, with plenty of local rum, which is inexpensive. Locals say you should 'start the fruit when the hurricane season ends', which is around October. By start the fruit, they mean soaking the dried fruit in rum. Most families serve it on Christmas day and then just keep it out on the table for guest snacking until it's gone. They sprinkle on more rum if it starts to get dry. In fact, many drink it with a glass of rum. What makes the cake nearly black is the soaking of the dark fruits in rum and the use of brown sugar, molasses and a bittersweet caramel called browning. Unlike the British or American versions, in the Caribbean they grind the soaked fruit to a fine paste, so you never bite into a piece of fruit.

Browned nicely on the outside, golden rum inside.
So I'm afraid I've told you all of this when I'm not making a Caribbean rum cake, but rather my favorite rum Bundt cake, which comes nearly verbatim from King Arthur Flour, my favorite flour company.  It's really quite excellent and always much more popular than the Caribbean version, at least here in the north of the USA.

Bundt Pan Sticking:  Some people tell me they have trouble with their Bundt cakes sticking to the pan and not releasing cleanly. I've never had this experience. I have one old pan and one new top of the line pan. Every cake has released just fine using nothing but food release spray to prepare the pan, along with either with traditional all-purpose flour or ground nut flour (I prefer the latter.) Here are some solutions if you have a problem with pan sticking. First, use a non-stick pan of good quality. Then, make sure the entire pan is sprayed with food release, including the central cone, and do not use butter for this purpose. If you don't have food release, use solid shortening or spray vegetable oil. Butter causes sticking. If you don't have nut flour, use granulated sugar. If you use sugar, be sure to turn the cake out of the pan when it's warm, otherwise it too will stick.  Let most cakes sit out on the counter for 5-10 minutes before turning them out. Run a knife gently along the edge and center cone and even down the sides. If the cake doesn't release when it's turned over, let it sit in this position for another five minutes. If it hasn't dropped onto the plate, the use a gentle side-to-side shaking motion to help release it. If the cake has left in the pan too long and is now cold, reheat it for 5-10 minutes in the oven at 300F degrees.

Rum Bundt Cake


2 cups  all-purpose flour
          (King Arthur Unbleached preferred)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ounce box, Jello-o pudding mix, dry
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup white or aged (golden) rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon butter rum flavor (optional but excellent)
1/4 cup pecan or almond flour, for dusting baking pan

Nut flour coated Bundt pan.

Rum soaking syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white or golden rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly spray a 10 to 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle on the pecan or almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly. Set aside.

2. Place all of the cake ingredients except the rum, vanilla and butter rum flavoring in the bowl of your stand mixer and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the bowl after one minute.

3. Add the rum, vanilla and flavor to the batter and blend for another minute. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread level with a spatula.

4. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes until a long pick inserted comes out clean. (I use a bamboo skewer for this purpose.)

5. Allow the cake to begin cooling in the pan while you make the soaking syrup.

6. In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

7. Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour about 1/4 of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

8. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit out overnight to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake by carefully inserting a thin long knife along the edge of the pan. As this cake cooled in the pan, it does not come out as easily as traditional Bundt cake. If you have trouble with release, follow the instructions above. Invert on to your serving plate.

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