Regardless of this blog’s title, I’ve never been a pirate – nor have I been a huge fan of rum. Well… wait a minute: I say that, but I’ve been known to toss back a few amazing mojitos and other alcoholic treats with a dash or two – or three, or four – of rum in the mix, so I can’t really say I am violently opposed to rum as much as, well, cashews or goat cheese. I think my distaste stems from consumption of almost far too many rum-and-Cokes during my college years through my late 20s; a concoction I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole now, considering I swore off of Coke years ago. Maybe it was too much of a ‘good’ thing… who knows?
This week’s recipe from Baked promises a triple threat of rum: Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake. I was reassured by several of my fellow bakers that this was NOT a recipe to sit out by a long shot. Truly – when Matt Lewis himself (I’m assuming it’s Matt) assured me via Baked’s Facebook page that I had to try this one, it goes without saying – I gotta try it! Despite the fact that rum permeates not only the cake, but also its soaking syrup and glaze, the unique spin with the touch of black pepper had my curiosity stoked enough to set my rum prejudice aside and give it a go.
The recipe is similar to a straightforward Bundt cake recipe, but with three components, each of which is touched by rum: the cake, a soaking syrup, and a glaze for drizzling over the top of the glaze. I like the combination of both granulated and dark brown sugars in the cake batter, which gives the cake a warm tint and boost of almost molasses flavor. In addition to the rum accent, 2 teaspoons of freshly-ground black pepper are sifted into the dry ingredients. I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged out when I read that I was to add a cup of buttermilk and 3/4 cup of dark rum to the batter with the dry ingredients, but I forged ahead. Don’t be too alarmed at this step if your cake batter looks especially thin – rest assured, it will bake up beautifully.
I never turn down the opportunity to make a Bundt cake in my beautiful Heritage design pan, and I’m always amazed at how perfectly it pops out of the pan (I seriously always feel that it will stick in all those sharp crevices – it never does)! Unfortunately, once I put the cake back into the pan as the recipe instructed, glazed the bottom, and let it sit to soak in the rum syrup, some of the syrup apparently went all the way to the bottom and ‘glued’ the cake in. As a result, a couple of the nice peaks formed by the pan were torn and stuck when I released the cake again. Luckily, this cake gets a nice, silky buttered rum glaze drizzled over the top to disguise these blemishes. Once I was done, I surmised that a Heritage pan design definitely does not glaze as prettily as a standard Bundt; it’s a bit slapdash and messy. A Heritage Bundt is truly one that is best dusted with powdered sugar and left at that, as the design is so striking. Oh well… I suppose I will just rely on those sage words uttered once by my grandfather: “Don’t worry – it’s not how it looks, it’s how it tastes that matters!”
And my, how it tastes. Every bite is laden richly with rum, which surprisingly did not bother me, but for those of you not big on boozy desserts, it may be a little much. I almost felt like I could get drunk on one piece of cake – but it’s wonderfully delicious. The extra good news is that this is easily one of those cakes that improves upon sitting for a few days, as the rum develops a stronger taste throughout the cake. The black pepper adds an interesting note of heat. It wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it would be, but I’m not sure I would add more; it seems to be ‘just right’. The cake crumb is dense, but springy and moist, thanks to the buttermilk. The soaking of the cake with the rum syrup on the bottom keeps the bottom from being too dry and adds a terrific extra ‘shot’ of booziness, and the buttered rum glaze is an out-of-this world topping that provides a great textural contrast to the cake. (By the way, I used Myer’s Jamaican Dark Rum for all of the rum in the recipe; the glaze suggests using spiced rum, but I wasn’t going to run out and buy some just for 3 tablespoons.) I will definitely be making this cake again; it’s probably one of my favorites out of the new book.
If anything is going to turn me more on to rum, it would be this cake (well, and maybe an awesome mojito at Cubanitas in downtown Milwaukee – very recommended). It’s easy enough to put together for a family gathering and, as Baked’s intro to the recipe suggests, it’s a terrific treat at the holidays. Thankfully, we had friends moving in on our street this week to whom I was able to pawn off a large chunk of it – otherwise, yours truly would have devoured it entirely. Dangerously, almost drunkenly good. Your link to this fabulous recipe is provided here:
Please check out/follow the blogs of my fellow Baked Sunday Mornings bloggers to see how they enjoyed (or maybe didn’t enjoy) this cake, as well. Have a wonderful week, and see you in a couple more weeks… next week we’re making homemade hazelnut spread (similar to Nutella), which I am going to skip (yuck!). See you on the flip side and Happy Baking! Yes, that is an instruction to go make this cake… NOW!