It's Holiday Treat Day at The Lawyer's office today. He always gets requests from his co-workers to bring rum cake, one of his signature recipes. He also gets requests from relatives and friends for rum cake at this time of the year, which tells you just how good it is. We found this recipe many years ago, and I remember that it was posted by flight attendant who collected plates from everywhere she traveled to use in giving rum cakes as gifts at holiday time. The reason I remember the story is that her final warning was to bake only one cake at a time in the oven or you risk an explosion due to the alcohol. It sounded impressive but I was doubtful that it would ever actually happen until a certain Gourmet Club incident involving peaches and brandy that produced a pretty healthy ka-bang. Luckily the oven survived (although it did blow the door open) and it makes for a great story.
Anyway, back to rum cake. Think about this for your office party, book club get-together, Christmas Eve dinner, or holiday open house where you've been requested to bring something. It will make you famous.
It's really easy but you do need a 12 cup tube pan, the simpler the better since the pecans would hide an intricate design anyway. Did you know that Bundt cakes have become trendy again? I attended a cooking demonstration at our state fair last summer that was all about Bundt cakes. (Yes it was the state fair but the demo was given by professional bakers.) And be sure to use dark rum rather than light rum - that's what gives it the distinctive flavor.
Glazing the cake is the most interesting part of the process, since it takes place in stages to allow the cake to absorb the glaze gradually. Don't dump all of the glaze on right away or most of it will just run off. Put a light layer on and allow it to absorb, then apply more layers over time until all the glaze is used up.
Rum CakeMakes 1 large cake
1 cup chopped toasted pecans1 (18.5 oz) package yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines recommended)
1 (3.4 oz) package vanilla or French vanilla instant pudding
½ cup cold water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup dark rum, divided
Glaze:½ cup butter
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325d. Grease and flour a 12 cup tube pan. Sprinkle pecans over the bottom of the pan and set aside.
To make the cake, in a large mixing bowl combine cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, the ½ cup cold water, oil, and ½ cup rum. Beat at medium speed 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl after 1 ½ minutes.
Pour batter over pecans in pan. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove cake from the oven and let cool in the pan 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the ¼ cup water and sugar; bring to boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in remaining ½ cup rum.
Invert the cake onto serving plate. Poke all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick, being careful not to dislodge the pecans. Spoon hot glaze over the pecans and use a pastry brush to apply the glaze evenly to the rest of the cake. Allow cake to absorb the glaze for 5 minutes. Repeat spooning and brushing glaze and letting cake absorb the glaze until all the glaze has been brushed onto the cake; this takes about 40 minutes.
Wipe the edges of the serving plate before serving.