I have been extremely lucky to travel (for work) numerous times to the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. You learn very quickly that the most appreciated gift you can bring back is a rum cake. These soft, rum-soaked cakes with a smattering of nuts are divine; to taste one is to forge a lifelong love affair. So you can imagine how pleased I was to come across this recipe which pretty closely matches the wonder of the cakes I used to bring back.
A good rum cake should give you the sweet flavour of rum but not burn your throat with raw alcohol. It should be juicy and sticky but not to the extent of, say, a rum baba. It should also be impossible to eat only one slice!
The secret to the cake is to pour over a glorious rum syrup when the cake is piping hot from the oven. It seeps into the cake and pools at the bottom of the tin (which is the top of the cake when turned out) and you get a sweet juiciness similar to the effect of a golden syrup steamed pudding.
Rum cakes are always made in Bundt-style tins. This pleases me as I have quite a few Bundt tins that I’ve never used. I picked this stunner of a tin and was delighted at how cleanly the cake turned out, showing all the crisp lines of the design. The capacity of the tin was 8 cups and I wouldn’t have wanted to use anything smaller.
The only change I made to the recipe was regarding nuts. A proper rum cake should be made with pecans or walnuts. I used hazelnuts as the CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) doesn’t like with pecans or walnuts. It was just as delicious.
For the cake:
110g unsalted butter, melted
65ml rum (needs to be golden or dark rum)
315g plain flour
270g golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (that’s not a typo – it’s a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120g chopped mixed nuts (I used only hazelnuts but pecans, walnuts, or macadamias would work)
For the rum syrup:
125g unsalted butter
200g golden caster sugar
125ml rum (golden or dark)
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Grease a Bundt tin of 8 cup capacity. I used a cake release product although butter would also be good.
- Beat together the butter, milk, rum and eggs.
- Add the flour, sugar and baking powder and beat until well combined.
- Beat in the vanilla extract and chopped nuts.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took 45 minutes.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Straightaway, make the syrup: place the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Stir in the rum.
- Pour over the hot cake, you may have to do this in stages giving the cake time to absorb the hot syrup.
- Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before turning out onto a serving plate. The cake needs no accompaniment and should be eaten unadorned.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.