Rum cake in­fused with re­demp­tion

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RAN­DELL

They say the fun is in the try­ing, and when there’s rum in­volved, this rings par­tic­u­larly true.

Last year, I of­fered up a Christ­mas treat from ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador’s past – mo­lasses candy. And con­sid­er­ing the flop­tion (state) it turned out to be – what was sup­posed to be a chewy treat turned out a rock-hard mess – there was a need for re­demp­tion.

Rum cake isn’t a unique dessert to the prov­ince, but it is quite pop­u­lar dur­ing the hol­i­days.

I’ve come to re­al­ize though, most tra­di­tional rum cake recipes for New­found­land and Labrador are done in a fruit cake style. But see­ing how the only good thing about fruit cake is that it makes an ex­cel­lent boat an­chor, there had to be an­other way.

In con­sid­er­ing the op­tions, I im­me­di­ately thought of my Ship Cove friend, Kath­leen Tucker, who passed away ear­lier this year.

The for­mer North­ern Pen colum­nist would of­ten stop into the St. An­thony of­fice, where I was work­ing at the time, with a yel­low cake style rum cake, cook­ies and other good­ies. She al­ways of­fered them with a smile and a warm voice for a friendly chat.

Kath­leen of­ten mar­veled at the cof­fee cup col­lec­tion that lined my desk. She was so fas­ci­nated by this, she had to take a pic­ture of it, and after sev­eral re­quests, Kath­leen got one on the con­di­tion it was never shown pub­licly.

But since I’ve be­gun work­ing from home, I have a much stricter of­fice man­ager, and when a cup ends up on my desk, I’m of­ten shown where the trash bin is to.

But I di­gress. Kath­leen’s rum cake was so amaz­ing it didn’t al­ways make it home.

So, with her in mind, I de­cided to make the yel­low cake style.

After googliz­ing the in­ter­net, there were nu­mer­ous op­tions, and the good peo­ple at kingarthur­ be­came my guid­ing light with their on­line recipe. God bless the in­ter­net.

My bak­ing skills haven’t got­ten any bet­ter, or worse, since last Christ­mas, but cake from scratch has never been an is­sue. How hard could it be?

After all, flour, sugar, bak­ing pow­der, a dash of salt, it’s all stan­dard stuff when it comes to cake. But in­stant pud­ding is some­thing I’ve never heard tell of in a cake. Who puts pud­ding in cake?

Plus, there was no in­stant pud­ding in the pantry.

So off to the store it was, in the mid­dle of a storm and in the mid­dle of the Christ­mas shop­ping mad­ness.

Thirty min­utes later, and slightly frus­trated with the line ups, the in­stant pud­ding was added.

Then, it was back to the good ol’ stan­dards, but­ter, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla.

Un­til, at last, the good part, adding the rum.

While this wasn’t a tra­di­tional New­found­land style cake, there was a need to in­fuse some­thing to give it a pro­vin­cial flair. En­ter Old Sam, that dark rum with a head when mixed with cola.

Old Sam comes from Guyana, South Amer­ica, and ac­cord­ing to its web­site, “The orig­i­nal recipe for Old Sam De­mer­ara Rum stretches back to 1797 when Ed­ward Young & Co. im­ported their rum from Guyana and brought the first bar­rels marked ‘Old Sam’ to Lon­don, Eng­land.”

Be­cause of its con­nec­tion across the pond, it’s easy to tell why it be­came a well-known rum in this prov­ince.

Fur­ther­more, it has been blended and bot­tled in New­found­land since 1999.

And putting my not-so-es­tab­lished bak­ing knowhow to use, it seemed the sweet taste of this rum would pair well with cake.

Plus, I get to en­joy the left­overs.

So, into the bat­ter it goes. A half a cup, and a splash or two ex­tra, for good mea­sure.

With ev­ery­thing mixed to­gether, into to a Bundt pan it goes.

What the heck is a Bundt pan?

I kid, that bit of re­search was done be­fore­hand and one was took out on loan from a friend.

Then the wait­ing game be­gins, 50-60 min­utes, at 325 de­grees, to be pre­cise.

What came out of the oven, a very crisp and de­li­cious look­ing cake, un­til I re­mem­bered, the vanilla was sit­ting next to the oven and not in the cake where it was sup­posed to be.

Ru­ined! Fire it in the garbage, one would as­sume, but the sav­ing grace to it was the sauce.

Now I’ve never been one for sauces, it’s too much ef­fort and at­ten­tion for a wan­der­ing mind.

But the in­gre­di­ents are sim­ple. Wa­ter, but­ter, sugar, salt and an­other half a cup of rum. Bring it to a boil, let it sim­mer to thicken up, then add vanilla. Don’t for­get the vanilla.

It didn’t thick up, but the vanilla was added any­ways. I was in­formed by a baker af­ter­wards that I likely didn’t use enough sugar.

But in the name of sol­dier­ing on, I poke holes in the cake, and added the sauce a lit­tle at a time.

Let­ting it soak in and re­peat­ing un­til the sauce was gone. Then leave the cake to ab­sorb the sauce.

Five hours after adding the first in­gre­di­ents, sur­pris­ingly in one fluid mo­tion, the cake slid out of the pan and onto the serv­ing plat­ter. The bumps in the Bundt a lit­tle burnt, but the ad­di­tion of the sauce had made it moist.

The plan was to add an ic­ing sugar glaze for a lit­tle show­man­ship, how­ever, the taste was per­fect just the way it was. The choice in rum had helped main­tain a moist, sweet tast­ing cake.

And the suc­cess was quickly no­ticed. Slice after slice was freely carved out and carted off by friends, whereas last year’s mo­lasses candy would still be in the con­tainer if I hadn’t thrown them out.

It ap­pears the best part of this cake wasn’t the rum, but the re­demp­tion.

Any­one wish­ing to get in on the rum cake fun them­selves, King Arthur Flour has a won­der­ful recipe on­line. It can be found here https://www.kingarthur­flour. com/recipes/caribbean-rum-cake-recipe.


The Cen­tral Voice re­porter Adam Ran­dell tries his hand at rum cake.

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