CHOCOLATE RUM BUNDT CAKE
In the mood to bake again, I rummage through my cupboard searching for the bottle of rum. Chocolate was luring me once again, and she was in the mood for a tipple. Grand Marnier and a luxurious hint of orange? Amaretto, surely a favorite, and the nutty, earthy depth that perfectly complements the bittersweetness of the chocolate? Limoncello would certainly be an intriguing companion, boosting my favorite flavor with an intoxicating zing of citrus. Yet someone had mentioned rum and although it is far from my favorite quaff, rarely indulging in anything stronger than a glass of wine, I had come to love the warmth it breathes into a cake, the sexy bite it offers. Rum imparts a sensuality, enlivens the mundane, turns the bland into something funky and intriguing.
So rattling around in my pantry, pushing aside the bottles of olive oil and the jars of soy sauce, I happen upon what I am after, wrap my fingers around the cool, smooth decanter and pull it towards me, clutching it to my chest as a treasure. I hold it up to the light and peer through the thick sepia glass hoping to catch a glimpse of the smooth, silky liquid within. And much to my horror I descry a mere inch of liquid resting placidly on the bottom, and I am shocked! The kitchen elves have been at it again! I rush to JP and hold the bottle up for him to see hoping that he’ll share in my surprise and consternation. He shakes his head in dismay and utters our son’s name. I turn to Clem accusingly and whisper my regret, too angry and disappointed to allow for a more normal tone of conversation. Is this what he and his friends are up to when we are out of town? But he defends himself valiantly, stating with assurance that he neither likes rum, nor drinks when we are from home. His tone, free from even a hint of guilt, convinces me of his innocence in the mystery of the purloined rum and I pull back. And then a thought strikes me: have I used all of the rum myself?
Rum is indeed redolent with history, intertwining delicately with the story of Nantes, imposing herself on our shores and insinuating her presence in the annals of the city. It would be difficult to find a local dessert not adorned with the flavor of this exotic, heady substance (if not drunk on Muscadet) and I have made many: the rich, nutty, boozy gâteau nantais, the delicate brioche-like fouace, our own bottereaux donuts for Carnival. So with all of the intoxicated baked goods I have created these last several months, it seems to make sense somehow that the level of rum in the bottle of Negrita has dwindled to an insignificant, piddling few tablespoons. But surely there is enough left to add some pizzazz to my chocolate cake, right?
The boys – Clem and the Young Dudes – are off living near the ocean while on their internship and only back in Nantes on the odd weekend, so timing is everything. It is fine baking with fruit, nectarines, apricots, plums or cherries nestled into puff pastry or tucked into the barest hint of sweet dough, but chocolate desserts, rich and filling are best left out of temptation's way while the husband and I try and watch our diet. Our days are punctuated by salads, sweetened with fresh fruit and washed down with water and only the occasional glass of white or red. There is no place in our summer ritual for chocolate treats. Yet as the boys would indeed be back for the weekend I had the perfect excuse to make the cake of which I was dreaming. The next few days promised to be hectic indeed, what with JP working on my blog and assigning me missions to complete – and one hard slave driver he is – my beginning preparations for my IFBC presentation, and writing blog posts and much overdue Huffington Post articles, yet I did not want to miss this opportunity to fit in a baking project. I had mouths to feed and young, slim, hungry boys to please!
The house is unusually calm and peaceful with the boys away. The two of us rattle around the big apartment, working hard in our respective offices at our respective computers, typing, writing, and organizing our various projects. Like lovers in some intricate dance, we weave in and out, coming together to meet in the livingroom or kitchen then separating again, flowing gracefully back and forth as in some old country dance. It reminds me of simpler days before the arrival of the boys, in that tiny 3-room cottage in the outskirts of Paris. Just he and I, coming together from bedroom and living space to meet in the kitchen, window thrown open to welcome the breeze. We've come full circle, the babies now men and grown and once again we find ourselves alone. We still meet up in the kitchen to cook, eat, laugh to return to our respective rooms and back to work after our brief but joyful meeting. Yet baking is my domain and he sees no reason to intrude. I love the time spent creating sweet treats all alone and look forward excitedly to sharing it with the boys. JP calls to me from the other side of the house and I yell back "Not now, I'm baking!" and I am left in peace. For now.
Unless, of course, I find an empty bottle, tin, box or shelf and I run screeching through the house in hysterics, looking for the guilty party. Maybe I need to start drinking the rum.
And we all thoroughly enjoyed this Chocolate Rum Bundt Cake. Just a slice or two. And the rest was wrapped up and sent back to the house on the ocean with the boys. Out of harm and temptation's way.
Each trip I make back to my childhood home in Florida, I riffle through and explore cabinets and closets and hidden corners, hoping to stumble upon some wonderful treasure long forgotten. On one of these trips I discovered several old promotional pamphlets chock full of recipes. One such was the 1982 Hershey's Chocolate and Cocoa Cookbook and how could I possibly resist this goldmine of chocolate treats? A chocolate cake was on my to-do list and th refrigerator was overflowing with thick, tangy buttermilk. The recipe for Chocolate Rum Bundt Cake began as Hershey's 5-Way Chocolate Cake and ended up tweaked, altered, spiked and presented in the form of one small loaf cake and one medium-sized Bundt. I drizzled a sharp, dramatic Chocolate Rum Glaze atop the Bundt to give it extra punch and sophistication. The amount of butter and buttermilk belies the delicate crumb and light, fluffy texture. Perfect, moist and chocolaty through and through, it is truly a beautiful cake, neither dense or gooey. The rum, which can easily be replaced with Grand Marnier or Cointreau, Amaretto or Limoncello, is a stellar complement to the chocolate.
CHOCOLATE RUM BUNDT CAKE
The recipe given is my altered version
According to the Cookbook, this recipe works:
three 8-inch round pans baked for 30 to 35 minutes
one 10-inch tube or Bundt pan, baked for 55 to 65 minutes
two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans, baked for 50 to 60 minutes
one 13 x 9 x 2-inch cake pan, baked for 55 to 60 minutes
3 ½ dozen 2 1/2 –inch cupcakes, baked for 20 to 25 minutes at 375°F (190°C)
BUT baking times may differ depending on your oven so watch carefully. The cake is done when puffed and set in the center.
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ¼ cups (450 g) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup (70 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ cups (360 g) flour
1 ½ tsps baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups (500 ml) buttermilk
2 Tbs rum or liqueur of choice
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and generously grease the selected pan(s).
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.
Combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add the rum to the buttermilk. Beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in 3 additions alternating with the spiked buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry. Beat just until well blended, smooth and creamy.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, filling up about ¾ way, allowing room for the cake to rise. Bake until set in the center and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow to cool on a rack in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
Drizzle with your favorite chocolate glaze or royal icing (replacing the water with rum) or chocolate ganache (stirring in a tablespoon or two of rum to the ganache) or simply dust with powdered sugar.