In just a few months, when we’re all sweating and swatting mosquitoes big enough to rape chickens and there’s not enough deodorant IN THE WORLD, I might regret saying this, but THANK GOD FOR THE SUNSHINE.
That marathon of gray, gloomy rainy days put me into a serious funk. Not the good Bootsy Collins kind of funk, where you feel like strutting around in star-shaped sunglasses and sparkly thigh-high platform boots. No, the blah funk. The doldrums. The down-in-the-dumpalumps. The kind of funk that lulls you into watching the season premiere of “Ruby.”
So, I’m not just soaking in the sunshine. I’m groping it with both hands. And that means making cake! A big, boozy, rum pound cake topped with homemade pineapple sauce, toasted coconut and pecans, and a heaping helping of rum whipped cream. An orgy of tropical flavors. And rum!
The cake is light and tender, but there’s an intense shot of rum in the batter, as well as the rum soaking syrup you brush onto the top. If you really want to take that rum flavor over the top, double-up on the syrup and brush some onto the bottom of the cake before you flip it out of the pan. Then, grab a toothpick and pierce the top of the cake so the soaking syrup can really get down into each slice instead of resting on the top.
While the cake is cooling, you can toast the coconut and pecans in the oven and make the pineapple sauce. The base of the sauce comes together quickly on the stovetop – just pineapple chunks, orange juice for brightness, cornstarch, a little sugar and the secret ingredient: ginger. The ginger really wakes up the flavor of the sauce and gives you something unexpected. When you combine the thickened sauce with the toasted coconut and pecans, you have a uniquely chunky, chewy, crunchy fruit mixture that would be as delicious on a scoop of vanilla ice cream as it is on this pound cake.
And once you’ve made a cake and some pineapple sauce to go with it, you might as well take it to the bridge and whip up some whipped cream. I flavored it with rum, because I’m a slave to symmetry, but you could use vanilla, coconut extract, maybe a little orange zest. If you’re feeling really decadent, add a spoonful of rum or vanilla whipped cream to the coffee that accompanies your cake. (Or the next morning’s Fruity Cheerios. I’m not judging you.)
Seriously, it’s so good to finally shake off the blahs, and if you’ve been going through a rainy-weather depression, I hope you’re starting to feel like yourself again, too. That little sting you just felt? That was me giving you a virtual booty smack. Now, let’s grab our star-shaped sunglasses and let our freak flags fly.
Rum Runner Pound Cake
Adapted from Warren Brown’s “CakeLove”
You’ll be filling your Bundt pan only three-quarters full, so you’ll probably have leftover batter. If you’d like, you can bake the leftover in cupcake tins or brioche pans for about 18 minutes.
- 2 3/4 cups (14 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons potato starch (If you’re not using potato starch, bump up the flour to 3 cups.)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 ounces (1 cup) sour cream
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
Rum Soaking Syrup:
- 1/4 cup Sugar Syrup (recipe below)
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F if you’re using a dark Bundt pan). Set the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the rest of the dry ingredients, and whisk to blend. Set aside.
- Measure the liquid ingredients into a separate bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In another bowl, measure the eggs and yolks, whisk together, and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
- With the mixer still on low, slowly add the eggs. Stop the mixer, and scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry. (Move swiftly through this step to avoid over-mixing. The step should take about 60 seconds.)
- Stop the mixer, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Spray your Bundt pan liberally with a nonstick spray.
- Fill your Bundt pan about three-quarters full, and level it with a rubber spatula. (You might not use all of the batter.)
- Bake for 50 minutes. When the top of the cake doesn’t jiggle in the center, test for doneness by inserting a skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. (The sheen on top may look wet, but this comes from the fat in the heavy cream.)
- Remove the pan from the oven, and place on a wire rack.
- Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and remove it by inverting the pan onto a flat surface.
- Place a piece of wax or parchment paper under the wire rack. Combine 1/4 cup Sugar Syrup and 1/4 cup rum in a small bowl. Apply the Rum Soaking Syrup with a pastry brush until all of the syrup is absorbed. (If you want more rum flavor in your cake, feel free to make more Rum Soaking Syrup and apply it to the top or bottom of the cake.)
- Store under a cake dome at room temperature or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and water.
- Bring the mixture to a light simmer to dissolve the sugar. (Do not bring it to a rolling boil.)
- Immediately remove the mixture from the heat, and set aside to cool.
- 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans (toasted in a 350 degree F oven for 5 minutes)
- 1/4 cup coconut (toasted in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes and tossed frequently)
- Drain pineapple; reserve 1/2 cup juice.
- Stir together reserved pineapple juice, orange juice, cornstarch, sugar, ginger and orange peel (if using). Stir in pineapple chunks. Cook over medium-high until sauce begins to boil and thickens slightly.
- Stir in pecans and coconut. Serve over ice cream, angel food cake or pound cake.
Rum Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Pour the heavy cream and rum into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip on low speed.
- After about 30 seconds, add the confectioner’s sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until medium-stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.