When I first saw this recipe in Dorie’s book, I immediately thought it sounded like the sort of thing my mother-in-law would love. This past weekend I had my med school semi-formal, and Ben’s parents came up to babysit Andrew since we would be out all night long. I thought the best way to repay them would be to make them a fabulous dinner (and breakfast the next morning). So, I made them a pot roast, roasted broccoli, and Parmesan ciabatta on the side. And for dessert, the most important meal of the day, I made these cakes!
The original recipe is for two regular loaf pans, but that sounded kind of boring. When I first flipped through the book I envisioned these as mini-bundt cakes and I was determined to make them so. Mini-bundt pans were one of the kitchen-related Christmas gifts I received, so I decided to break them in with this recipe. It worked perfectly! I halved the batter and made four mini cakes. There was definitely enough batter for five cakes, but I only had four pans and I over filled them a bit anyway – oh well. These were soooo good. They have a soft, dense crumb and the rum syrup keeps them super moist. The rum flavor was just right, definitely noticeable but not overdone. And, I love any dessert with vanilla bean flecks so that was an added bonus for me :) Dorie has a few variations in her book that sound fantastic as well. I am definitely going to try the lemon and orange versions at some point. Yum!
Recipe Rewind: tried and true favorites I’ve made recently
Black Bean and Salsa Soup
Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes
For the cakes:
2-3 tbsp. melted butter, for brushing the pans
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 plump, moist vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 2 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. dark rum
7 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the syrup:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush four or five mini-bundt pans with melted butter. Flour the pans, tapping out the excess. Place the mini-bundt pans on a baking sheet, open side up.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Place the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the bowl. Working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of vanilla. (If you are using vanilla extract, add it later, after you’ve added the eggs.) Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla extract, if using. Then whisk in the heavy cream, followed by the rum. Continuing with the whisk, gently mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions. The batter will be smooth and thick. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean. While the cakes are baking, prepare the rum syrup. Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Pour the syrup into a liquid measuring cup and let cool.
When the cakes are done baking, let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Gently turn out onto a wire rack. Place a plate or baking sheet below the wire rack to catch excess syrup. Poke holes all over the cakes using a long, thin skewer. Pour the syrup all over the cakes (you will not need to use it all). Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.
Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Source: adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan