Let me begin by saying that I hate this cake.
I hate, hate, hate it.
I know, I know. Why all the hostility? How is it possible to hate it so much?
You think that only because you didn’t make it. Allow me to amend my statement: eating this cake is not terrible. Making it was the hugest pain in the ass I’ve experienced in the kitchen since . . . I’m not sure when. At least since moving to Texas.
I don’t mind a little hard work in the kitchen. I’ve made some pretty fussy things recently. But this cake? This cake really got under my skin. Maybe it was exacerbated by stress build-up over the weekend. I was quite possibly already on the brink of an emotional breakdown. Even after all these months, I find myself standing on the edge. All it takes is something seemingly small – like a simple cake – to push me right over. And now, by association, I hate the cake.
No, actually, I think I just hate this cake.
I got the recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker, whom I admire a great deal, because – well, look at some of her food, and you’ll understand. I should have been making Finnish pulla for Tuesdays with Dorie, but I was afraid that a whole loaf of bread like that would go to waste with just the two of us. Also, it involved braiding a loaf of bread into a wreath, and I’m just not into that kind of thing. Nor do I have that kind of room in my kitchen. I’m sure it’s a lovely bread, but I just didn’t think it was what I wanted to make this week.
Shows how wrong I was. I’m starting to think the Finnish pulla would have been less of a hassle than this rum cake, even with all its kneading and resting time. Seriously, check out the TwD links. Yes, I would have had a huge wreath of bread that looks big enough to feed Geordie and me for a week, but it looks fantastic, reportedly smells delicious, and apparently was easier to make than all those ingredients and instructions would make it seem. Sure, the rum cake took less time overall (except not really), but it certainly appears to be a less stressful endeavor.
From start to finish, the rum cake took me about three hours to make. An hour to get everything prepped and mixed, an hour to bake, and an hour to get all that damned rum syrup into the cake.
Really, it would be most accurate to say that I hate that bleeding rum syrup.
But, from the beginning. As I’ve said, I adore the Brown-Eyed Baker and her recipes, and she makes this one sound so simple and easy and relatively quick. I found this to be untrue. Granted, I tend to get side-tracked, and I am terribly, terribly slow when it comes to prep work and mixing. But I don’t think I’m to blame (entirely) here. So much energy goes into making this cake. I was not adequately equipped for it – my poor little hand-mixer just about wore itself out trying to get all of the flour incorporated in the butter-sugar mixture. It also required a number of bowls, mixing utensils, and measuring cups. My sink was mostly empty when I started this cake; it was overflowing by the end of it.
Finally, it went into the oven to bake for an hour. I should have cleaned up some, but instead, I went upstairs to shower (which I’m glad I did, because if I hadn’t done it then, I never would’ve had one). When I came back down, it was time to start the rum syrup. The recipe suggests that this takes about 10 minutes to do. I’m sure this is true for some people. For me, it took 20. I should’ve guessed from the start that this rum syrup would cause me trouble. Until this point, the cake was only mild annoying, and I was willing to take some of the blame because I had waited until 7pm to start it. But I believed the recipe when it said it would take less than 30 minutes to get the syrup completely poured over the cake.
It took me closer to an hour. I pulled the cake out of the oven, immediately ladled a goodly portion of the rum syrup over it (that took about 5 minutes to do, which should have given me warning enough), and let it set a few minutes. I did not have a bundt pan to bake this in, but I had bought a springform tube pan at IKEA over the weekend for this very cake. So all I had to do was flip it over and unlock it and let it slide off the tube insert.
And then I realized I didn’t have a platter to put it on, and my dinner plates were not big enough. I flipped it over with the cake dead center in the plate, but it didn’t come out that way. It had slid over to one side, so the cake was not evenly on the plate, which was not flat to begin with. It was at this point that I really began to dislike this cake. The rum syrup just cinched it.
I forged ahead, poking holes all over the cake and beginning the long, slow pour. I did as suggested, going very slowly so the syrup would be able to seep in without just pooling over and creating a rummy pond at the bottom of the cake.
Forty minutes later, the syrup was finally gone, and I had a rummy pond at the bottom of the cake. I do not see how it is possible to do this in 15 minutes. I poked the hell out of that cake, and still, each time I ladled more syrup over it, I had to poke more holes. Even if the cake hadn’t been a little uneven (therefore allowing the syrup to run right off one side), the syrup overflowed before it had a chance to soak into the cake, despite that I was going at a snail’s pace.
By this time, it was after 10pm, I was tired and frustrated, and I wanted nothing more to do with the cake. I covered it in plastic wrap and vowed never to make another rum cake. Ever.
I had this piece for breakfast this morning.
Correction: I had a third of this piece for breakfast this morning. I think this is everything a rum cake should be: sweet and buttery and incredibly rummy. But frankly, it’s almost too much. It’s so sweet, so buttery, so very rummy. It’s not something I’m looking forward to eating again any time soon. It’s also got quite a kick from the rum, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing but certainly not something I want an over-abundance of. It’s just not a cake that I enjoy – in either the making or the eating. If moist, decadent rum cakes coated with a layer of rum glaze are your thing, then this is a recipe for you.
But I stand by my initial decision. I am never making another rum cake. Next time, I’ll go with the Finnish holiday bread instead.