Florida Rum Cake

Florida Rum Cake

Photo Copyright © Louise Crosby

The Canadian winter can be an endurance test. Sure, we all put on a brave face, resolve to bundle up and get out there, embrace the cold, head for the hills with our skis, or, in the case of Ottawa, climb down onto the Rideau Canal to skate on the largest skating rink in the world. This winter is worse than most, as you will know. In fact, it has become a real slog, particularly on those long stretches when the daytime high reaches only – 25 celsius and the wind chill makes it feel more like – 40, when exposed flesh freezes in just a few minutes, when cars can barely navigate the snow banks on city streets, and everything cracks, crunches or squeaks. Most of Canada and the United States has been locked in a deep freeze for days, and a whole new lexicon has emerged, words like polar vortex, troughs and ridges, frost quakes, flash freezes and warming centres. The news is grim: travellers stranded at airports for days, massive power outages, suffering and hardship all around. Can we possibly survive?

So it was with hope in my heart that I spied this recipe for Florida Rum Cake from Maida Heatter’s Cakes.

This is a buttermilk walnut cake with a lemon, orange and rum glaze; one bite and the frost on your eyelashes will melt and you will be transported to warm and beautiful place where the air is moist and soft and fragrant and the sun sparkles off the water. You will feel the heat on your skin and forget about your boots and balaclavas. Your pale complexion will start to take on some colour and your entire outlook will improve. A second bite and you will see spring way off on the horizon, and all will be well.

Florida Rum Cake
  • Cake
  • 2½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Finely grated rind of 1 large fresh lemon
  • Finely grated rind of 2 large, deep-coloured oranges
  • (juices of lemon and oranges will be used for the Glaze)
  • 4 ounces (generous 1 cup) walnuts, chopped into small pieces (3/4-1/4-inch pieces)
  • Glaze
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons dark rum
  1. Cake
  2. Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a one-piece kugelhopf or Bundt-type tube pan that has an 8- to 10-cup capacity; it is best to use soft (not melted) butter and a pastry brush. Dust the pan all over with fine, dry bread crumbs, then, over a piece of paper, tap to shake out excess crumbs. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
  4. Beat the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer until it is soft. Add the sugar and beat to mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat to mix after each addition. Then, on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the buttermilk in two additions, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula and beating only until smooth after each addition.
  5. Remove from the mixer. Stir in the grated rinds and then the nuts.
  6. Turn into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the top springs back sharply when it is lightly pressed with a fingertip.
  8. Glaze
  9. Place both juices and the sugar in a small saucepan and set aside.
  10. When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and set it on a rack; immediately place the saucepan over moderate or high heat and stir with a small wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture just comes to a low boil. Remove it from the heat and stir in the rum.
  11. Pierce all over the top of the cake with a cake tester. Then, gradually spoon the hot glaze over the hot cake (still in the pan), spooning only about a tablespoonful at a time (or a little more at the beginning). When about half of the glaze has been added, and some of it remains around the rim of the cake (instead of being absorbed immediately), use a small, narrow metal spatula or a table knife and gently ease the edges of the cake (around the tub also) just a bit away from the pan, allowing the glaze to run down the sides. Continue adding the glaze (and releasing the sides occasionally) until it is all absorbed. (Toward the end you will wonder, but the cake will absorb it all.)
  12. Let stand for about 10 minutes, until the bottom of the pan is not too hot to touch. Then cover the pan with a cake plate, hold the pan and plate firmly together, and turn them over. Remove the pan. If it does not come away easily, bang both the pan and the plate against the work surface; once should be enough. Remove the pan. Brush away any loose crumbs on the plate.
  13. Let stand for a few hours and then cover airtight with plastic wrap. Let stand overnight (if possible).
  14. Serve this in thick slices.
  • Serves: 16



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