{twd} rum-drenched vanilla cakes

I have no idea why I never noticed this recipe until it was my turn to pick one. Really, it has everything I enjoy. Rum. Vanilla Beans. Low Mess/Dirty Dish Count. No Waiting for Butter to Soften. Simple Straight-Forward Recipe.

I joined Tuesdays with Dorie back in August 2008 and now almost 2 years later it is finally my turn to host a recipe. It was a super-easy pick for me. I just flipped through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours and the book fell open to page 226: Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes.

Originally when I selected this recipe I was going to make it three times. Once with the beans I bought in Taha’a, Tahiti; once with the beans I bought in Zihuatanejo, Mexico;ย  and once with the beans I bought in Vava’u, Tonga. I even considered making it four times with the Madagascar vanilla beans that I have but did not travel to get. Yeah, I may have a little vanilla bean problem. I wanted to see if I could taste the difference.

I also have a time management problem and ran out of time. I went out-of-town this weekend, got home Sunday afternoon, went to go make the cakes, realized I didn’t have eggs or cream, ran to Trader Joe’s, got home, realized I was out of sugar, debated going to the store again, decided to use the homemade vanilla sugar I had and had just the right amount for the recipe.

This is an awesome recipe. The cake is unbelievably good. The texture is amazing and flavors work really well together. Yum.

Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes

Recipe from Baking…From My Home to Yours, page 226.

The texture of this cake is so perfect–the crumb so soft, even and tightly knit–that you could mistake it for a Sara Lee pound cake. That’s high praise in my book: I’ve always loved Sara Lee’s compact, tiny-bubble crumb and the slices of cake are simultaneously firm and supple. But what you get here is a flavor Sara Lee can never deliver, one that depends on using the very best vanilla you can find. The first choice is a pair of moist, pliable vanilla beans. You get the truest flavor from beans, and if you follow the nifty technique ofย  of rubbing the pulp of the beans into the sugar, you’ll get maximum results. If you use extract, you’ll still produce an excellent cake, but you’ve got to use pure extract. As for the rum–it should be high-quality, dark and strong.

Make the syrup as soon as you slide the cakes into the oven to bake–that way, it will have time to cool.

For the Cakes

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 2 plump, moist vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 stick plus 7 tablespoons (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Syrup

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-x-2 1/2 -inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. (Even if the pans are nonstick, it’s a good idea to butter and flour them.) Place the pans on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Put the sugar and the pulp from the vanilla beans, if using them, in a large bowl and, 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 extract, if you are using it, then whisk in the cream, followed by the rum. Continuing with the whisk or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. (As soon as the cakes go into the oven, make the syrup.) After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for color–if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.

Meanwhile, Make the Syrup: Stir the water and sugar together in a medium 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 heatproof bowl and let cool.

When the cakes test done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer, cake tester or thin-blade sharp knife, poke holes all over the cakes. Brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.


56 thoughts on “{twd} rum-drenched vanilla cakes

  1. This was a great pick, thanks Wendy. I loved this cake! Wow, I am impressed with your range of vanilla beans – at present, I don’t have any so I just used essence.

  2. I love your baking plan, and I have no doubt that you will make the other versions soon. This really was a wonderfully easy cake; I’ll get on board with anything that doesn’t need softened butter or my mixer. Next time I’m using the vanilla + rum though, my lemon version doesn’t look as good.

  3. Awesome pick, Wendy! This cake was fabulous. I couldn’t decide whether to use Bourbon or Tahitian beans, so I used one of each. =)

  4. thanks for a pick that was so easy to fit in last minute! Your loaf looks great- no need to make three when you came up with a perfect one on the first go around

  5. What a beautiful cake, love the sprinkles on top and the plate beneath! LOL on the trips to the store, having teens means they tend to eat everything in sight and my trips are usually a result of thinking I have an ingredient and realizing they ATE IT! We enjoyed this pick very much, thanks!

  6. FABULOUS pick, Wendy! This will be my new go-to “pound cake” – I especially love that the butter (far less than a pound!) does not need to soften first. This was so easy and delicious. Yours look great!

  7. I can’t believe you have vanilla beans from so many different places! I bought mine for the first time for this recipe at Walmart…haha!

    Anyway, your cake looks great!

  8. Great pick, Wendy!! Wow, sounds like you have quite a stach of vanilla beans!! Can I borrow some?? I didn’t have any and never had a chance to pick some up! Your cake looks delicious!!

  9. Perfect pick, Wendy. Everyone who ate this LOVED it. I knew you liked vanilla beans, that would have been a fun experiment to try each and see how different they are. Playing out of town is more fun!

  10. A VERY good pick! Good thing it was so quick to make – fits into a busy schedule (sounds like yours)! The loaf looks wonderful – it’s now a favorite of mine!

  11. GREAT pick!! Like the idea of comparing vanilla. You are becomming a gourmet of fine vanilla.

    We enjoyed this cake. Will make it often. Such great texture. Excited about trying all the variations people came up with.

    Thanks for this one, Wendy.

  12. I can see you wanting to do the complete comparison, and I wouldn’t have gone back to Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon either. Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for hosting this week!

  13. I’m unofficial TWD (I was let go)–but recently have returned to following along–I was so glad you picked this because I’ve had my eye on it forever (truly. Someone gave me vanilla beans about a year ago to use for this…)…for me it’s the perfect dessert…Just enough with a small slice…great pick.

  14. I love you! A vanilla bean obsessed baker that falls into the same traps I do. My record is 4 trips to the store while making a single recipe. This pound cake blew me away. I think it’s one of my favorite TWD recipes.

  15. I’m running late with my post on this one, but should have it later in the week. Delicious looking cake you have there. Would be great with a cup of coffee, right? Or milk. . .YUM. Your cake looks perfect.

  16. After the last-minute trip to Trader’s Joe and the discovery of the sugar shortage, thank goodness you were happy with the cake! The cake is one of my favorites — good with almost everything — so I’m really glad that you and so many other TWDers liked it too.

    Love that you have vanilla beans from the wonderful places you’ve traveled to.

  17. First of all, I think you have a vanilla problem. The only solution is to go cold turkey. Mailing me your vanilla pods is the first step toward a healthier, happier life.

    Secondly, your loaf looks great! I love the sugar on top.

  18. vanilla, rum, heavy cream…what’s not to like! What a fabulous cake, I’m definitely making this one.

  19. i tried the cake and love it BUT…i was wondering why the top of my cake is so much lighter than the bottom. the bottom half is heavier/more dense. did i whip the cream too much maybe? or not enough? how long do u whip the cream for, just till combined? or to add some volume?

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