It’s been a long week. You know what? It’s been a long couple of weeks. A long past few months, years, and on and on and on. But, if there is anything the Internet does not need any more of, it’s complaining. So, I am not going to talk about the past few years of difficulty, wasted energy, and general disappointment. Instead, I am going to talk about someone who inhabits the very antithesis of all the crass inequity doled out by the universe. And then I am going to tell you all about the cake I made for her.
My friend Corinna is the genius behind Piddix, a one-woman operation that sells collage sheets of images and designs that have been meticulously curated by Corinna herself. If given a million years to ponder, never would I have come up with such a brilliant, creative, and fascinating business idea. But this is what Corinna does. She’s got sort of a magic touch when it comes to stuff like that—ideas, inspiration—and I tend to think that quite a bit of Corinna’s magic is the result of her incredible niceness. No, really. I am fairly certain that Corinna is the nicest person I have ever met. She would, of course, disagree with my assessment, but that is what nice people do. Nice people are also modest about their niceness, because, to them, being nice is just a way of life, not a noteworthy trait to be lauded and celebrated.
But, come on, we should be allowed to celebrate just a little bit, right? It’s not everyday you meet someone like Corinna, and I have had the pleasure of being in Corinna’s company for 18 years now, which seems like a fantastic stroke of luck to possess. So, if there was anyone I knew who was deserving of a cake—a cake made possible by the generosity of others—it was Corinna. And, lucky for me, when it comes to cake, Corinna is a tough cookie to please, meaning that making a special cake for a special person would, in this case, require me to delve deep into the recesses of my mental baking archives and come up with one showstopper of a cake.
When the flour dust cloud in my kitchen had cleared, this is what emerged. A moist sour cream cake, fortified with rum, rich with butter, then glazed with a heavy hand of even yet more rum and butter. As described by Corinna, it’s reminiscent of an old-fashioned doughnut, but still in possession of cake-like qualities. Also, it’s got booze in it. Which means that if you are going to celebrate a person or an event, you’ll get a good jump on things by introducing this cake into the celebration.
2 ¼ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup dark rum
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark rum
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Thoroughly butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until light and creamy. Add the sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add the vanilla and rum and beat until combined.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add one third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Add half of the sour cream, and beat until just combined. Add half of the remaining flour mixture, beat until just combined, then add the remaining sour cream, mixing only until just combined. Add the last of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake emerges with just a few moist crumbs attached, and the top of the cake is golden brown. Cool the cake in its pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
To make rum glaze, melt the butter in a small or medium saucepan. Stir in the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, then, over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, then remove from heat and stir in the rum and pinch of sea salt.
While cake is still slightly warm, brush all over with rum glaze. Allow the first coat of glaze to cool a bit, then glaze again. Repeat until all of the glaze has been brushed onto the cake. Layering the glaze applications will result in a fantastic coating with a really great, toothsome bite.