Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Starting from scratch

When I think of the friends, family members, and coworkers that my assistant has crafted cakes for, I can't help but think: wow -- she's in good company. A little over two years ago when she first moved to San Francisco (before my time), she had been so nervous about not knowing anyone in the city and having to start from scratch.

You and I both know that some of the finest things in life start from scratch. But every now and then, we sure can use a head start or that extra bit of help. Would my assistant be as happy today if her family friend and coworker hadn't introduced her to their network of friends in the Bay Area? Are box-mix cakes truly inferior to those made from scratch?

While I'll never know the answer to the first question, I'd have to argue "yes" to the second one. Cakes made from pre-packaged mix are tasty enough, but the effort poured into a from-scratch cake oftentimes makes it taste that much better. Well, with one exception: rum cake. The cake that my assistant's mother taught her how to make. The cake that started it all.

Today, I'm going to share with you a recipe for the only cake that we don't make from scratch. It's the exception to the rule, and it sure is a tasty one:

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum (we like to use Myer's)

  1. Preheat oven to 335 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, milk, oil, and rum. Mix until combined into a smooth batter, but don't overbeat. And for best results, make sure your eggs and milk are at room temperature.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a serving plate.
You'll find that some recipes call for a butter rum glaze -- if you want to go that route:
  1. In a saucepan, combine a stick of butter, 1/4 cup water, and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.
  2. After you've turned your cake out of the pan, take a fork and prick it everywhere (don't worry, it can't feel a thing) -- top, sides, and center -- and pour the glaze all over. Let the bundt cake absorb all that rummy goodness and repeat.
If you want the glaze you see here:
  1. Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with a tablespoon of rum and keep adding rum by the teaspoon until you get a nice pouring consistency.
  2. Pour slowly over the top of your cake until it looks like an oversized glazed donut ;)
The bundt cake you see here was made with love for my assistant's friend and cube-mate, Linh-Chi. Happy birthday, Linh-Chi -- cheers to a wonderful you!


swallow said...

that looks like a giant sized donut. :D yummy~

Mad Max Sports said...

This looks awesome. I will definitely make one myself.....when I decide to get my lazy a$$ off the couch and open that box of cake mix =)