Beer Cheese & Rum Cake (Not together, of course)

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I don’t think there is one Bostonian ready for summer to be over. The consistent refrain here is that it’s gone by too fast, as though there had barely been a summer at all. After a cool June, just two months of warm- but not crazy hot -weather has hardly been enough to balance the 10 feet of snow we had this past winter. While it was packed into just 6 weeks or so, it made the winter seem interminable.

We went to S and T’s house – C’s sister and brother-in-law’- in Amesbury for a cookout to celebrate the second to last weekend of informal summer. (Yes, technically summer is not over until September 22 or whatever, but to me, Labor Day heralds the close of summer and start of Autumn.) Their house is a pastoral respite from the city – a homey white 100-year-old farmhouse that borders on on a verdant rolling field of a back yard ringed by majestic shade trees,a   miniature farm with 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a bunch of chickens, and barbecue implements we city dwellers miss, including a charcoal grill, and a smoker.

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With grilling equipment like that, you need to have good meat. S and T are fortunate to live near Tendercrop Farm, a local farm that supplies, among other things, meat they raise themselves. This time we had burgers, possibly one of the best burgers I’d ever eaten. They should get their own post, but I forgot to take pictures. The burgers were topped with beer cheese. Best. Topping. Ever

Beer Cheese

Grate 1 block of cabot extra sharp cheddar into a bowl using a turn-style Parmesan grater to get the small slivers of cheese

Slowly add a hoppy beer, stirring until all of the cheese is soaked.

Let sit for a least a half hour, and the beer and cheese will soften into a saucy spread-like consistency that is perfect spooned onto char-grilled burgers and topped with crispy bacon.

Bouchon Bakery Rum Cake

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I wanted to make a French-inspired dessert – perhaps because I was going to S who grew up with them; perhaps because of the French class I took this summer. I pulled out the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook that has been sitting under my coffee table. unused, for almost 2 years. The reason it is unused is that the recipes are either too complicated or require ingredients that aren’t that easy to get. But I found a surprisingly easy recipe for rum cake.

When I think of rum cake, I think of the yellow layer cake drenched in rum and topped with a whipped cream frosting that my grandmother used to buy at Hornes and rave about how they spent 3 days soaking the cake. I replicated that once using Joanne Chang’s Rum Cake Recipe from Flour Cookbook sometime before I started this blog. The recipe was one of the most complicated ones I’ve made, and while delicious, not delicious enough to justify the effort.  Rum cake does not make me think “french”, but I love almond-meal based cakes, and the Bouchon one was just that. (This is what I mean about the cookbook, though. Almond meal is not a typical ingredient that an American would stock their pantry with. Unless you are like me and love French desserts.)

I was almost put off by their comparison to a Tortuga cake – one of those awful toursity rum cakes in the yellow box that everyone seems to bring back from the islands. But the recipe sounded really good, and it is a boozy cake, so I had to give it a try.

IMPORTANT: This recipe is made for a 15-cup (10½-inch) Bundt pan – the old-fashioned Bundt pans or the ones marked “anniversary”. I only had a 12-cup pan, so I made two extra ‘side cakes’ with the leftover batter. The original recipe says that you only need to leave a  1⁄2-inch space at the top of the pan when filling it with batter, and bake the cake for slightly less time. You need to leave more like an inch of room, as my Bundt was verging on a “Cindy Bakes A Cake” overflow.

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I put the extra into two small  heart-shaped pans and baked for about 40 minutes.

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CAKE

16.5 ounces (468 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for the pan

2 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon (562 grams) Granulated sugar, plus additional for the pan
4 cups + 3 tablespoons (468 grams) Almond flour/meal
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150 grams) All-purpose flour
2 cups + 3 tablespoons (562 grams) Eggs
1/3 cup (75 grams) Myer’s dark rum

For Rum Soak

3/4 cup Goslings dark rum
1/4 cup Simple Syrup (recipe follows)

Rum Icing (recipe follows)

 

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (convection) or 350°F (standard). Brush the Bundt pan with butter. Refrigerate or freeze the pan to harden the butter (this will make it much easier to coat the pan with an even layer of sugar).
  •  Add a large spoonful of sugar to the pan and rotate and tap the pan to cover the surface evenly. Invert the pan and tap lightly to remove any excess sugar.
  • Place the almond flour in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10 times to break up any larger clumps. Pour the almond flour into a large bowl and run it through your fingers to be certain that there are no remaining lumps. Add the all-purpose flour and whisk to combine.

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  • Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed, until it has the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted.

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  • Add the sugar and mix, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, for about 7 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy.

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  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer to low speed, slowly add about one-third of the eggs, and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl again.

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  • Add half the remaining eggs and mix to combine, then scrape the bowl again, add the remaining eggs, and mix for another 10 seconds. The mixture may look broken, which is fine (overwhipping the eggs could cause the cake to expand too much during baking and then deflate).

 

  • On low speed, add the flour mixture one-third at a time, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have settled there.

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  • Transfer 1 cup of the batter to a small bowl and stir in the 75 grams/1/3 cup rum until combined.

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Fold into the remaining batter, combining it thoroughly (the texture of the batter may not be smooth).

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  • With a spatula, gently scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the bottom of the pan against the work surface and rotate it back and forth to distribute the batter evenly.

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  • Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in a convection oven, 65 to 70 minutes in a standard oven, until the cake is golden brown (the color may be somewhat darker if you’re not using a cast-iron pan) and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. NOTE: I had to bake this for close to 75 minutes. 

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RUM

I modified the Bouchon version which combines 3 Tablespoons of rum with 3 Tablespoons of simple syrup because I thought it would be too sweet. I also thought it needed more rum. And, indeed, with the density of this cake, it does need it.

  • Mix the remaining 3/4 cup  rum with 1/4 cup simple syrup. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and unmold the cake onto it. (NOTE: I didn’t have a rack available so I did this on the cake safe which was just really messy.)

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  • Cool for about 10 minutes, then brush the cake evenly with the rum mixture. Let cool completely.

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RUM ICING

Makes 2/3 cup (200 grams)

1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (180 grams) Powdered sugar

1 tablespoon (15 grams) Gosling’s dark rum

1 tablespoon (15 grams) Water

Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the rum and water until smooth. The icing should be used immediately.

To glaze the cake: Using a pastry brush, drizzle the rum icing over the top of the cake; or spoon it over the cake for more coverage, letting it run down the sides. (You may not use all of the icing.)

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The cake is best made a day ahead (store in a covered container at room temperature); it will keep well for up to 3 days.

SIMPLE SYRUP

½ cup (100 grams) Granulated Sugar

½ cup (117 grams) Water

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator. The syrup keeps indefinitely.

 

The cake is delicious – a dense, but simultaneously light, texture with a gentle nut and rum flavor.

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