Yesterday was my birthday! I spent the morning at the doctors- a convenient way to justify a birthday sick day- then lunch with a former coworker and then the evening baking and being lazy. It was delightful!
The baking I was doing was for a birthday cake for me. Now, before you scold me or my husband for making my own celebratory pastry, have no fear- I wanted to do it! It is rare I can justify making an extravagant dessert that is both involved and fattening. So it was truly a joy to try my hand at a new dish.
I chose to make an Italian Rum Cake. My grandmother regularly would buy an Italian rum cake for my mother's birthday from La Cascia Bakery in Massachusetts. Their cake was always rich and fancy and as a kid I mostly wanted to eat the buttercream roses.
This was a 2-day process. Yesterday I made the sponge cake and the pasticciera custard. I let the rum soak in last night while the custard cooled in the fridge. Today was assembly and the frosting. In the criticism department, I didn't cook my custard long enough, so it was a little runny, and my buttercream frosting was a little soft since I used more butter than shortening. In the complement department, oooooh-weeee, it's good! So many great flavors all tied in together and it really did look quite fancy.
Happy 30th birthday to me!
Italian Rum Cake
Based from RecipeZaar.com
- 5 Egg Yolks
- 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 C. White Sugar, divided
- 5 Egg Whites
- 1 1/4 C. Flour, sifted
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 C. of sugar until a light lemony color.
- In a stand mixer (or another bowl using a hand mixer), whip the egg whites until soft peaks start to form.
- Blend in the remaining sugar to the egg whites and whip again until stiff.
- Gently fold about 1/2 cup of the egg white mixture into the egg yolks. Layer the remaining egg whites on top of the yolks. Sift the flour on top of everything else.
- Fold in the flour until the batter is smooth and no veins of flour remain. During the mixing process you want to keep the eggs light and fluffy- this is what keeps the sponge cake airy.
- Pour into 9" round cake pan. I greased and floured mine and it was a bear to remove, so I can't offer much in the way of advice in that regard!
- Bake for 15-30 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool completely on a baking rack.
Pasticciera Cream (vanilla and chocolate)
- 3 Tbsp. Sugar
- 3 Tbsp. Flour
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 2 C. Milk
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- 2 Heaping Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
- In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, scald the milk. I think this means to take the milk until almost boiling... that's what I did right or not!
- Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. When all combined, transfer back into the saucepan and cook over low-medium heat.
- At this point, you need to cook the custard over the right heat so that it stays nice and hot and steamy, but not boiling. You will want to cook it until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Your custard will need to be fairly stiff, but it won't cook down all the way- it will do its final thickening while cooling. This is where I didn't cook my vanilla enough. I went for about 15-20 minutes and probably should have done 30.
- When you are satisfied with the consistency, melt the butter into the mix and then remove half of the vanilla to a bowl. It will be about 1 1/2 - 2 C. worth. Cover this portion with plastic wrap right up against the surface (to prevent a skin from forming) and let cool on counter.
- Back in the pot, whisk in the chocolate. When smooth, pour into a another medium bowl and cover with wrap and cool.
- When the bowls are not too hot, finish cooling the custards in the fridge. They will need at least 3-4 hours, but I recommend just going overnight.
- Cooled Cake
- 1/4 C. Dark Rum
- Vanilla Custard
- Chocolate Custard
- Light Buttercream or Whipped Cream Frosting (I used this reduced 4 servings with more cream and 2/3 butter, 1/3 shortening.)
- Toasted Sliced Almonds
- Strawberries or Cherries (optional)
- Using a long, serrated blade, slice the sponge cake into 3 layers. (That's 2 cuts for those like me who have to think hard about simple math!)
- On the cut sides of cake, brush on the rum, allowing it to soak in.
- On the bottom layer, spread the chocolate custard evenly.
- Place the middle layer on top of the chocolate custard.
- On the middle layer, spread the vanilla custard evenly. If desired, layer on any berries if desired. I like the sliced strawberries from the frozen section in the grocery stores.
- Put on the top layer of the cake.
- Frost the edges of the cake. Press the toasted almond slices into the sides. I kind of lightly threw them on with a cupped hand because my custard was oozing out and I couldn't roll the edges on wax paper with almonds.
- Frost the top of the cake. If you have extra frosting and are feeling ambitious, pipe on a border. This helped my rounded edges gain some height.
- I then made a Nutella glaze (Nutella, cream, hot water) to drizzle on top with a few strawberries for punch. More almonds or pretty flowers would also be lovely.
- Let sit for a little bit to let the rum soak in and the flavors meld. Be sure to keep refrigerated when not serving or else the frosting and custard will run.