Friday, December 24, 2010

Pecan Rum Cake

Toward the end of every year festive cakes abound. They tend to have dried fruit and/or nuts and/or lots of booze. This is one such cake. It’s not an everyday cake but one that you’d want on a platter with all your other holiday treats. In fact, if you still have some holiday eggnog lying around, it would probably make a good pairing.

This has a brown sugar caramel pecan mixture layered into a very simple cake with the wonderful holiday flavors of rum and nutmeg and a snowy dusting of confectioner's sugar. Not very complicated and not very fussy. Just a bit festive and fun!

My very best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season to you and your loved ones. Cheers!!

Bench notes:
- Toast the pecans in a 350 degree oven for about 5 - 10 minutes or until they are only slightly darkened and give off a toasty aroma. Check them frequently and give them a shake to avoid having them get too dark and taking on a bitter taste.
- Dollop the thick and gooey pecan caramel mixture but no need to try and spread it into an even layer. I used a tablespoon and there were about 6 - 7 dollops in each layer. Just be sure to keep it from touching the sides of the pan where it is likely to burn and taste bitter.
- For storage, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap to ensure that it stays moist.
- If you prefer brandy and walnuts, try the very delicious Walnut Brandy Cake.

Pecan Rum Cake

6 oz butter @ room temperature
1 C sugar
3 eggs @ room temperature
1/4 C whole milk @ room temperature
3 T rum
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
generous 1/8 t of freshly grated nutmeg

Pecan Filling

1/4 C + 2 T heavy cream
generous 1/4 t instant espresso powder
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 t rum
little pinch salt
1 C toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

confectioner's sugar for dusting

For the pecan filling, place the cream, espresso powder and cinnamon in a saucepan over very low heat. Stir to dissolve. Add the brown sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Increase the heat and boil for two minutes. Take off the heat and add vanilla, rum and salt, to taste. Stir in the chopped pecans. Set aside to firm up.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2” loaf pan with a light application of butter or oil and a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang on both sides along the length of the pan. Lightly grease the parchment.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Combine milk, rum and vanilla.

Cream butter and gradually beat in sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Alternate adding a third of the flour to the butter and eggs with 1/2 of the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Once all the ingredients are in, mix just a minute or so then finish the mixing gently by hand.

Pour one third of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Use a small offset spatula or spoon to spread the batter evenly. Gently dollop half of the pecan mixture on top of the batter, making sure it does not touch the sides of the pan. Layer another third of the batter on top of the pecans and gently spread that out. Dollop the remaining pecan mixture. Finish with the remaining batter and spread gently.

Bake the cake for about 50 – 60 minutes or until it tests done.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan and cool the cake completely. Peel off the paper and dust the top with confectioners' sugar.

To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap.


A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Love seeing booze in holiday desserts ... seems to make things all the more festive. I look forward to my grandmother's rum balls every year for that very reason. Have a very happy holiday!

Anonymous said...

This year, at age 60, I made my first ever batch of (dark) fruitcake and am feeding it with bourbon. Mmmmm This one looks lovely too.

Best Wishes for all the Holidays and 2011


pastry studio said...

Plum, Season's Greetings!

OhEss, I like fruitcake and yours sounds delicious! Sending you lots of my very best wishes, my dear!

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

That pecan filling looks delicious and I like that it has espresso. My family isn't getting together until Dec 30, this would be a great cake to bring.

Victoria said...

Happy New Year, and thank you, once again, for a magnificent treat.

I made this cake yesterday, using Gosling's Black Seal Rum and topped it with a dollop of cream lightly whipped without sugar but a little Gosling's added. It was delicious, and everyone enjoyed it for dessert on a cold night with small glasses of chilled ice wine.

My pecan layer sort of morphed into one instead of being two distinct layers like yours. Perhaps I didn't have the batter divided evenly into thirds. Any suggestions?

pastry studio said...

Happy New Year, Victoria! Your cake and accompaniments sound wonderful. And thanks, as always, for your valuable feedback.

The cake batter does seem slight when you are layering it, so the cake layers are fairly stretched. I eyeballed it and put a good solid layer on the bottom, then used a small offset spatula to spread the two remaining layers of batter to the edges. At some point I might think about retesting this to thin out the pecan caramel and make it more gooey so I can then try to swirl it. I'm glad you were able to enjoy it with your friends in any case.


Victoria said...

Cheers back to you. I don't know that this recipe needs any improvement other than for me to master the technique better. I have a small offset spatula; I just couldn't get my hands on it yesterday. It must be in the city.

The cake itself is delicious, and the pecan filling is really wonderful. I think I like it better this way than I would as a swirl because you get the full flavor of both the cake and the filling rather than one homogenous taste, if you know what I mean.

Here's a question. My KitchenAid mixer is old, and it's got a 4-quart bowl and is not the Artisan mixer, which seems to be favored by most people today. It still works well so I am conflicted as to whether or not I should replace it with the Artisan model. What do you think?

pastry studio said...

About the full flavor of the pecan filling, that's what I was going for when I decided on this particular configuration. I thought it would be great to have a good bite of the filling along with the rum-nutmeg simplicity of the cake. But there is quite a lot of filling.

The new Artisans are beautiful but I confess I have an old standard bowl-lift model that I bought as a gift to myself when I was in pastry school. It is such a reliable workhorse that I've never even thought about replacing it, but I can certainly see where it would be exciting to have a new one! I think it depends on what kind of mixing you do. If you like to double recipes or use it for breads you might want to upgrade for greater capacity. The prices are falling and it is a great purchase, to be sure.

There are actually few things in my kitchen that get a lot of use in terms of baking: the KitchenAid, my Cuisinart (that's also quite an old model that's is super sturdy and reliable), just the basic tools and basic pans. And lots of parchment! (I bought a box of 1000 full sheets from a local restaurant supply and it has lasted me for years!) I have a lot of other stuff that I bought when I finished pastry school but it doesn't see frequent use. But I must say whenever I go into a shop with kitchen stuff I get dizzy with excitement.

Victoria said...

You answered my question. Thanks. I'm sticking with my original KitchenAid. It's a dream, and I love it. I also like to have an electric hand mixer around for when I'm whipping potatoes and or for whipping cream (although David Tanis in A Platter of Figs recommends a whisk or an old-fashioned eggbeater). I had a KitchenAid with two sets of beaters so I could keep one in the freezer. It had a weird digital on/off switch, and three days ago, it just stopped working. So now I need another one and can't find any reviews I like. Perhaps I'll get a small copper bowl and always whip cream with a whisk, but I do need something for the potatoes.

For the cake, maybe I will just use a little less filling as I did like the difference in the texture not swirling it made.

I prefer parchment to Silpat and have a professional roll in the cupboard, and I have good quality heavy half sheet pans that I like very much. I have a whisk with balls on the ends and a wonderful tamis, both from E. Dehillerin in Paris, which I would be very loathe to part with because (1) I like them, and (2) I have never seem them in the States.

Your favorite kitchen tools would make a great post!

pastry studio said...

Oh, how I would love to go to Dehillerin. I only have a bowl scraper from there that was given to me by a French chef years ago.

Sounds like you have a very well equiped kitchen! I've thought about doing such a post, just not sure if people would be interested. But I'll need to write something up along those lines for my other bigger project in progress.