Baked Sunday Mornings: Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake

I was definitely not optimistic about this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, the "Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake." I don't drink alcohol at all, and rum in particular is a flavor I despise. But I'm committed to baking my way through the Baked cookbooks and following each recipe faithfully, so I embraced the opportunity to make this cake even though it contains copious amounts of rum in the cake batter, the syrup used to soak the cake, and the glaze on top.

You make the cake batter by beating room temperature butter and dark brown sugar until light and fluffy, adding eggs and an egg yolk, and then alternately adding the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, freshly ground black pepper, salt) and liquid ingredients (buttermilk, dark rum, vanilla). You pour the batter into a buttered and floured Bundt pan and bake. The raw batter was quite fragrant and the cake smelled amazing while baking.

The cake rose quite a bit in the pan and released cleanly with no problem after cooling for 30 minutes. When the cake was fully cooled, I put the cake back in the (washed and dried) Bundt pan, poked holes in the bottom of the cake with a skewer, and brushed on rum syrup. You make the syrup by heating butter, sugar, and water; boiling the mixture for three minutes; and adding dark rum. While the mixture was boiling on the stove, it started to make the popping noise that is the characteristic sound of butter browning. Before adding the rum, the mixture was golden but cloudy; it was thin and looked like it had bits of butter suspended in it. I was worried until I added the rum, at which point the mixture became a homogeneous dark amber color with a thicker syrup-like consistency. The recipe produced seven fluid ounces of rum syrup and I used about half.

After I let the syrup soak into the cake overnight, I turned the cake out of the pan and topped it with a buttered rum drizzle made from powdered sugar, melted butter, and dark rum. The recipe instructs you to whisk the ingredients together until glossy and almost pourable. I found that the mixture was quite thin to start with and thickened as I continued to whisk it. The glaze set enough to keep its shape but never became completely firm.

I couldn't believe how much I liked this cake. The texture was wonderful: dense, moist, and soft. The unusual flavor is difficult for me to describe -- mild, warm, sweet and caramel-y, with a bit of an edge from the black pepper. It reminded me of another cake I've had before, but I couldn't quite place it -- maybe the Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting or the Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze? The rum flavor was surprisingly subtle and I didn't mind it at all (I used Flor de Caña seven-year old Grand Reserve rum).

This cake was simply delicious, but above all, it was unexpected -- it made me a fan of rum cake!

Recipe: "Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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Your cake looks great! Love the presentation. And glad to hear the rum didn't turn you off. It is a great ingredient for baking.
Anonymous said…
Picture perfect! Glad you liked it. :)
Chelly said…
Glad you liked it! It sure looks beautiful!
Chelly said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louise said…
This looks great. Soon you'll be baking the classic Bacardi Rum Cake. :-)
Your cake looks great! Totally agree - I was surprised how much I liked it!
April Fossen said…
Wow. You're making me sorry I skipped this one.
Anonymous said…
We loved this cake too, yours looks lovely!
Anonymous said…
Beautiful cake, ma'am! I too was surprised by how much I loved this one, as I'm not generally a fan of boozy desserts. I loved your description of the unusual flavor, especially the "edge" from the pepper-- I think you hit the nail on the head! It really is hard to pin down, isn't it? I had the exact same experience with the thin glaze, so I thickened it with more sugar, and mine never quite hardened either, though I don't know that it's supposed to. So your "syrup" was actually a syrup! Mine wasn't syrupy or brown at all, so apparently I didn't let it cook nearly as long as yours. I bet it was awesome with browned butter! I ended up just brushing the top of my cake with the "liquid", which worked great. Great job-- I applaud your willingness to try everything from the books! :)