Baked Sunday Mornings: Hair of the Dog Cake

I have never been a fan of New Year's Eve. To me it seems like a whole lot of hubbub about nothing. But hey, I'll use any excuse to bake. The recipe that Matt and Renato selected for New Year's Day in Baked Occasions is a Hair of the Dog Cake.

I'll admit I wasn't too thrilled about the prospect of making a boozy rum cake. I don't drink alcohol at all and the flavor of rum has always been particularly distasteful to me -- but I'll do anything for Baked Sunday Mornings. This is a hot milk sponge cake that you make by beating eggs, an egg yolk, and sugar until very thick and pale; adding all of the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt); and then incorporating a mixture of hot milk, melted butter, rum, and vanilla. The batter was very light and foamy. You bake the cake in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
While the cake is in the oven, you prepare the frosting, which is a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and rum. You pour the frosting over the warm cake fresh from the oven and then place the cake under the broiler until the frosting is brown and bubbly.

I had lined my cake pan with parchment paper, and while the top of the baked cake was relatively flat, the top edges of the cake pulled back a little from the sides of the pan after I took it out of the oven. So when I poured on the liquid frosting, quite a bit of the frosting rolled off the top of the cake and over the sides into the gap between the cake and the parchment paper. The frosting was captured by the paper and pooled along the sides of the cake. As a result, the sides and outer bottom edges of the cake ended up soaked in frosting -- you can see this in the photo above, where the sides of the cake (both pieces in the photo are edge pieces) are darker because they absorbed the dark-colored frosting.

I have an irrational fear of the broiler in our gas oven. To me it looks pretty much like a flaming portal to hell. Even though the recipe says to put the cake "directly" under the broiler, I put the cake on a rack in the middle of the oven. The frosting started bubbling immediately, so I turned the pan on the rack constantly until the frosting looked like it was evenly toasted -- probably no more than 90 seconds total, with the oven door open the entire time. Perhaps I should have left the cake under there longer, but I was terrified of burning it.

After the cake had cooled a bit but was still warm, I cut a slice for my husband (he is the designated taster in our house for boozy baked goods). He liked it but was startled by the high rum content of the cake and said that it was the most alcoholic dessert he had ever tasted. The next morning, I cut up the remainder of the cake to take into the office and I couldn't resist trying a bite -- the dense, even crumb of the sponge cake looked like it was the platonic ideal.

To my surprise and delight, the rum flavor was smoky and mellow, and the cake wasn't too alcoholic for me to enjoy. I thought the cake was delicious, and the tender texture of the sponge was perfect. I served it without the rum whipped cream and it was still terrific. Even so, I think that I would enjoy this cake more without the rum, and I hope to try a plain vanilla version some day.

Recipe: "Hair of the Dog Cake" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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Anonymous said…
The cake was pretty much perfect, I agree! Even though I boozed mine up quite a bit (I love rum cake), I would absolutely use the cake recipe for many other applications. You're looks great!
Anonymous said…
I'm so glad you liked it, rum and all! I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised-- very boozy desserts are not my favorite, but this was super delicious! The same thing happened to me with the frosting pouring down along the sides of the pan, so most of it ended up on the bottom. Nevertheless, like you said, the spongy texture was great and it was very enjoyable. I fear the broiler too! :)
Loved this cake. It is something I will definitely be making again. And would love to try different flavours.