Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pineapple Rum Tortuga Cake

Piece of Pineapple Tortuga Cake showing Almond Topping
Moist & Rich Cake with Ground Almond Topping

Recipe Adapted from Various Sources

This year Pirates Kidnapped the Luau (party), so my usual Aloha-style Ginger Frosted Pineapple Cake—from Cooking By Moonlight—needed some Caribbean-ization. King Arthur’s Flour’s blog and Wuvie from Instructables helped me create a pineapple variation of a Tortuga Rum Cake. The most important detail of this recipe is that it must be made a day or two in advance to allow the rum glaze to mellow and permeate the cake. It’s best when left overnight in the pan before flipping onto the serving plate and enjoying. The flavor and texture are worth the wait!

Slice of Cake with Pirate Flag
Pirate Flag Optional
Tortuga rum cake recipes always call for instant pudding, full of artificial ingredients. I substituted a natural, long-cooking pudding mix, which works fine. Some recipes require cake flour, and I’d recommend a premium all-purpose flour like King Arthur’s for best cake texture. Note that you’ll need a stand mixer to ensure best Tortuga rum cake results.

Cake on Platter almost Half Gone
Pineapple Rum Cake: Popular at Parties
Use a quality white or golden rum in the cake and the glaze.  Tortuga rum is traditional. I like Mt. Gay Eclipse Rum, a mellow not-too-expensive golden, and used it in combination with a bit of leftover white Bacardi. Don’t use a dark rum like Myers’s—save that for drinks. A coconut flavored rum could make a fun cake variation, especially topped with shredded coconut instead of the traditional toasted almond or pecan meal before serving.

Cake in Bundt pan Soaked with Glaze
Allow Glaze to Soak in Overnight
Tortuga cakes are glazed in an unusual manner; the glaze is poured a little at a time onto the hot cake when the pan first emerges from the oven. Be sure to have the glaze ready when the cake comes out! Don’t rush the process, let each pouring of glaze soak in before adding more.  You’ll be making about 5 or 6 passes total, with wait time in between. If glaze cools off and gets too thick, pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds. I’ve used (half) brown sugar in my glaze, an unusual choice that makes a thicker glaze with a hearty Caribbean flavor.

Whole Pineapple Rum Cake
Pineapple Rum Success
The question arises about how much time to cook the rum in the glaze. More cooking (per most recipes) concentrates the flavor but reduces the alcohol content to nil. I add the rum in two stages: the first half is cooked with the sugar and butter, and the second half added along with the vanilla when the glaze is somewhat cooled. I’ve also increased the amount of rum by ¼ cup. Recipe standard is ½ cup, though I’ve seen one recipe that uses 1 cup—use your discretion. Remember to add the rum a little at a time when the glaze is warm, stirring constantly, as it can boil up.

Not all of us can get to the Caribbean this month, but making this cake can brighten up a dreary winter day. Please post a comment if you try it, and let us know if you made any variations.

Profile View of Cake on Plate
Another Slice of Deliciousness
Pineapple Rum Cake
serves about 10 – 12

Sunflower oil spray
½ cup + 2 tbsp. almond or pecan meal (see below)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 package organic vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup soft butter
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 – 14 oz. can organic crushed pineapple
½ cup white or golden rum
2 tsp. vanilla

½ cup butter
¼ cup water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white or golden rum
½ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Drain the pineapple but keep the juice.

You can grind your own almond or pecan meal from nuts if needed, using a blender or coffee grinder (I keep a separate cup to grind spices and nuts). Toast the meal in a small sauté pan over medium heat, stirring constantly till lightly browned and fragrant. Immediately remove to cool plate to avoid burning.

Spray the bottom of a large (10 – 12 cup) Bundt pan lightly with sunflower oil. Sprinkle ½ cup of nut meal in the Bundt pan, reserving 2 tbsp. for garnish after cake is cooked.

Whisk together flour, vanilla pudding mix, salt, and white and brown sugar in electric mixer bowl, being sure that all lumps are out of the brown sugar. Add soft butter and turn mixer to medium low for about 30 seconds until butter is incorporated. Scrape down bowl and beater and mix again on medium low for 10 seconds or until blended.

Add pineapple juice and eggs and beat with electric mixer on high for 1 minute. Scrape down bowl and beater. Beat another 1 minute.

Stir in drained pineapple, rum, and vanilla on low or by hand until blended.

Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, scraping mixing bowl with rubber spatula. Place pan in preheated oven and cook for about 50 – 55 minutes, until top is golden and cake tester comes out clean. Toothpicks are not reliable testers for Bundt cakes; they’re not long enough. Use a thin piece of spaghetti if you don’t have a cake tester.

When cake has cooked for about ½ hour, prepare glaze. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in water and white and brown sugars, plus about half of the rum (¼ cup + 2 tbsp.). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then cook until it thickens, about 5 – 6 minutes.  Cool to slightly warm and stir in the rest of the rum, a little at a time, and the vanilla. Put glaze into cup with spout.

When cake comes out of the oven, set pan on cooling rack. Immediately pour on about ¼ cup of the glaze (or a little less), distributing it across the cake, and let it sink in. When glaze has sunk in, pour on another ¼ cup. Continue in this manner until glaze is all gone, waiting about 5 minutes or so between pourings. You might need to reduce the amount poured each time towards the end. Don’t pour the glaze on all at once or cake will not absorb it.

Let cake cool completely, preferably overnight. Invert the cake onto cake plate and don’t reposition it; it’s delicate. If cake won’t come out of pan, place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes, then immediately invert on cake plate.

Sprinkle with reserved almond meal for a traditional rum cake look. Alternatively, you could sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle lightly with glaze made of ½ cup powdered sugar and 1 tbsp. rum. Pirate flags and silly message are optional.

Slice of Cake on Plate Facing Viewer
One Last Piece

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