Baking for Comfort

A large part of my passion, desire and love of baking is inherited from my grandmother or “Ma” as we affectionately called her.

She truly was the epitome of a strong woman. Having raised three children on her own on the small island of Trinidad (which is still classified as a third world country), my Ma never let anything get her down, or stop her from living her life. After moving to Canada she lived with my parents and I’m very grateful to have lived with her, to experience an unconditional love liker hers was an amazing experience.

As a child I used to “help” her in the kitchen; I use quotes because I’m still not sure to this day how my coloring and drawing in her recipe book was any help to her; but as I grew up and was able to take on more hands on duties I truly developed a love for baking and for caring and nurturing people the way Ma had done.

When she passed away I collected her recipes and used these to bake for my family in order to help them through her loss; I believe this helped me as well.

One of her favorite items to bake, and unarguably one of her top requested items among family and friends was Trinidad Rum Cake. Traditionally this is served as “Christmas Cake” or as the Cake at weddings.

                                                        

When prepared for Christmas the cake is typically baked 1 YEAR in advance – throughout the year the cake is stored in an air tight container, wrapped in cheesecloth, and soaked in Rum, Cheri, Red Wine and approximately 1 -2 times per month the alcohols are “topped up” and allowed to soak into the cake for an entire year.

When prepared as the Wedding cake there are two ways to prepare the cake:

1 – cut into squares and serve as is

2 – seal with apricot glaze and top with marzipan, top with fondant and decorate as a traditional cake.

The island of Trinidad is well known for it’s top notch rum production and I highly recommend finding a rum from Trinidad when baking this cake. Look for Angostura 1919 or Angostura 1824.

                                                                                                

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour, plus
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons strained fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

Coconut cream sauce

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups coconut cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons light rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. With a pastry brush spread 1 tblsp butter over bottom and sides of an 8″ spring-form cake pan.
  3. Sprinkle 2 tblsp flour into pan evenly.
  4. Remove excess flour.
  5. In a deep bowl cream remaining butter with sugar until mixture is light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in eggs- one at a time.
  7. Add rum, lime juice and zest.
  8. Continue beating until batter is smooth.
  9. Combine remaining flour, cornmeal and baking powder about ½ cup at a time, beating weell after each addition.
  10. Pour batter into the floured pan.
  11. Bake in middle of oven for approx 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
  12. Cool cake completely- remove from pan.
  13. Cake is traditionally served with Coconut Cream Sauce, or plain, or coated in marzipan.

Coconut cream sauce

  1. Combine sugar and water in a 2-3 quart pot.
  2. Bring to a boil over a moderate heat, stirring only until sugar dissolves.
  3. Increase heat and cook briskly uncovered and undisturbed until syrup reaches 230°F with candy thermometer or forms soft ball if dropped into cold water.
  4. Remove pan to reheat.
  5. Stirring constantly pour in coconut cream in a thin slow stream.
  6. Beat egg yolks until they are well blended.
  7. Stir about ¼ cup of hot syrup mixture into yolks, then beat mixture back into remaining syrup.
  8. Return pan to low heat and stir for 4–5 minutes until sauce has the consistency of heavy cream
  9. Off of the heat stir in vanilla and rum.
  10. Cover tightly and refrigerate the sauce for at least 2 hours or until it is thoroughly chilled.
  11. Serve with rum cake.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family in Trinidad – and I hope my memories of my Ma make you go home and call your grandma to say you love her!

~Antonia

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