Back from Bermuda

May 30, 2008

As I mentioned yesterday, we’re fresh off a long weekend in Bermuda. We were there for a wedding and we had a fantastic time. It was one part rowdy fun with our college friends and one part complete and total beach relaxation. We managed to tear ourselves away from said carousing and said lounging only long enough to snap a couple photos and enjoy the Bermudian cuisine.

We quickly learned that rum is a staple not only of the Bermuda, shall we say, liquid diet, but the regular diet as well. It’s prominently featured in the ubiquitous Bermuda Fish Chowder, a sultry, meaty stew that’s unexpectedly dark and sweet and altogether delicious. And it also laces the island’s popular rum cakes.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

Or so I heard. You see, we—unlike many of the other wedding guests—never sampled the rum cake. We checked into the hotel a bit later than most of the other guests so we weren’t given our welcome bags prepared by the bride and groom. We later heard that the bags contained a rum cake and we kept meaning to check with the front desk to claim our bag. But inevitably, we’d find ourselves transfixed by the surf’s rhythmic slurp at the beach or deeply engrossed in a game of 500 with our friends Matt and Maggie.

One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, we were in a cab on our way to the airport, sad to leave the rolling, plush green landscape, the sloooower pace and the completely charming local fashions (I was skeptical about the Bermuda shorts and knee socks look, but I must say that the look won me over) and accents (not the pool, but the pewl; not Bermuda, but Bermew-dah). We were also very much without the welcome bag and its rum cake, about which all our friends had raved and raved. I shrugged it off, assuring myself that I’d simply make my own when we returned home.

Well, I spent our three-hour layover at JFK looking for recipes on Kevin’s iPhone. And let me tell you: there is a real dearth of rum cake recipes on the Internets. I finally found a promising one and gave it a substantial overhaul. I shot it through with ginger, for one, in a nod to the island’s signature drink: the Dark & Stormy (dark rum and ginger beer). I also ensured it’d be dense, giving it a hefty dose of sour cream, and moist, bathing it with a double soak of a boozy rum glaze. I have absolutely no idea if it approximated the Bermudian version, but we loved it. And we loved that it let us pretend we were still in paradise.

Ginger Rum Cake

For the Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup reduced fat sour cream

For the Ginger Streusel:
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut in small pieces

For the Rum Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a bundt ban.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger in a large bowl. Place butter and brown and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, 3 tablespoons rum, and vanilla; beat until combined. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat until just combined.

To make the streusel, combine the crystallized ginger, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon chilled and cut butter in a small bowl, using your finger tips to blend. The mixture should form pea-sized clumps.

Spoon half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the batter. Carefully cover the streusel with the remaining batter, smoothing the top.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Place a plate upside down on top of cake; invert onto plate. Invert cake again. Pierce cake liberally with a wooden pick.

While cake bakes, prepare glaze. Combine powdered sugar and 1/4 cup rum in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, stirring until butter melts. Drizzle half of warm glaze evenly over warm cake; allow mixture to absorb into cake. Drizzle remaining glaze over cake. Cool cake completely.

Recipe loosely based on this one.

7 Responses to “Back from Bermuda”

  1. RecipeGirl Says:

    Looks like you had a really nice time! I have to say that I’ve never really sampled many liquored up cakes as an adult. I didn’t care for them as a kid (of course) so I think it’s time to give them another shot!

  2. Bonnie Says:

    Those photos are stunning ! I remember as a kid, my parents left us with a babysitter and went to Bermuda for a week ! Since then, I’ve always loved the idea of going to Bermuda …


  3. Wow, that looks so yummy! The vacation doesn’t look half-bad either!

  4. Andy Biggins Says:

    Hmm nice photos. Funny thing is, baking is therapeutic. I love it! I’ll try it one of these days!

  5. Jen Says:

    There is a cup of brown sugar in the list of cake ingredients, but it is not listed in the instructions. I’m making the cake right now, and will add the sugar. Hopefully it’s not a typo…


  6. Jen: It’s not a typo. 2 cups of sugar total (1 cup granulated; 1 cup brown sugar). Sorry about that! Hope you like the cake.

  7. Jen Says:

    It’s in the oven and smells great. Just making the glaze now. Thanks for the reply!🙂


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