Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mama Vogel's Rum Cake

Mama Vogel knows what it's all about. Liquor in desserts. Smart woman.

I have a long-term project (that I haven't yet started) of recreating the Italian Rum Cake from Sarno's Bakery in Los Angeles. My parents used to order their rum cake for special occasions and it is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. But, sadly, no longer available. So, I need to figure out how to make it myself. There are a whole lot of pieces to the puzzle that have to be figured out one at a time. Then I have to put the whole thing together. I probably won't start on that until January. In the meantime...I saw a college friend at a party in Berkeley in September and told him my rum cake woes. A good move on my part, as he has all sorts of sources for rum cake recipes. This one is from Mama Vogel. A woman I'd love to meet someday. Because of this:

I am happy to share the recipe but with the realization that everyone will see what a fraud I am. It is made with a cake mix and with little extra doctoring. Can't get much easier than this. I would tell your friend that anyone who thinks they have to make something from scratch is just wasting their time and money. I also will share the secret that I begin in September to watch the grocery store ads. When I see a 'buy one, get one free' attached to any of the yellow cake mixes from the better known brands, I begin my stockpiling of mixes. I bake them in batches of 8 and then make a big pot of the rum glaze. Just ask Michael what the house smells like when I have this fully underway. There are also many stories related to the cake -- like one school not allowing the teachers to sample the cake until all of the students had left the campus for the day or the nurse who frowned on anyone imbibing but Steve found her wiping the glaze from the plate with her fingers and promptly licking them clean.

She bakes these in batches of 8, folks. Multiple batches of 8, from the sound of it. I admire such a woman. I can bake, but I can't bake like that. That takes will and fortitude. And a boatload of rum!

And here, with Mama Vogel's permission, is this wonderful family recipe:

Mama Vogel's Rum Cake *click here for printable version*


1 cup chopped pecans
1 box yellow cake mix (with pudding in the mix)
3 eggs
1/2 or 1/3 cup oil (according to the directions on the box of cake mix you use)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup dark rum (80 proof)

Glaze (enough for two cakes):

1/4 pound butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark rum (80 proof)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease (use spray) and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts over the bottom of the pan.

Mix all cake ingredients together. Pour batter over the nuts and bake as directed on cake mix box (approximately 35-40 minutes). Cool and invert onto serving platter. Prick top and sides with fork.

Prepare glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Spoon and brush glaze evenly over the top and sides, allowing the cake to absorb the glaze. Repeat until the glaze is used up.

(literally dripping with glaze)

Yes, once again, I baked a cake that is essentially a dressed-up cake mix. Much like my Aunt Dorothy's beloved Wine Cake.

Which is exactly WHY I liked this recipe. I figured if I got such great results from that, why wouldn't it work just as well with rum?! This is a far cry from Sandra Lee--that, my friends, is a fraud.

At any rate, this cake is delicious. Rummy? Why, yes. Perfectly so. I love the pecans with the rum flavor. It's sort of spicy and warming and a little crunchy.

Yum. Mama Vogel apparently makes these for Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for her. She instructs further:

One secret I did forget to note on the recipe....... when putting the rum into the cake mix, I measure it kinda like a good bartender fills a shot glass...... pour it to the rim of the measuring cup and then keep pouring as you dump that into the mix. It probably gets about an extra quarter cup of rum when all is said and done and the secret to the extra moisture (and kick) in the final product.

THAT is a woman after my own heart. You are not a fraud, Mama. You are my hero.

TGIP Rating--Mama Vogel's Rum Cake--KEEPER! Rummy =Yummy.

Next up: Thanksgiving is almost here! I'm doing a trial run of this pie to see if it's good enough to make for my family.

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