Liqueurs have a prominent place in my kitchen. They bring a je ne se quoi to the final equation. A hint. They disappear but leave behind a faint but clear flavor. They complement the rest of the ingredients in a subtle way that is not always achieved by other extracts or flavorings. J´adore using different liqueurs when baking (what´s with the french words anyway?). They enhance and deepen flavors. Of course there´s a wide variety and each one brings different results to the table, but, all in all, I´d rather use booze than extracts; except for vanilla of course, the queen of them all. But then, take a bottle of vodka, stuff it with a dozen vanilla pods and you have the best vanilla extract. I rest my case.
I first tasted rum while making a recipe for chocolate mousse from the first cookbook I ever bought. It was an unforgettable combination. Chocolate chip cookies made with some Frangelico are the best I have probably tasted. The rum in this cake won´t blow your hat, but it delivers a sweet somewhat spicy aftertaste. The texture is light and moist, courtesy of the egg whites. I thought about brushing some rum over it while still hot, but decided to stick to the recipe. There´s always a next time and it will definitely include a pastry brush and a bottle of rum. Or Cointreau. Or Grand Marnier. There we go with the french again.
ORANGE RUM CAKE
from The Joy of Baking, by Barbara Grunes
2 2/3 cups cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2/3 cup butter, at room tº
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
¾ cup orange juice
1/3 cup rum
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Grease a 10-inch (28cm) tube pan.
Sift together first 5 ingredients twice. Set aside.
Cream butter in large bowl until fluffy. Sprinkle sugar over butter and beat well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in orange zest. Add flour mixture to butter in three times alternating with orange juice and rum. Blend well. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Beat whites until stiff and gently fold into batter in two additions.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes; loosen edges with knife. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
Sprinkle with confectioners´ sugar before serving.
Makes 12 servings.