Last night we celebrated a double birthday of friends at Casa Jones, one for Jane and one for Linda. We ordered takeout from Sea Thai, a crowd favorite, and we were even able to sit outside! The ability to sit outside on a September night without melting or being eaten alive by mosquitoes, is actually a pretty major thing. We drank lots of gin, as we often do and watched the moon slowly creep up over roof line before we went inside for cake. On Thursday night I figured I'd make the cake layers so that when I got home on Friday, I would only have to make the filling and the frosting. I was thinking about the birthday cakes I used to have as a kid. Well, I always had two cakes, one made of rum from the Italian bakery, a family cake and the other for friends, an ice cream cake. I sort of wanted to create that rum cake again, I haven't had it in years. I was going to make my own version of it based on how I thought I could achieve it but then I started recipe searching. I don't know what came over me because I NEVER do this, but I stumbled across this old lady's blog and found a recipe I wanted to try. I was skeptical of the blog, judging it by the way it looked, but she had a ton of comments, all positive and her recipe for rum cake with custard filling looked exactly like what I was after. So there I was on Thursday night, after my MMA class and after my shower, like 8PM embarking on this very time consuming recipe for a rum cake I've never made before from a blog I didn't really trust. Foolish, I know. So I made the sponge layers, they were in the oven and smelling good. Then I made the rum syrup, seemed pretty solid. I was happy with how it was all coming together. Then I made the custard... this is where I started to lose faith in the old lady. I've made custards many times and this wasn't the way I was used to doing it. It was thin, very thin, but I trusted the old lady when she said it would thicken in the fridge. By the time I set the custard to chill, my cakes were starting to smell a little well done. I had been peeking through the oven door all along and my gut instinct was to pull them at 25 minutes when they were beginning to get their tan, but once again I listened to the old lady who stated 40 minutes to bake. "It's an old lady," I thought, "she looks so cute and seems so confident with this recipe, it has to work." Welp, she f*cked me over big time because when I pulled those cakes out, they had turned into giant hard cookies, like 9inch barely edible Frisbees. I threw them away. Cranky, sore from my workout and tired, I realized I sounded like Jesse from Breaking Bad as I cursed this recipe and the old lady. I poured myself a drink and at this point, like any cook, had to think on my feet. So I started to make a simple vanilla cake, the same vanilla base I've made for years, never fails me. I made two rounds and sealed them up for the next day. Nice and easy. When I got home from work yesterday, I pulled that old lady's custard from the fridge, giving her one last chance for redemption. Nothing, still soupy and flat. I tossed it. I whipped up my reliable standby, a buttercream center and a whipped cream frosting. I did use the rum syrup to brush on the cakes. It didn't taste overly rummy but I think it added a little something extra.
I made some special cards for the honorees, both of which I think depict their personal styles pretty spot on. Two very cool ladies as you might gather.
A fun Friday night with good food, good friends and good cake.
Breakfast this morning was coffee and a slice of cake. My cake, NOT the old lady's cake. I don't plan to visit the blog of the old lady ever again and honestly, I'm not even sure I could find it if I wanted to. She may not have fulfilled my childhood memories of an authentic Italian rum cake but she did leave me with an interesting story to tell. For that I thank her.