It's been a big month: I published my first real article in Edible Sacramento; painted our house turquoise; launched a Facebook page for Enchanted Fig; got sick twice; bought an enormous bottle of rum in anticipation of days like this; baked three versions of pear frangipane tart and lost my mind in the process; and realized a day or two late that somehow, miraculously, Eden turned three months old.
Since she was conceived we've been cheering ourselves on. We can do this! We've been chanting the milestones of postpartum life like a mantra: first three weeks is chaos; first three months is adjustment; and after that is equilibrium. Or, that's the hope.
I haven't a clue as to where I read this timeline, but it sounded good and hopeful, and despite the ups and downs it's proved to be more or less true.
It's been a big month, and it's been a big year. I've been remembering: I helped butcher my first chicken; learned to play; moved in; played with flowers again and again and again; experienced both death and life; made some really tall cakes and some really humble cakes; and got very ready to have a certain baby.
I feel like I'm on the other side of the proverbial lake now, like I've been attempting a lovely, f**king long swim across a stunning, f**king cold lake, and I just crawled out of the water. I'm sitting on the pebbled shore soaking wet in my swimsuit. I sit wide eyed and panting. I am bone-aching tired, but more than that--I'm stunned. I keep look down at my arms. They feel like they're still pushing water. When I was a kid I'd jump on a trampoline too much and lie down at night and I could still feel my body, jumping. That's what it feels like, only, I'm not jumping and I'm not swimming either. I'm sitting here on the shore talking to you. See? I've even caught my breath enough to talk.
I'm in awe. We made it. Let's celebrate.
Rum Cake (adapted from Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes)
I thought maybe the booze would mean this would not make a good morning edible, but I was wrong. A night's mellowing all but evaporates the alcohol content--if that is possible). Unless I was so wonky from waking up too early that I didn't notice the difference. Regardless, next time I will double the glaze as I thought the top could have handled more.
And because I like a good cake description: This cake is soft but well structured, on the moist side and crumb-y like only buttermilk can produce, and yet surprisingly spring-y as well. Julia suggests it as an upgrade from shortcake--a vehicle for berries and cream. I could also see this as a non-summer cream and fruit cake, with brown sugared bananas or caramelized apples. Let me know if you try something that really works.
3 cups All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup dark spiced rum
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup dark spiced rum
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10-cup-equivalent bundt-type pan. I used two smaller fluted pans, one with a hole in the center and one without. They worked fine.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugars and cream together until light and airy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the rum and buttermilk in a small bowl or glass measure. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts, alternating with buttermilk mixture so that you begin and end with the flour. Stir until just barely combined. If I've used a stand mixer for this I like to take the bowl off and stir by hand for the final addition of flour.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top(s). Slide the pan(s) into the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed lightly, about 40-50 minutes (even for the small pans).
Prepare the glaze: combine the butter, sugar and rum in a small saucepan and heat over a low flame just until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolves.
Remove the cake from the oven and set it some place safe to work with and cool. With the cake still in the pan poke a lot of holes all over the cake's surface using a skewer. Pour three-quarters of the glaze very slowly over the holed up cake. Let the cake sit and cool and soak for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a cake plate, glaze surface down. Brush the top with the remaining glaze. Eat whenever you want, but do not refrigerate. Enjoy!