The dust (or baking powder) was settling after Daisy's wedding cake and I found myself ansy for the next baking challenge. Thankfully, my co-worker Amanda approached me about making her boyfriend's birthday cake and I gladly accepted the job.
The only request was a rum cake, so I started researching various recipes and jotted some notes to spring me off in the process. I decided to do a banana ginger rum cake and wanted to decorate with fried plantains and candied thyme. I doubled everything I'm about to tell you because she requested a cake for about 30 or so.
In one bowl, mix 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, & a few shakes of salt.
In another bowl, mix 3/4 cup softly melted butter with 1 cup cane sugar & 1 cup brown sugar. I actually mixed it with my hands to really blend it together becuase I had no electric mixer.
I switched to a metal whisk and added 3 eggs, one at a time, making sure it was well mixed.
Add 1/4 cup milk ( I used vanilla almond milk because I avoid cow's milk as much as possible!), several pours of dark rum and a splash or two of vanilla. Beat, stir or whisk until smooth and blended and then begin mixing in alternate scoops of the flour mixture and 1 cup of sour cream. (You can obviously use vegan sour cream, butter and egg replacer to make this completely vegan!).
The recipe I based this off of asked for powdered ginger but I always prefer the real, fresh thing! I added a ton of ginger and heard no complaints about it later. I wasn't fully satisfied with the flavor yet, so I mushed up two ripe bananas with some almond butter & almond milk and blended this. I also added some cayenne, cinnamon and more salt to get a delicious and dynamic batter.
The batter was getting pretty thick, so I added some more rum for fun!
I decided to throw in some pecans in the bottom of each pan for a little crunch surprise!
I filled each baking pan half way with batter and then added some amazing ginger steusal. For this streusal, simply chop up a half cup or so of crystalized ginger, 2 tbls brown sugar and 1 tbls chilled butter and mix it with your hands in a small bowl. Really pinch it together to form little clumps, then spread over your batter.
I finished off the batter in each pan until smooth on top and popped in the oven at 350*. The original recipe said for 1 hour but all my cakes were down way before this. I was using several sizes and types of cake pans, so I just kept a look out and waited for the smell and a toothpick to tell me when they were ready.
As soon as they were done, I easily slid each cake out of their pans (because I had well-greased & dusted with flour beforehand), and used a fork to puncture several holes in the tops to pour my rum syrup into.
For the rum syrup, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1/4 cup dark rum in a small sauce pan, stirring until boiling. Then add 1 1/2 tbls of chopped up butter and stir until it has all melted together. Do this right before the cakes are done so you can go right to pouring it over them while they are warm.
Pour half of the syrup over the holes in your cakes and let it soak in. Save the rest for glazing the outside, plus a little for making the candied thyme.
I completely made up how to candy the thyme, and fortunately it worked great. I just boiled each sprig in the leftover rum syrup for a minute or two and dipped them into a bowl of sugar.
I laid them out to dry and the candied thyme result was not only beautiful for a garnish, but also shockingly delicious!
For my other garnish, I wanted to experiment with fried plantains on a cake.
I bought two spotted, semi-ripe plantains and cut them in long diagonal slices. I heated vegetable oil for several minutes and carefully (with tongs) placed the slices in the oil for a minute or two on each side, until they began to turn bright yellow and gold. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet on their sides and let them dry for a bit, before placing them in a bowl of cold water with some chopped up garlic and salt in it. I soaked the plaintains in the water for about a minute, dryed them off with a towel, and placed them back into the hot oil. This time I fried them for a few minutes on each side until they turned golden brown.
Sprinkle them with sea salt and they are good to go!
I peeled some pomegrantes because I thought the seeds would be the perfect final touch with my yellow and green, and I went into the decorating zone with my extra glaze, thyme, & plantians!
Although the plantains where delicious when I made them and gorgeous as a garnish, the cake was not served until almost 8 hours later and they had dried out and become quite bitter by then. If you are going to decorate with plantains on your own cake, make sure it will be served and eaten right away!