Celebration rum torte

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Perfect for a summer party, this is a rather deceptive dessert – it looks like a substantial four-layer iced cake, but it’s very light indeed, and slightly tipsy as it’s subtly flavoured with rum.

Some of the recipes in this bakebook have an intro description that may explain the bake you’re about to do or offer some tips. This bake had the line above, which obviously sounds delicious (who doesn’t love a light, tipsy cake?). But then it says this:

There is quite a lot of work here, but all the elements can be made in stages, well in advance, and the assembled cake benefits from a few hours in the fridge.

Hence why I have not yet made this bake. When this is the opener (a.k.a., “Prepare to be exhausted”), I’m not really excited to get started. Also, for the past two years, I have been working from home, so I didn’t really want to make “one large dessert cake” for myself. Nor did I think this would be an appropriate cake to serve to my nieces and nephews. But I also really wanted to try it for myself, with real rum, not extract. So with only two puddings and desserts recipes left, I thought I’d be brave and do the more difficult of the two first, with a few modifications.

Actually, just one modification: the size.

I decided to make enough for myself and my mother. That way I don’t have to eat an entire cake by myself and I don’t have to deal with the ethical grey area of serving alcoholic cake to children. I looked at all the ingredients and since one section calls for 6 eggs and one section calls for 3 eggs, I thought it would be easier to do one-third of the recipe instead of one-half or even one-quarter.

Because this isn’t my first time making smaller portions of a bake, I thought it was about time I invested in a couple of things: a smaller saucepan and a smaller glass mixing bowl.

Spoiler alert: I really should have focused on investing in a new hand mixer.

You may remember that recently (okay, not recently, in March), I broke my whisk attachments. And I had a single attachment that I could use in the interim. I have tried looking for replacement attachments and it has not been successful, but I can’t bring myself to buy a new hand mixer, even though you can get pretty good sales, and it would be worth it because with the portions I make, I use the hand mixer more than the stand mixer. But alas, here I am again, with a single whisk attachment that I tell myself does just fine.

Two days ago, I got started on this bake by making the sponge layers, which involved whipping up two egg whites until soft peaks formed. (I triple-checked my maths on this one; and I’m saying “maths” instead of “math” because this is a British bake.) I then added some salt and half the sugar to make a light meringue, which I checked by doing the upside-down-bowl thing.

And then I grabbed one ENORMOUS navel orange (instead of two medium ones; this time the maths does not check out) and zested the whole thing and then juiced it.

Then I put the egg yolks, sugar, 1/3 teaspoon of zest and 2 tablespoons of juice in a separate bowl.

I cleaned my sad, single whisk attachment and whisked it up.

I then kept whisking on a low speed, gradually increasing the speed of the mixer, until the mixture became “very thick, light and mousse-like” with that telltale ribbon when I lifted the whisk from the bowl.

Then I folded.

Forever, until the day I die, I will think about Moira and David when I fold any ingredient into anything. I then folded in the (gluten-free) flour and the result was:

Isn’t it beautiful?

Now here the recipe says to “divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins and spread evenly” and I rebelled. Instead of two 20.5 cm deep sandwich tins, I went with four mini springform tins. My thinking was that instead of making two cakes that I had to cut in half, I could make four smaller cakes that would be existing halves.

If that makes sense.

It says to bake it for 25 minutes, but I started with 10 and checked periodically after that, and then forgot about it, sat down, jumped up, ran to the kitchen and took out the cakes.

In the meantime, I started on the crème pâtissière. I took out my new small pot that still had sticker residue on the bottom (thanks, HomeSense) and began heating the one-thirded amount of milk while I put together the one-thirded single yolk, sugar, cornflour (substitute: corn starch) and orange zest. With the scent of burning adhesive in the air, I poured the hot-but-not-boiling milk into the bowl, mixing constantly with a new wooden spoon (see? I’m buying myself so many new things, but not a new hand mixer) so as not to scramble the egg. Then I poured it back into the saucepan.

And I mixed and mixed and stirred and stirred and it thickened and became crème pâtissière (which I’m fairly certain is just a fancy way of saying “custard”).

And then I covered the crème pâtissière with clingfilm, put it in the fridge, and stored the cakes in airtight containers. Then I sat on the floor while my dog sat on his Hobbes stuffed animal on top of my feet to finish reading the novel I absolutely had to finish because it was at such a good part and I finished it and immediately turned to the first page to start again. (Thank you, Susanna Kearsley!)

*the next day*

Because this cake and all its ingredients require so much chilling time, the next morning, I got ready to assemble it. Or so I thought.

I had written out all the thirded measurements on a separate piece of paper and poured out whipping cream for the stage I thought I was at, but when I read closer, I realized I was a step ahead and needed less whipping cream, so I poured it from the bowl into my morning coffee and read things more closely.

I set the bowl of less whipping cream aside and got started instead on the rum syrup. Although, I later realized I did not read it correctly. I thought I was supposed to put the sugar, orange juice, water and rum into a small pan to simmer until the sugar dissolved, but in actual fact I was supposed to wait to add the rum after to keep all its alcoholic properties.

Oh well.

With that simmering, I went back to the whipping cream and whipped it. Then I whipped the crème pâtissière and added some more rum.

Then I folded the whipped cream into the now alcoholic crème pâtissière.

Then I covered that and put it in the fridge to chill. Again.

Then I took the syrup off the heat and let it cool.

I was supposed to put that in the fridge to chill after it cooled, but instead I went out with my dog and totally forgot about it.

*that evening*

I did some research of what a celebration rum torte is supposed to look like because this particular recipe is so long, there was no space in the book for a photo. I was also doing some eyeballing of each layer that I made and wondered, if I stacked them with syrup and essentially custard and covered it in whipped cream, how quickly would it topple over in disaster?

So instead of having each piece be its own layer, I did decide to halve them and make two small cakes.

Every cut side had to be brushed with the rum syrup.

And then I was supposed to layer them with rum-filled, whipped-cream-folded crème pâtissière.

The end goal, if I understood it correctly, is: cake; rum syrup; rum-filled, whipped-cream-folded crème pâtissière; rum syrup; cake; rum syrup; rum-filled, whipped-cream-folded crème pâtissière; rum syrup; cake; rum syrup; rum-filled, whipped-cream-folded crème pâtissière; rum syrup; cake; rum syrup.

Voilà!

And then I put that back into the fridge to chill overnight. There was leftover rum-filled, whipped-cream-folded crème pâtissière, so once again I sat on the floor, my dog sat on me, and I had a little treat, of which he had none.

*the next morning*

I’m glad I chose to tackle this bake on a long weekend because it is now the third day and I’m still dealing with this ridiculousness.

This morning, I poured the now correct amount of whipping cream into a bowl and got whipping. I then added sugar and more rum.

Maybe it’s a good thing I boiled off the alcohol in the rum syrup.

I then covered both mini cakes with this sugary, rummy whipped cream and popped it back into the fridge (ugh, really?) for at least an hour, or up to 12 hours.

And then I used the sugary-rummy-whipped-cream-covered whisk attachment to stir my morning coffee, for a lil something extra to my day off.

*later that day*

I went to my mom’s house, got my dog out of the car, carefully lifted out the cake container, and then played with fire by balancing it on my leash-holding arm to close the car door. Optimistically, I told him to “stay” but he was too excited to see my mom and her dog.

When you play with fire, you get burned.

I should have known the risk was too great.

My mom was making us some afternooon coffee, so I cut one of the squished cakes in half (assuming we’ll split the second cake for dessert after dinner).

I took the squished side in the foreground.

And then I took a bite.

Oh. My. Word.

This cake is amazing. It is so tangy and zesty and moist and delicious. It actually is a perfect way to do gluten-free cake because there’s so much chilling with all the syrup and crème pâtissière and whipped cream on the outside that it doesn’t dry out like so many gluten-free cakes do. My decoration, as always, is the bare minimum but the sprinkled leftover orange zest added a little something something to this amazing torte.

This is very much in the “will make this again in larger quantities for more people” column. Depending on the people, I can easily do it rum extract or glutinous flour.

Seven recipes left.

  1. Biscuits and traybakes (1 left)
  2. Breads (1 left)
  3. Cakes (1 left)
  4. Sweet pastry and patisserie (2 left)
  5. Savoury bakes (1 left)
  6. Puddings and desserts (1 left)

Theoretically I could finish this bakebook in the next week.

Realistically it may take seven more months.

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