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Shabbos Specials: Italian Rum Cake

Yum
All right, here it is – your last chance to get rid of chametz before Passover, and this recipe is a doozie!
Not only will you be able to get rid of flour, this recipe uses corn syrup and rum! You’ve gotta love the Italians. Their food style isn’t really about this balance of ingredients that come together perfectly and create magic. Nope, they find really simple things they like and say “hey, we should combine all these together!” That’s pretty much what happened with this cake. I can imagine it now (in my best Buddy impersonation): “Sponge cake is boring, but rum is good, let’s soak the sponge cake with rum. Custard is also good, let’s layer it with custard. You know what I also like? Whipped cream. We should do something about that. You know what whipped cream reminds me of? An ice cream sundae, and a sundae ain’t a sundae without chopped nuts. So bang, I put some around the sides!”
I hope you are getting the picture here. This cake is essentially 4 different recipes, soaked with rum. One word of caution: the custard can be tricky. I recommend making the sponge cake and the custard the day before serving, then making the stabilized whipped cream and actually decorating the cake the day of.
ITALIAN SPONGE CAKE
(adapted from Diana Desserts)
Ingredients:
  • 5 egg yolks 
  • 5 egg whites 
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 1/4 cups pastry flour, sifted 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until lemon colored. Add flour, a little at a time, blending it in well. Add vanilla and lemon rind (if using it).

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into cake mixture.

Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and turn out of pans onto wire racks to cool completely.

ITALIAN PASTRY CREAM
(adapted from Diana Desserts)
Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups whole milk 
  • 1 tablespoon butter


Place sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon rind (if using), and vanilla in a saucepan and mix together well.

In a separate saucepan, scald milk. Very slowly pour milk over egg yolk mixture, in a thin stream, beating constantly with rotary beater. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches the boiling point. Cook 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat, add butter and mix well. Pour into bowl and let cool, stir occasionally to prevent skin from forming over the top.

Chill (with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming) until very thick (about 3-4 hours).  

CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM
(adapted from Diana Desserts)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups whole milk 
  • 2 ounces baking chocolate, grated 
  • 1 tablespoon butter


Place sugar, egg yolks flour, and vanilla in a saucepan and mix together well.

In a separate saucepan, scald milk. Very slowly pour milk over egg yolk mixture, in a thin stream, beating constantly with rotary beater. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches the boiling point. Cook 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Add chocolate and while stirring, cook 1 minute longer. Remove pan from heat, add butter and mix well. Pour into bowl and let cool, stir occasionally to prevent skin from forming over the top.

Chill (with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming) until very thick (about 3-4 hours).

STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM
(adapted from Diana Desserts)
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup 


In a large chilled bowl, with chilled beaters, beat cold cream until it just starts to thicken. Add corn syrup and vanilla from the side of the bowl, and beat until stiff peaks form.

ITALIAN RUM CAKE ASSEMBLY
Additional Ingredients:
  • Rum
  • Sliced blanched almonds
Combine 1/3 cup of rum with 1/3 cup of water.

Slice sponge cakes in half (horizontally) to form two layers. Using a long, thin bladed knife, cut/split each layer in half lengthwise making four thin layers.

Place bottom sponge layer on platter cut side up, sprinkle/brush with about 1/4 of the rum (be careful not to get the cake too wet, or layers will become soggy). Allow sprinkled/brushed rum to soak into the cake for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle/brush remaining sponge layers (on the cut side) evenly with remaining rum.

Spread a layer of vanilla pastry cream on the first sponge layer.

Top the vanilla cream layer with another layer of rum sprinkled sponge cake.

Spread a layer of stabilized whipped cream on the second sponge layer.

Top the whipped cream layer with another layer of rum sprinkled sponge cake.

Spread a layer of chocolate pastry cream on the third sponge layer.

Top the chocolate layer with the last layer of sponge cake.

Frost the top sponge cake layer and sides of cake with remaining stabilized whipped cream. Cover sides of cake with sliced almonds, or decorate as desired. Place cake in refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.

So there you go, a beautiful and delicious cake. It was a huge hit when I brought it to shul a few months ago. I have been asked several times to bring it again, but the cake is quite labor intensive, so I have not had an opportunity to do so. All in all, this cake is quite the high note to end your chametz consumption before we go into Passover!

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