OLD FASHIONED ITALIAN RUM CAKE

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Italian rum cake


This Italian rum cake is just layer after layer of flavor. I love that the sponge cake layers are soaked in rum. And you can really taste it through the whole cake. It’s in the sponge layers, it’s in the cream, and that cream, I’m telling you, it’s like a custard mascarpone cream with the egg yolks. So flavorful.

If you want more holiday-worthy desserts, check out some of our favorites and reader favorites here:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 eggs (at room temperature for at least 2 hours)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour) sifted (see note below)
  • Pinch salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 ) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rack on the second from the lowest slot.
Grease and flour an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan or springform pan. (I do not use baking spray for this cake.)

2 ) Using the whisk attachment from the stand mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and sugar on high speed for about 10 minutes, even 15 minutes is acceptable, until very airy and pale. While the eggs are whipping, sift the flour and salt in a separate bowl.

3 ) Using a rubber spatula, very slowly and gently fold in the flour + salt into the beaten eggs, paying close attention so as not to deflate the batter. Mix in 3 – 4 separate times, do not add all the flour at once. Mix just until all the flour is incorporated, but do not over mix.

4 ) Pour the mixture into the buttered and floured pan and bake for about 33 – 35 minutes, or until the cake is slightly golden and springs back when lightly pressed.
Let the cake cool for 30 or so minutes, then remove from pan until ready to assemble.
Vanilla Pastry Cream.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 ) Add the milk and vanilla to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges.

2 ) With the whisk attachment of the stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow, about 5 – 7 minutes on high speed. Sift the cornstarch and salt and continue to whisk until incorporated.

3 ) Reduce the speed to low and gently pour about a half cup of the hot milk over the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Gently add the remaining milk and whisk to combine.

4 ) Return the cream mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly with a hand whisk, until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency.

5 ) Remove from the heat and add to a bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of cream. Refrigerate fully for at least 2 hours before using the cream for the cake.
Chocolate Pastry Cream.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I use Lindt or Ghirardelli, 60-70% cacao)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 ) Add the milk, vanilla, and chocolate to a medium saucepan and place over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Mix with a hand whisk to assure chocolate is fully melted.

2 ) With the whisk attachment of the stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow, about 5 – 7 minutes on high speed. Sift the cornstarch and salt and continue to whisk until incorporated.

3 ) Reduce the speed to low and gently pour about a half cup of the hot milk over the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Gently add the remaining milk and whisk to combine.

4 ) Return the cream mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly with a hand whisk, until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
Remove from the heat and add to a bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of cream.

5 ) Refrigerate fully for at least 2 hours before using the cream for the cake.
Whipped Cream (Stabilized for frosting cake)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (sifted)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 ) Using the whisk attachment of the stand mixer, on medium speed, beat the whipping cream until very soft peaks form.

2 ) Reduce speed and slowly add the sugar and mix for about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla

3 ) Add the sifted cornstarch and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate cream until cake is ready to be frosted.

Italian rum cake



RUM SOAK:

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup light or dark rum
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Mix with a fork or small hand whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, place in a bowl or mug, and cool before using.

Other ingredients

  • Slivered almonds or peanuts
  • Cake decorations of your choice

ASSEMBLING:

1 ) After the Pan di Spagna has cooled, carefully divide it in 3 layers. Using a long, thin-bladed knife helps the process. (If you have 3 8-inch cake pans, you could divide the batter into the 3 pans and bake 3 thin cakes, but honestly, I’ve always just baked one and after some practice, have been able to divide it in 3 layers.) Place the bottom layer on a serving platter, cut side up.

2 ) With a pastry brush, brush the bottom sponge of the cake with the rum soak until the cake is well moistened but not soaked. You will end up using about one-third of the soak.

3 ) Add one of the cooled creams (either chocolate or vanilla) to the cake and spread to the edges using the back of a spoon, or preferably a small offset spatula.

4 ) Add the middle layer of the cake on top of the cream and once again, using a pastry brush, moisten the second layer with the rum soak, paying close attention again that it’s well moistened but not soaked or it will break apart.

5 ) Add the other pastry cream and once again spread to the edges.
On the cut side of the last remaining piece of cake, add the remaining rum mixture until moistened but not soaked. (It’s important to not over soak the last piece or you will have a hard time picking it up and placing it over the cream as it might break.)

6 ) Frost all sides of the cake with the stabilized whipped cream. Add the slivered almonds or peanuts to the sides of the cake. Decorate the top of the cake with additional whipped cream rosettes, candied cherries, fresh berries or any way you wish.

 

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST ITALIAN RUM CAKE EVER:

Everything should be cooled completely before assembling. You can prep everything the day before and assemble it the next day.
Do not over mix the whipping cream, or you will end with butter.

The cake does not have any baking powder; the height comes from having whipped the eggs fully, so be sure to not undermix the eggs.

You can use all-purpose flour for this cake if that is all you have on hand. I suggest sifting it twice. The cake will be a bit denser than if cake flour is used.
If you have access to vanilla bean paste, I prefer it to extract as you can see the vanilla beans in the vanilla cream and the cake.

If the cream is lumpy, remove it from the heat and strain with a sieve.

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