Happy New Year 2015!
As the old saying goes, if you've had a bit too many alcoholic libations the night before, it may be "the hair of the dog that bit you" that brings you back around on the road to recovery from that hangover you're experiencing. Baked had this witty urban legend in mind when they chose New Year's Day as the holiday in Baked Occasions to spotlight their Hair of the Dog Cake - aka, Rum-Flavored Hot Milk Cake with Broiled Rum Brown Sugar Frosting. Appropriately, it is also this week's selection for Baked Sunday Mornings.
If you like booze-soaked cakes (I certainly do), this is a great pick for you. While I'm not a huge fan of rum, I am partial to dark rum in some recipes, and this cake is definitely a good vehicle for it. Traditionally, a hot milk cake is an old-fashioned cake in which warm milk is added to a whipped egg and sugar mixture. The result is somewhat similar to a classic sponge; slightly denser but with a light crumb. Baked's cake comes together fairly easily and, if you beat your dry ingredients just until they are incorporated with the whipped egg mixture, then gently add the warmed butter and milk without too much over-beating, you will get the soft and sponge-like texture you are aiming for. In other words, shoot for delicate handling with this cake batter from the addition of the dry ingredients onward. A healthy dose of rum and vanilla extract flavor the cake.
The cake, once baked, is topped with - you guessed it - even more rum, mixed with melted butter brown sugar, and heavy cream. Calling this a "frosting" seems like a bit of a misnomer, as it's more the consistency of a sticky glaze. Once it is poured over the cake, and the whole lot is set to bubbling under the broiler of your oven - there's some yummy alchemy going on there. This "broiled" effect creates a flavorful, crackly-topped finish to the cake that is irresistible. Top servings of this cake with some - yes - rum-spiked whipped cream and you have a dessert that is simple, but impressive enough to toss together for an impromptu, fun dinner party among friends (oops... adult, of-age friends, that is). It's not a cake to win any cake beauty pageants, but it still can be made quite elegant.
I did a few things differently from the recipe: first, I cut the recipe in half (a 9 x 13-size cake felt like a little too much after all of our holiday sugar excess), and baked it in a round 8" cake pan. This yielded about 8 decent, wedge-sized servings. I also removed the cake from the pan and poured the glaze on top, letting it drip lazily down the sides before popping the cake under the broiler. As a result, it may have seemed I lost a good amount of that delicious glaze, but it did soak into the sides and bottom of the rum sponge, so it wasn't completely wasted. The recipe advises leaving the cake in the pan. I would imagine if you do so, you will not lose as much of the rum brown sugar glaze and therefore have a thicker layer of that broiled goodness on top... which can't be bad, right?
If you're a teetolater of sorts (I won't judge) and wish to leave the booze out - by all means, do so, as this makes a really nice cake. (I wouldn't advise it though, because that rum makes it pretty damn good.) One final note: this cake is really best eaten within a couple days, as the moisture from the cake tends to soften the broiled topping. However, the flavor of the cake - much like a pound cake - does deepen after a day or so.
Hangover or no, try your own Hair of the Dog Cake by clicking on the name in this sentence for the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings. And while you're at it, please check out how my fellow bakers fared with their cakes at Leave Your Links: Hair of the Dog Cake.
In the meantime, here's to a fabulous start to 2015 - and I wish all of you the very, very best for this glorious new year! Here's to lots of happy baking ahead!