Smackdown: Three Sheets To The Wind

sliced slice

Getting drunk AND eating cake? It’s the best of all possible desserts!

dry ingredients

Of course it is, because it’s a David Lebovitz dessert: Bahamian rum cake from Ready for Dessert. David is already my ice cream guru, so why not also a rum cake guru? Not a bad title to have.

I was having trouble deciding whether to make brownies (easier and quicker but not so exciting) or rum cake (longer and more involved but filled with liquor), so I turned to my Facebookers. My Facebookers are a greedy bunch who would not deign to answer my question, instead agitating for rum brownies. Gluttons.

I decided to leave the rum brownies to David and went with the rum cake (thank you, Jane, for being decisive!).


The batter was a pretty standard affair: cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then alternate wet and dry ingredients until smooth batterage is achieved. In this case, the “wet” was coconut milk, producing a rich, delicately scented, pale yellow batter. It also tasted good, which I might know because I accidentally on purpose left a lot of batter clinging to the mixing bowl that had to be eaten.

The most trying part of the whole thing was probably preparing the bundt pan for the batter. Buttering and flouring pans is my most hated step in baking, and trying to evenly flour the inside of a bundt pan is a DAMN NIGHTMARE. And that is NOT hyperbole.

bundt batter

Into the oven it went, because the weather was only in the mid-80s today so it was high time to crank up the range.


Toward the end of the baking time, I threw together the rum syrup in which the finished cake would soak: sugar, coconut milk, apply heat, whisk whisk whisk, add rum.

The liquor store only had big bottles of dark rum, so I guess I’ll be making a lot of rum cake from now on. There are worse problems to have.

three sheets to the wind

The cake came out about an hour and ten minutes after going in, beautifully risen and browned, and I poked it full of holes to welcome the coconut-rum syrup. I must confess that I strayed from the directions a bit, which instructed me to poke approximately 60 holes; I got a little poke-happy and went closer to 80.

I think it’s completely adorable that the number of pokes was specified, because who counts the pokes? David Lebovitz, that’s who. Which makes him a man after my own heart, because that’s totally the kind of thing I would do. I once spent an hour of my life figuring out exactly how many licks it DOES take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop

It’s 957, by the way. That owl was a fucking liar. Never trust a talking bird.


I turned the cooled cake out – I’d been afeared that the syrup would cause it to stick to the pan, but it fell out easily with a satisfying plop – and doused it with the remaining rum-coconut mixture.

I managed to wait entire nanoseconds for the syrup to sink in before I cut into it.

The recipe also includes an optional coconutty glaze, but David gives permission to omit it if it’s bathing suit season. Which it conveniently is, giving a nice out to people like myself who are too lazy to do it and don’t give two shits about bathing suit season.

a slice

The cake was golden, with a perfect crumb and a subtle coconut flavor. If I may voice a small complaint (and you have no idea how loathe I am to complain about a David Lebovitz recipe), it’s lack of rum. Some bites were moistly redolent with it, others had the merest hint.

This may have been my fault for not waiting long enough for the rum to fully soak in. Yes, it was probably my fault. David Lebovitz is blameless.

Is it wrong to eat rum cake for breakfast? Because I’m gonna.

15 thoughts on “Smackdown: Three Sheets To The Wind

  1. I am not a big fan of cooking spray, but that Joy baking spray with flour is a godsend when you are making a bundt cake. It makes life so much easier! You just spray the pan with it and it is greased and floured all at once. I know there are other brands out there as well which would probably do the trick.

  2. It was 40 years ago that I took a standard sized tootsie pop and licked to the middle, using broad wet licks from the back of my extended tongue to the tip, each one as similar as I could make it. It took exactly 750 licks (yes, on the same spot on the same side) to reveal the chocolaty caramel goodness. I never ate another one.

    What works for me is: Rub the butter on the bundt pan, drop a half-cup of flour in the pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap and shake like crazy. as violently as possible. while screaming. Uncover and dump the extra flour into the sink.

    That baking spray with flour works too and you don’t end up looking like you’re having a conniption fit in the middle of the kitchen.

  3. Another delicious desert use for dark rum: chocolate pecan pie, preferably served with whipped cream that is also flavored with the rum. If that sounds like it would be up your alley, I can type up the recipe.

  4. Maybe it’s just a “duuh” idea, but 80 degrees + lots of rum = frozen daiquiri time! I know, dark rum, not so pretty in drinks, but use dark fruit like blackberries or something, and really, you won’t care once you start drinking. Or you could make a dark chocolate-banana-rum ice cream with your schmancy ice cream maker (of which I am not jealous AT ALL. Of course not).

    And damn, @FoodGardenKitchen took my suggestion of how to flour the bundt pan. I actually have fun with that one. I don’t dump it into the sink though; when finished, I clunk the pan so that the excess flour falls on the plastic wrap, set the pan on the counter so that the plastic wrap is against the counter, wait a minute, remove the pan, then wrap the flour in the plastic & dispose. Ta-dah.

    Also, I just realized how hard it is to describe up & down concisely with respect to a bundt pan that may be up or down, depending on the cake’s status, where there are openings are each end, and where everything is curved. How would you do this?

  5. for buttering a bundt, i generally stick my hand inside a plastic baggie, grab some butter and rub. (sounds suggestive!) but it keeps my hand out of the butter but makes sure that everything’s well/evenly coated. and then it’s easy to throw away.

  6. Melted butter and a silicone basting brush=easily buttered pan. I managed a Williams-Sonoma for years, and despite the expensive cake-pan-flouring spray they sold, that’s always what we did. Also, try “flouring” the pan with cocoa powder. Mmmmm. On a coconut rum cake? Hell, yes!

  7. jodi, good to have someone to vouch for that stuff. i might give it a try (although FGK’s method sounds like more fun, i must say).

    FGK and cayenne, that? is an awesome method, and one that i will be employing for future bundts.

    niki, recipe, please! you can’t just mention something like that and NOT tell us how to make it.

    sabrina and lizz, it’s not the greasing that gets me, it’s the flouring. trying to get the center tube coated always results in an ineffective flourstorm. thanks for your tips, though!

  8. Simple solution to the problem of the rum syrup not having time to sink in: bake two cakes! Eat one immediately, and store the other to allow the syrup to sink in. Of course, add extra syrup to the second one, just in case the problem is insufficient syrup. Just in case. Can’t be too careful about the rum content.

  9. “Into the oven it went, because the weather was only in the mid-80s today so it was high time to crank up the range.”

    Delurking to say, this is EXACTLY how I feel about cooking in the summer. As soon as the thermometer drops below 90, it’s “oh goodie! time to make pasta sauce/gingersnaps/whatever!” And as a fellow New Jerseyan, I feel you on this heat wave BS. I dream of a kitchen with central air.

  10. melissa, i want to make pretty much everything in it.

    tina, so simple, so genius.

    christie, you soak the cake with rum after it comes out of the oven, so i’d say it’s not safe for moms-to-be. (btw, congrats!)

    , it’s fine on the weekends, when there’s time to grill and relax in the in-laws’ pool. but during the week? stay in the 80s, please.

  11. was it good and wet? because it looks a bit dry? is that where the lack of rum comes in? cause i love a really rummy moist wet rum cake…mmm

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