Recipe from "Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented," by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito; photographs by Tina Rupp. Stewart, Tabori & Chang publishers, www.abramsbooks.com. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
For the Bundt cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cups unsalted butter (2 sticks) cut
into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Burnt sugar liquid (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray; alternatively, butter it thoroughly, dust it with flour and knock out the excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.
Add the vanilla and beat for 5 more seconds. Retrieve one of the reserved portions of burnt sugar liquid (see recipe below). Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the burnt sugar, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again for 10 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a small sharp knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto a rack.
For the burnt sugar liquid
cup granulated sugar
cup heavy cream
cup (approximately) coconut milk
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, slowly melt the sugar. Use a wooden spoon to stir it continuously to ensure even melting. When the sugar turns a dark caramel color, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stream in the cream while continuing to stir (don't worry if mixture starts to clump).
Return the pan to medium heat and stir until completely combined; cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring. Transfer the burnt caramel mixture to at least a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup (like Pyrex) and add enough coconut milk to make 1 cups liquid. Add the lemon juice. Whisk to combine, divide the mixture in half and set both portions aside.
For the caramel rum frosting
cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
Put the butter, rum, confectioners' sugar and remaining portion of burnt sugar liquid in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.
For the Caramel Shard Topping (optional)
cup granulated sugar
Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Add enough water (approximately 1 teaspoon) to make it the texture of wet sand. Cook on high heat until the sugar turns amber. Pour the caramel onto a half-sheet pan lined with a Silpat (or other silicone non-stick) baking mat. Let cool. Break the cooled caramel into small shards and use them to decorate the frosted cake.
To assemble the cake
Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the crown of the Bundt in a thick layer. Top with caramel shards, if you like. Let the frosting set before serving. The cake will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Yield: One 10-inch Bundt cake.
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