My Thanksgiving Dessert

November 29, 2010

Whew.  That was a busy weekend.  We hosted Thanksgiving for 16 adults and 4 children on Thursday.  We hosted 10 kids and 24 adults for dinner on Friday to celebrate Graham’s birthday.  We went to a brunch on Saturday morning and the boys went to a birthday party on Saturday night while Randy and I went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  And Sunday, we rode the Christmas train and got a tree.  Overall, my plan is to never eat again.

There are food bloggers who are ultra-organized and who test recipes ahead of time so they can tell you what to put on your Thanksgiving table.  I am not one of those people.  I am also not one of those people who will pull out my camera at a table of ten to take a picture of my stuffing, no matter how good it was.  (It was really good.)  So, I offer you a cake I made for the big feast and I took pictures of it before and after the dinner.  You can make it for Thanksgiving next year or make it for Christmas this year or make it for Tuesday because it’s really special.

Sometimes you just want cake.  Not plain but not fussy.  I’ve written several times about that generalized craving that I sometimes get.  Because there is icing here, you might think it’s fancy.  But it’s not and I mean that in the best way.  The cake is perfectly moist and rich but with a gentle flavor.  All by itself it might be a little too boring for me.  But the rum spiked frosting makes it a much more interesting (and much more delicious) cake.

One tip.  Do not attempt to make the frosting and then frost the cake after you have had wine with your dinner.  My frosting, while delicious, did not have quite the right consistency and I did not frost it as decoratively as I would have liked.  Had I been more, ahem, sober, I would have added more powdered sugar to the frosting to make it thicker.  As per usual with my perfectly delicious but less-than-perfect-looking desserts, no one seemed to care.

One Year Ago: Endive Spears with Manchego and Membrillo
Two Years Ago: Broccoli Rabe, Radicchio, and Carrot Salad

Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake
Baked Explorations
Serves 12-16

For the Burnt Sugar Liquid
½ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
Approximately ¾ cup coconut milk
1½ tbsp. lemon juice

For the Bundt Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1¼ cups unsalted butter (2½ sticks), cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Burnt Sugar Liquid (see above)

For the Caramel Rum Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp. dark rum
2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Burnt Sugar Liquid (see above)

Make the Burnt Sugar Liquid
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 1¼ cups liquid.  Add the lemon juice.  Whisk to combine, divide the mixture in half, and set both portions aside.

Make the Bundt Cake
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick 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, beat until each is incorporated.  Add the vanilla and beat for 5 more seconds.

Retrieve one of the reserved portions of burnt sugar liquid.  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 wire rack to cool completely.  Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.

Make the Caramel Rum Frosting
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.

Assemble the Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake
Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the crown of the cake in a thick layer.  Let the frosting set before serving.  The cake will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.


  1. Dana, this looks amazing and despite your worries about the frosting, I think it looks great! It actually looks like the snow we had for one day last week which seems very wintery and appropriate. I so want that new Baked cookbook and it will be going on my xmas wish list. And I’ll be bookmarking this cake so I cane make it for Christmas day.

    Comment by kickpleat — November 29, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

  2. I also think this cake looks great! I think it will be perfect for our xmas party in a few weeks! I don’t know how you made it through your weekend, sounds a bit exhausting, but fun nonetheless! Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

    Comment by Eva — November 29, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

  3. You and I think so alike so much of the time! Although I totally halted the presses during dinner and hauled out my special lights to take pictures of my food. Everyone loved it though. Or thought I was crazy. Or both.

    I love the sound of this burnt sugar cake. I made a burnt sugar layer cake for Easter last year and it was good, but it did NOT have rum-spiked frosting. Which means it was not AS good. I’m so glad to hear you had a good Thanksgiving!

    Comment by Joanne — November 30, 2010 @ 12:50 am

  4. Burnt a cake…YUM!!!

    Comment by leslie — November 30, 2010 @ 2:06 am

  5. It was perfection! total moist, flavorful deliciousness. Zack adds his agreement.

    Comment by Julie — November 30, 2010 @ 7:07 am

  6. Oh Dana!
    The cake looks divine!
    Burnt Sugar…oh yeah!
    And rum….sounds very old~timey and delish!
    My favorite thing about this lovely cake is how you frosted it!
    I love that THICK~WHITE frosting piled up on top!
    And I adore your china!

    Comment by teresa — November 30, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  7. Cracking up about the wine-laced frosting prep! :) Love it and it WAS beautiful!

    Comment by Lindsey — December 1, 2010 @ 7:00 am

  8. That’s a lot of people to host. What a gorgeous dessert.

    Comment by Helene — December 1, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  9. Agh I really need that Baked Explorations cookbook!! :)

    Comment by Ashley — February 3, 2011 @ 1:50 am

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