Try this easy French rum cake recipe when you want to serve just a little elegant something, perhaps at tea time with a good friend. Along with rum, it includes salted butter and ground almonds which give it a rich, dense crumb that slices beautifully.
The City of Nantes
This cake, known as gâteau nantais, originated in the city of Nantes in the north west of France. Nantes is just a few kilometers down river from the Atlantic seaboard and has been a thriving city for many centuries. Amongst other notable facts, it is home to the the Lu cookie company, makers of several world famous French cookies.
Because of its coastal position, Nantes was at one time first in line to receive the rum that was being exported from Martinique and other French interests in the Caribbean. The abundance of this fiery sugar distillate must have inspired more than one chef, but it is this particular recipe which has stuck through the years.
The rum cake recipe also calls for salted butter which is fairly unusual for a French cake recipe. However, Nantes is the historical center of Brittany which boasts a thriving dairy industry and where you are likely to find salted butter used in desserts.
1/2 cup softened salted butter (plus a little more for the pan)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons rum
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cake pan.
In a large mixing bowl use a wooden spoon to beat the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the ground almonds and vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Finally stir in the flour, just until the batter is completely blended.
Pour and scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through in the center.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for just five minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Immediately pour the 1/4 cup of rum evenly over the top. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.
To make the icing, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of rum with 1 tablespoon of water and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Pour the icing onto the cooled cake and spread it evenly over the top, allowing some to icing to spread down the sides.
Refrigerate the cake until the icing firms up, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap and continue refrigerating. This cake gets better as it sits, so it can be made a day ahead if you wish.
France governs several overseas territories that produce rum, including Martinique, Guadalupe, and French Guiana. In general this rum is made from sugar cane juice (rather than syrup or molasses, which is the case for some rums) .
If you wish to be sure you are buying a quality French rum, look for a label that is marked with an AOP (appellation d'origine controlée) Martinique. This is a guarantee that the rum is made according to strictly controlled guidelines resulting in a superior product.< />