Baking with alcohol?
December 7, 2008 2:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a fantastic cupcake idea, but it involves baking with alcohol, which I'm not familiar with. Help!

What I'm going for is cupcakes that are a spice/rum cake with eggnog frosting (there will be a slight splash of rum in the frosting as well).

I know baking is a very careful chemistry, so I don't want to throw off the cake batter by just throwing a bit of rum into a spice cake. I also tried looking up rum cake recipes, most are NOT what I want (they either use pre-made yellow cake mix or call for a rum glaze to give it that rummy goodness). I want a rum spice cake from scratch, and preferably with rum in the batter.

So, my questions:

1) Does anyone have a from scratch spice-laden rum cake recipe?
2) Failing that, how does one compensate for alcohol added to a cake recipe?
3) Failing that, am I really just looking for a rum soak for the cupcakes?
4) Failing that, would a rum glaze + frosting be a sweetness overkill?
posted by piratebowling to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a proper chef, or food scientist or anything like that. I'm just a dude who cooks and bakes stuff that usually comes out good. If I were you in this situation, I would bake my spice-cake cupcakes, perhaps even over-baking them a tiny bit for some dryness/density, and then I'd drizzle them with rum two or three times, an hour or so apart, before icing them.

Doing so will give you a fine control over how rummy the final presentation is, and the flavour of the rum will be more distinct when the cupcakes are eaten. I would not add rum to the icing.

All my recipes are at home, and I have no favourite spice-cake recipes anyhow, so I won't bother making recipe suggestions, except to say that you'll want a nice, dense cake to aborb the rum. And remember that if you're converting a cake recipe from one large pan to a cupcake pan, your baking time will go down.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:10 PM on December 7, 2008

Here's a from scratch recipe with rum in the batter. It doesn't have much in the way of spices, but that's not hard to improvise. Here's something a little different - not much rum in the batter, but plenty of spices. Perhaps a combination of the 2 recipes would yield the results you're looking for.
posted by katie at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2008

What about a variation on these Double chocolate cupcake with ricotta, bourbon and orange zest? Make a spiced cake mix instead of chocolate. The ricotta mix can double as the eggnog aspect, and include rum instead of bourbon.

There's a recipe for a chocolate rum cake here that both includes rum in the batter and to be poured after later - may give some indication as to method and quantity.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Failing that, would a rum glaze + frosting be a sweetness overkill?

Oh good lord no, of course it wouldn't.
posted by mandal at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2008

Best answer: Just an aside: No less an expert than Rose Levy Beranbaum approves the use of boxed cake mix for rum cake :)

But here's a chocolate rum-in-the-batter recipe from Gourmet, and here's an applesauce/spice/rum cake recipe I can vouch for as being very tasty. It uses only a couple teaspoons of rum, but you could add more. Honestly, I think alcohol ingredients are among the easiest things to tweak in a baking recipe - they evaporate so quickly that they don't actually add much net liquid to the overall mix, just flavor.

Check out this recipe, too - sounds like it might be a good departure point for your cupcake version.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:33 PM on December 7, 2008

Best answer: I'd go with peachfuzz's recco of the apple/spice/rum cake receipt and this eggnog frosting.
posted by pokeedog at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2008

Best answer: Here's a recipe for rum cake. It calls for banana liqueur, but says that it can be substituted with rum, which means that the cake contains 3/4 a cup of rum. It doesn't sound particularly spicy, but I would add some pumpkin pie spice (at least a teaspoon) or ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves (which is basically what pumpkin pie spice is made of) - about 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (or a comparable ratio) and that should get you a rum spice cake.

Let us know how it turns out, whatever you decide to make!
posted by k8lin at 4:00 PM on December 7, 2008

PS: If Rose Levy Beranbaum approves of using boxed cake mix, go for it. She seriously knows her stuff. If you like to bake, you should get a copy of her Cake Bible, which is really a classic that anyone who is at all serious about baking should own.
posted by k8lin at 4:04 PM on December 7, 2008

Please, please, please come back to update after you give this a go - that sounds like a fabulous cupcake.

My one contribution is to suggest a delicate hand putting the liquor in the frosting, because the liquor could break down the rest of the frosting and/or turn it runny if there's too much of it.
posted by batmonkey at 5:43 PM on December 7, 2008

The cupcakes you're talking about sound very much like fruitcake. Not the neon-colored horror you may have been given in the past, but rather the traditional version which was a spice cake filled with dried fruit, and soaked in rum and brandy for their preservative qualities. Alton Brown has an amazing version that I've made several times to a great reception. His method of soaking raisins, citrus zest, and candied ginger in rum overnight would adapt well to your spice cupcakes. The aroma when they're done is AMAZING and since the raisins soak up the rum, they won't interfere with your recipe.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:27 PM on December 7, 2008

Note: I've also done the microwave-assisted 5 minute soak and I thought it was just as good as the overnight version.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:29 PM on December 7, 2008

Note 2: After looking at Alton's recipe again, it isn't transcribed well from the show. You don't microwave the dried fruit and rum for 5 minutes, you microwave it until it boils, remove, cover, and let stand for at least 5 minutes. The fruit will soak up most of the rum, and a good deal of the alcohol will evaporate during baking so you don't really need to reduce the liquid in your recipe by much...if at all.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:33 PM on December 7, 2008

Response by poster: When I envisioned the cupcakes, it wasn't anything super fruity or super rummy. I pictured the cake tasting a bit like a nicely spiced rum in a regular yellow cake. This is the only reason Im not going with a fruit cake (although, that may just be a separate prject, because hey, I gotta use up this rum somehow, right?).

The applesauce/spice one looks promising, as does the rum cake that I will just add a bunch of spices too. Thanks everyone, and I'll be sure to post an update later.
posted by piratebowling at 6:50 AM on December 8, 2008

Ah, gotcha, when I read spice cake, the spice cake I'm familiar with is basically carrot cake minus the carrots, where rum-soaked raisins would make sense. Thanks for planting the idea in my head though, I think I'm going to try making carrot cake cupcakes with rummy raisins myself! The yellow cake mix rum cake is definitely a winner, it's been passed down by generations of mothers and grandmothers as their "secret family recipe" which is hilarious because it was originally printed on the side of a Bacardi bottle!
posted by TungstenChef at 9:48 AM on December 8, 2008

I love, love, love the Bacardi Rum Cake (just google it)-it's a rummy yellow cake, that would be easy to add some spices too. I might just add a little nutmeg, and leave it at that, since that's the traditional eggnog spice. You could bake the cupcakes, which have some rum in them, then poke them all over and pour over the rummy glaze. Once all that's cooled, add your frosting. Re sweetness overkill-maybe add a little less sugar than normal, or possibly use a cream-cheese base for your frosting (I have to admit I'm not a huge cream-cheese frosting fan, and am not sure how that would work as an eggnog base).
posted by purenitrous at 10:30 PM on December 8, 2008

Response by poster: Okay, So I went with the recipe provided by k8lin for the cake, with a few minor changes. I added a bunch of cinnamon and ground ginger, with come allspice nutmeg and ground cloves as well. I also use 3/4 cup eggnog and one egg yolk rather than the three eggs and one egg yolk. Baked for 25 minutes in cupcake tins.

I'm not sure what I think of the cake. First off, the cakes didn't rise a whole lot. It is a super, super rich rich recipe. My cupcake liners were a bit greasy on the bottom after I pulled them out. I tasted one unfrosted, too see if it needed the rum glaze or not. Even though the cakes were close to burning on the bottom, they were under cooked inside. It actually made them taste a bit boozy inside, so I skipped the rum glaze. Frosted with the eggnog frosting recipe, replacing vanilla extract with spiced rum.

It's okay, but something is off. Perhaps I need to use the applesauce spice cake recipe or perhaps I need to just go the boxed cake plus rum route. Anyway, I feel sufficiently pumped full of booze and calories, so cheers to that!
posted by piratebowling at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2008

I recommend trying the Bacardi rum cake recipe, it's totally delicious and you'll never know it's based on a box mix. I recommend mixing up some cinnamon sugar and using it with the batter. I pour 1/3 the batter into the pan, sprinkle on a generous layer of sugar, then alternating layers of batter and sugar. For cupcakes you could sprinkle it on top before baking, it'll bake into a crusty top.

Also, I tried the rum raisin carrot cake idea today and it turned out very well. I mixed the following and nuked and stirred it a few times until the liquid was absorbed:
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup candied ginger
zest of 1 lemon, shredded
zest of 1 orange, shredded

I added this to my normal carrot cake recipe. It took 10 minutes longer than normal to bake, but you could definitely taste the rum and citrus.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:01 PM on December 9, 2008

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