Mai Tai

Pineapple Rum Cake ft. Rum Frosting + Triple Sec Orange Curd

Summer is technically not over yet so here is one last summer remix before the solstice - a fruity and slightly boozy cake version of the fruity yet very bozzy Mai Tai cocktail. Usually seen as a Tiki/Polynesian-themed drink, the cake features pineapple, light and dark rum, a splash of lime juice, and my first-ever attempt at a curd. The curd took 2 attempts to get right, but it's a nice alternative to frosting for filling between cake layers.

Cake is best beneath under a setting sun, with a drink in hand.

pineapple rum cake
1 box white (or pineapple) cake mix
3 eggs
1/4 c. light rum
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c.  + 1/4 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. diced or crushed pineapple
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 3 round cake pans with butter or a non-stick spray like PAM. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until well-blended. Add oil, 1 c. pineapple juice, and rum and beat on low for 1 minute. Slowly add cake mix into wet ingredients and beat on a high speed for 1-2 minute until batter is smooth. Add diced pineapple and press into batter with a rubber spatula until integrated.

Pour batter into greased pans until each is 2/3 of the way full. Bake according to the times on the back of the mix box, depending on the types of pans you are using. Use a toothpick to check doneness - if the toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cakes, remove from oven and set on cooling rack.

While cakes are still warm in the pans, use a toothpick to prick a dozen holes in the top of each. Run a knife or spatula around the edges to loosen from the pan. Use a pastry brush to paint  the remaining 1/4 c. of pineapple juice onto the tops and sides of the cakes. Bake cakes in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, remove, and let cool completely.

Use a knife or spatula to loosen the cakes and remove from pans. If the cakes are uneven or rounded at the top, use a serrated knife to level each cake so they are about the same thickness and are flat.

rum frosting
1/2 c. butter or shortening
1 tsp. lime juice
5 tbsp. dark rum
4 c. powdered sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, lime juice, and rum until blended. Slowly add in sugar and continue to mix on high until frosting forms. Add more rum or water if frosting is too thick.

orange triple sec curd
3 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. Triple Sec liquer
4 tbsp. butter, room temperature
I had never made curd before so I follow this recipe very closely, substituting orange juice and Triple Sec for the lemon juice.

Heat water in a saucepan until boiling and reduce to a simmer. Place a large stainless steel bowl on top of the saucepan (creating a double boiler) and whisk together eggs, sugar, orange juice, and Triple Sec. Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon. Remove the mixture from heat and pour through a strainer/sieve to remove any lumps.

Cut in butter, whisk mixture until smooth, and let refrigerate overnight to thicken completely.

This version is made with 3 layers of cake filled with 2 layers of rum frosting and orange curd. After cakes have cooled, use a serrated knife to level each so they are about the same thickness and flat. Fill a large pastry bag with a star tip (I used 1M) and rum frosting, and frost an outer ring on top of 2 of the 3 layers of cake - these will act as a rim to keep the curd from spilling over the edges.

Use a spoon to 'fill' these 2 cake layers with orange curd. Place one curd-filled cake layer on top of another, top with the third unfilled cake layer, and frost entire cake with a crumb coat.

In a small bowl, mix remaining frosting with brown food coloring to make a light brown/tan color for the bamboo. Fill a pastry bag or parchment triangle with a small/medium round tip (I used #8) and the brown icing. Using long straight strokes, pipe out continuous 'stems' of bamboo up the sides and across the top of the cake, applying more pressure once or twice per stem so that it bulges like the node. You can also pipe a bamboo border around the edge of the cake.

Here's the fun part: to make the bamboo more bamboo-like, mix brown food coloring and 1-2 tsp of rum in a small dish.  Use a paintbrush to apply the brown/rum mixture as a wash on the frosting bamboo on the cake, once it has hardened a bit, to create a warm woody texture.

For the look of the lettering, add more brown food coloring to remaining frosting. Use a medium round tip (#10) to pipe out stick-like letters and paint with dark brown/black and rum mixture for a dark Tiki wash.

mai tai cupcakes
For cupcake versions, use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with pineapple cake batter. Bake for 24-28 minutes at 350 degrees, testing doneness with a toothpick.

Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop a chunk of cupcake out and use a spoon to fill cavity with orange curd. Fill a pastry bag with a 1M star tip and rum frosting. Starting on the outside, swirl frosting to a peak in the center and garnish with rum and pineapple slices.