I’ve had a blurry love affair with rum since a rugby tour to Barbados (yes, that great rugby playing nation). Or was it the trip to Cuba, where I learned that the only thing you can do during a hurricane is drink Mojitos, Cuba Libres and Daiquiris? To be honest, I can’t remember which came first. But the point is, it’s been a while, and it’s been emotional.
Now I’m older and wiser I realise that you don’t have to just glug through the good stuff – sometimes you can cook with it as well.
Spiced rum, like Captain Morgan’s, is towards the top of my list of “booze that’s good for cooking”. There’s depth and subtlety, as well as a hearty punch. I get loads of vanilla and caramel when I smell and taste this particular amber nectar. Which means I immediately think of baking and desserts; fairly unoriginal, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Fruits like bananas, pineapple and peaches, raisins pair well. Ditto caramel sauces and vanilla based ice cream. On a more savoury note, there are loads of chicken marinades that benefit from a splash of The Captain.
The reason I write all this is that I’ve been trialing a few different ways of cooking pineapple upside down cakes, and this Captain Morgan’s infused one could well be the best of them. Spiced rum caramel forms a base turned top (like a tatin), and the rum flavoured cake mix is mostly almond and polenta, so it ends up firm yet moist and deceptively light. Those caramel and vanilla flavours in the rum come through nicely.
Definitely worth a shot.
Three other things you could cook with Captain Morgan’s
Rum chicken – chicken thighs, marinated overnight in Captain Morgan’s, honey, fresh ginger, garlic, chilli, maybe some herbs and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme. Grill, BBQ, roast or fry.
Bananas Foster – melt golden sugar, cinnamon and a splash of water in a pan. When it turns caramel coloured, add butter, a glug of Captain Morgan’s, and bananas cut on a length. Cook for 5 minutes. You could add a splash more rum at this point and flambé. Serve with ice cream. On which note …
Rum and ginger ice cream – warm 250g milk, 250g cream, a teaspoon of ground ginger. Whisk 4 egg yolks and 80g sugar. Add the milk and cream slowly into eggs to make custard. Stir in 60g Captain Morgan’s. Churn. Freeze. Serve with baked peaches.
Captain Morgan’s pineapple polenta and almond cake
One loaf tin100g caster sugar 80g water 25g butter 30g Captain Morgan’s 200g pineapple – cut 2cm thick 180g butter 165g caster sugar 2 eggs 30g Captain Morgan’s 50g plain flour 5g baking powder 1g (a pinch) of salt 180g almonds 100g polenta
Line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Slice two discs from a medium pineapple – about 2cm thick. Remove the skin and cut the flesh into triangles. Check you’ve got enough to line the loaf tin by arranging them in the base like crazy paving. Cut more if you need, then remove the pineapple from the tin and set aside.
Put the sugar and water in a non stick frying pan or small saucepan. Slowly heat until the water boils away and the sugar syrup turns golden brown. (this will take a few minutes – you could start to weigh out the cake mix whilst you wait.) Add the butter, stir it in. It will foam, bubble and generally smell awesome. Add the rum. Take off the heat. Stir.
Pour the rum caramel into the lined loaf tin. Wait for a minute then place the pineapple in the base – take care not to touch the caramel with your fingers.
Now make the cake. The easiest way to do this is with a stand mixer and the paddle attachment. But you could make it by hand – ensure the butter starts at room temperature if so.
Set the oven to 170C. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and light.
Add one egg. Beat. If you’re using a mixer, just use the slowest setting throughout.
Ensure the egg is incorporated into the butter and sugar mix before adding the second. Then add the rum. Again, beat until incorporated.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder. Then the almond and polenta. Once everything is mixed in, stop.
Spoon the cake mix on to the pineapple base. Ensure the mix is level and pushed into all gaps and corners. Place the tin on a tray with sides (in case liquids bubble over) and put in the centre of the oven. Bake for 70 minutes. The cake will be dark golden and domed. Probe the cake with a skewer or sharp knife – the centre should feel firm and the probe should come out clean.
After five minutes of cooling, turn the cake out onto a board or cooling rack. Wait for the cake to cool completely before peeling the paper away and slicing. Eat with cream or crème fraiche. Add a splash of rum to whatever you’re drinking.