I have to admit that initially I was tickled pink when a blog comment from Thomas Keller appeared in my email. But after it was quickly followed by one from Katniss Everdeen I knew that it was only spam.
Needless to say I went from cloud nine visions of having finally ‘made’ it in the food-writing world to the reality of needing to get a better spam filter. Those crafty spammer folks knew just what to do in order to get my heart pumping.
Most people associate Keller’s name with his famed list of restaurants that include The French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc, and Bouchon. But what some of you may not realize is that he also owns five bakeries. And unlike the target audiences of his flagship restaurants, Keller’s bakeries speak the universal language of baked goods.
Inspired by the boulangeries (bakeries) of Paris, Thomas Keller and his team launched the Bouchon Bakery in 2003 next to their Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA. The success of the bakery has since resulted in additional stores in Las Vegas, New York City and Beverly Hills. All of their delicacies are based on traditional French baking techniques, and include everything from lunchtime staples like quiche and salads, to simple baked goods such as cookies and muffins, to the delicate macron, traditional French Viennoiserie (croissants, milk-bread doughs, brioche), and even treats for your four legged friends (dog biscuits enriched with foie gras and chicken stock).
This past week saw the release of Keller’s much anticipated book; Bouchon Bakery. Written by Thomas Keller and his pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel, this book has the anal attention to detail that readers have come to expect (and I happen to love) from a Keller cookbook. Details are meticulously laid out and accompanied by step-by-step photography to further illustrate techniques. I love baking recipes that have been scaled down from their original professional quantities with measurements given in weight. Honestly, if you plan to bake from this book buy a scale and embrace working with grams. You will be surprised by the favourable difference this has on your results. If you don’t have access to a scale, there are volume amounts offered as an alternative, but be prepared to face quantities such as “1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon”.
One recipe from the book I’d like to share with you is for the bakery’s famed Rum Cake. It is simple in terms of ingredients and overall taste, and yet it holds a plethora of layers that keep you coming back for more. I love the pureness embraced by this recipe. It is a classic cake that similar to the little black dress in your closet will never go out of style.
The batter itself is simple, consisting solely of a whack load of butter (we’re talking Paula Deen quantities here folks!), eggs, almond flour with a tad of all-purpose thrown in the mix, and of course rum.
Unfortunately my first attempt at this cake resulted in a crumbly disaster, my own fault as I couldn’t resist the pretty red Bundt pan that would look oh so lovely in the photos. Vanity won out over function. But the second time around I made sure to slather on an obscene amount of butter in my pan prior to adding the batter. I also found it helped to let the cake cool completely before attempting to remove it from the pan.
A rum simple syrup is brushed over the cake before it is drizzled with a rum icing.
The perfect rainy day indulgence with afternoon tea.
For a copy of the recipe for Rum Cake, please click here