This weekend, I was visiting my friends Maura and Jonathan in Burlington, Vermont, another place you really should visit if you have a chance. They were amazingly energetic and enthusiastic hosts and had a kajillion fun ideas, of which we were only able to do a few, since I only had four days. I had such a great time! This has been a really wonderful month. (The cat would disagree, but she doesn't pay rent, so whatever.)
We spent a lot of time doing outdoors stuff. Now, before you wrinkle up your delicate widdle nose, we weren't like camping or kayaking or rolling logs or wrestling moose or anything like that--just walking around some of the area's outdoor attractions, of which there are many. On the penultimate day of my visit, they took me berry picking, WHICH I have been wanting to do for ages but never made it out when I was in North Carolina, and I can't find places to do it here in central Pennsylvania.
We were going for the novelty of it, but what do you think really happens when you put three PhDs in a big field with a big box and say, "put some stuff in here"?
Absolute overkill, that's what happens.
Fortunately, I am just diligent enough a TWDer and they are just indulgent enough hosts that I had already made a loaf from this week's TWD recipe, Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes (chosen by Wendy of Pink Stripes), a lovely simple and delicious recipe that I will most assuredly make again with a new title because I feel a mite silly calling it all of that. Poor titling, but fantastic idea and execution. And very convenient to have when you've got a bounty of fresh berries on hand!
Vanilla beans are ridiculously expensive, and I totally forgot to pack some in my mad dash to get out of the house (I also forgot to pay the cat sitter, go me), but they had some vanilla paste in the cabinet. So I used that instead, and I think it worked well, if it was a bit messy.
Jonathan went out and got a bottle of Barbancourt rum, which I don't think I've had before but thought was pretty good. I'm no rum aficionado, but I do think I've not been able to find any in my liquor stores to match the kind I found on a grocery store shelf in Santo Domingo years ago. I am still clinging to the last couple ounces of that stuff. I will probably have it forever.
I didn't know what to think about this whisking business. Was I to whisk by hand or by Kitchenaid? I had dismaying visions of 19th century women beating up pound cakes by hand (trust me, you don't want to do that) but this was much easier and the batter came out very smooth and familiar.
Though I only did half the recipe, I made the whole recipe of rum syrup. Since I never had the cake before, I chickened out and only used half of it anyway. I was pleased that it soaked up right away. I had had to cover the cake with foil halfway through, but the finished result was still nice and soft when it came out.
I wrapped the finished cake and we let it sit for...two days, I think? before eating it.
We all liked it a lot (or so they said.) Maura said, "I can see craving this cake," and Jonathan was impressed with the restraint of the rum and the vanilla, as was I. You can taste them both but they don't suckerpunch you in the face. (Though I will be waiting on those bourbon balls, M.) Holy mother of sugarcane was this ever good. This is a definite makeagain. And I hope I get to go back to Burlington!