Koreans can’t bake.
That’s been my insecurity since starting this baking journey. That I’m Korean. And unlike my fellow caucasian friends, I have no family pie recipe or a mom that baked chocolate chip cookies with me on Saturday mornings. The only things I baked as a child were Pillsbury crescents from a tin or boxed Duncan Hines. Baking from scratch was never a part of my family growing up.
Instead, my Saturdays consisted of Korean language classes followed by math drills with Sargent Shin… and his chopstick wand. After math, my sisters and I would get to watch some TV whilst stuffing thousands of Korean dumplings called “mandu”. Okay. Maybe not thousands but god did it ever feel like thousands! Only after all the mandus were stuffed and our math drills were done correctly, were my sisters and I allowed to bake Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake. And if we were really lucky, my mom would have bought the chocolate icing in a carton for us to ice the yellow cake with. As a child, baking this cake and devouring it was my escape, my utopia, my moment of being unkorean.
Until I was a teen and got a job at an upscale bakery. Cardamom coffee cake…what was cardamom? Hazelnut dacquoise…what was dacquoise? My inner sweet carb spirit was awakened. My Saturday mornings no longer involved memorizing math formulas instead being transported to sugary moments of utter bliss, learning flavours and spices I had never heard of. In retrospect I should have paid this bakery rather than the bakery having paid me.
My weekend bakery job and Duncan Hines days are a distant memory now. And the feeling of “Koreans can’t bake” does jab me every so often. Especially when reading fellow bloggers stories of great Aunts sharing pie crust hacks and grandma’s almost 100 year starter named Arras (after the WWI battle)
But as I write this, I realize I have something that the blogger with Arras and the baker with the family pie hacks don’t have. I have patience and the willingness to drill and train myself until I get that pie crust flaky and this Spiced Rum Date Bundt perfectly drunk with moistness and flavour. It may not sound as heartwarming as a soft rosy cheeked gran smelling of cinnamon and bread. But Sargent Shin with his chopstick wand and those thousands of dumplings taught me something I believe to be just as valuable if not more. Perseverance. And so goes, that This Korean Bakes.
Bon app! or as we Koreans say Mashikeh-Mogo!
- FOR THE BUNDT:
- 2 cups or 260 grams whole grain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- +1 teaspoon baking soda (for the date puree)
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cup or about 200 grams fresh dates chopped
- 1 cup or about 120 grams dried dates
- 1¼ cup water
- ¾ cup spiced rum
- 1¼ cup or 250 grams granulated white sugar
- ¾ cup fancy molasses
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup canola oil (or a light oil)
- 1 cup or 125 grams chopped walnuts
- FOR THE RUM CARAMEL: (Caramel recipe ONLY adapted from https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/dark-rum-caramel )
- 1½ cup granulated white sugar
- ⅓ cold water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum
- pinch of salt
- Take your 10 cup bundt pan and grease very generously and carefully with melted butter making sure you grease all the nook and crannies.
- Dust with all purpose flour discarding access...set aside
- Preheat oven to 350F with oven rack in middle of oven
- In a large bowl, sift the whole grain flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, salt and whisk well...set aside
- In a medium saucepan, bring the 1/14 cup water to a boil and then add the dried and fresh chopped dates.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda. Bring to a boil then put lid on and turn heat off and set aside
- In your stand mixer, with paddle attachment, beat the sugar and molasses together until smooth
- Add the eggs one at a time to the sugar mix.
- Add the canola oil in a slow steady stream to the sugar/egg mix
- In your blender/juicer or kitchenaid, puree the now softened dates until a smooth puree. A few chunks is okay.
- Stir in the spiced rum into the date puree with a spatula
- On low speed, add the dry flour mix to the sugar/egg/oil mix in the stand mixer then add puree mix doing the flour mix in thirds and ending with the dry flour mix.
- Fold in the walnuts with a spatula
- Do not over mix
- Pour into bundt pan and bake for 50minutes to 1 hour or until tester stick comes out mostly clean
- Allow to rest in pan for 10-15 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and allow to completely cool
- In the meanwhile, FOR THE CARAMEL:
- In a medium heavy sauce pan, whisk the ⅓ cup cold water and sugar.
- Cover with lid and bring to a boil over med-high heat all the while swirling the pan every so often...(do not stir..Swirl)
- Remove lid after about 8 minutes and keep swirling until the sugar liquid turns a rich dark amber hue.
- Turn the heat to low immediately upon it turning dark amber and carefully whisk the butter in. Whisk until the bubbles subsides
- Add the Heavy cream and keep whisking until the caramel is smooth and silky about 2-3 minutes on low
- Remove from stove top and add the spiced rum and salt. Allow the caramel to cool in fridge for 15 minutes or so or at room temperature for an hour before drizzling half the caramel over the cooled cake.
- Keep the other half caramel for serving on the side.