Tropical Spice Cake with Vanilla Rum Sauce

Spice Cake

Gluten free adaptation by Hallie.

You can't see the "tipsy" vanilla-rum sauce because it has soaked into the cake. Of course, you could use more which is what the original recipe called for. But I held back some so that individual guests could add their own sauce if they wanted to.

Here is a gluten free adaptation of "Spice Cake with Tipsy Vanilla-Rum Sauce" on page 102 of the February 2011 Coastal Living magazine. There were a lot of things I liked about the recipe and a lot that I didn't. I cut the recipe in half, didn't put it in a bunt pan, do not like coconut, was dubious of the dried papaya and pineapple in the tropical fruit mix, and didn't want to go out and buy fresh unsalted macadamia nuts just for this cake. What I did like about it were the spices, the vanilla-rum sauce, the basic cake, and the idea of fruit and nuts in the cake. Although you can see some of the spices in the foreground, this cake actually uses ground spices.

Some gluten free cakes are inclined to be a little dry. However, the vanilla-rum sauce eliminates that problem completely. I used dried honey for some of the sugar; however, you can use all brown sugar. If you do decide to use some liquid honey, don't exceed the total liquid in the cake recipe. For fruits and nuts, I used chopped dark chocolate covered cranberries, raisins and nuts (shown in the wine glass to the right of the rum).

I really like the basic cake recipe because it is so versatile, and because it has a nice crumb and plenty of flavor. I also cut back on the sugar and fat, but the cake was not dry and had plenty of sweetness. Feel free to adjust the sugars and butter to your taste and style.

Spice Cake Ingredients (may be doubled)
Amount Ingredient
5 Tablespoons Softened butter or Earth Balance vegan stick - I used 3 T. butter and 2 T. earth balance. The original recipe called for 8 Tablespoons.
1/4 cup Brown sugar, not packed.
  Honey powder (optional) If omitted, use brown sugar - I used a combination of brown sugar and honey powder to add up to 1/4 cup We got our honey powder at a local Korean food store for $2.00, but you can reach the company at (Website comes up as Cafe Mazel, and you need to go to Buy Online to find the honey as listed by the products. The honey powder is also really good on oatmeal or in iced tea.)
1/4 cup White sugar - the original recipe called for 6 T. each of brown and white sugars, with the brown sugar packed.
2 large Eggs
1-1/8 cups Gluten free flour. We use Carol Fenster's mix.
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract- i never measure, just pour. it probably comes out to more like 1 teaspoon.
3/4 teaspoon Baking powder
1/8 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Guar gum (preferred) or xanthan gum (if you don't have guar gum)
1/8 teaspoon Allspice - ground - next time around i would add more of all the spices.
1/8 teaspoon Ginger - ground
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg - ground
1/8 teaspoon Cloves - ground
1/8 teaspoon Black pepper - ground
1/2 cup Buttermilk - I used 1% milk with some fresh lemon juice.

Fruit and Nut Mix
1/8 Cup Raisins
1/8 Cup Dried and sugared cranberries (Craisins)
1/8 Cup (Optional) Dried fruit of your choice
1/8 Cup Pecans or walnuts
  Or you could just use chopped chocolate covered fruit and nut mix candy - this is what i used. just took 2 handsful from our jar, without measuring.


Cake instructions

Note: I have a shaker-topped bottle in which I put a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and a bit of allspice and call it "cinnamon-sugar." It is versitile, and I shake a bit onto the top of many of my cakes.

Vanilla Rum Sauce
Amount Ingredient
1/4 Cup Brown sugar - light or dark
1/4 Cup Milk, cream or milk substitute.
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Plain or spiced rum

Place first three ingredients into a sauce pan, cooking over medium heat until the sugar completely dissolves. Allow to cool and then add the rum.

But maybe you don't like rum. You could make a sauce using orange juice for liquid, powdered confectioner's sugar for the sugar, and add some freshly grated or dried orange zest for added zing. This would be particularly nice with blood orange juice, blood orange zest, and meyer lemon zest. If you do use blood oranges, you will need to use more sugar to taste

I made the sauce as indicated this time, but the butter didn't do it for us on this sauce. So next time we are going to try just a glaze of powdered sugar and whatever liquid is on hand. This could be alcoholic or not, as you prefer. We are thinking along the lines of strong coffee, or vanilla/brandy combination, or fruit juice. You could use pineapple juice to carry through with the tropical theme. But the trick is that whatever glaze you make, it should be hot as you pour it over the hot cake. That way it will seep in. If you use the optional cinnamon/sugar coating, put it on right after you pour on the hot glaze, so that it will stick..

(Optional) Drizzle some of the remaining sauce on the cake when serving. Actually, our guests just wanted the sauce by itself. They didn't need the cake.

This cake is best the first day, but keeps well in the refrigerator. If the cake is refrigerated, heat for 15 seconds or more in the microwave to warm it. The cake will regain its original moistness and crumb. We took this cake on a picnic the 2nd day and it traveled very well. Pack the sauce separately, but bring a spoon for serving.