Banana Rum Cake with Rum Soaked Cherries

A little background is needed for this cake. I am working on the addition for the Harborview Hospital in Seattle, WA. The addition that is being built on is 3 times the size of the existing hospital. This construction project is huge so I get to meet a lot of interesting people on the job. One such person just tickles me every time I go to work. He is what we call an elevator operator. The building that I am working in, as a commercial electrician, is 9 floors high with a basement floor that is seperated by 3 feet of cement so that if there is ever an earthquake, any critical operations being done will not be interrupted by any acts of nature. The construction workers get 2 working elevators to use to get to the different floors, unless you are like me and usually just climb all 9 floors to get to where I am working (grin, uhmm, that would be the 9th floor), but for some reason, insurance and liability for a construction site states that we cannot push our own elevator button and get to the floor of choice. A construction worker elevator operator has to be hired to do this very job. Yep, he sits in the elevator and pushes the buttons that takes us to the different floors. . .all day long, which right now can be 10 to 12 hours in a little elevator that has plywood for walls (we're construction workers, we are not allowed to have something that can get knicked or scratched while hauling materials from floor-to-floor). We actually have 2 different elevator operators but this particular older operator, Roy, just so happens to have a wife that LOVES to bake and Roy enjoys being the middle man to relay recipes back-and-forth between us. I have this slight habit of baking goodies and taking enough to share with a few people, which included Roy, and this is how the whole thing got started. As soon as I get to work and see Roy in the morning, we are talking food, recipes, and ingredients all the way up to the 9th floor and there are usually about 30 of us squished into this elevator at 6 in the morning. It is very comical to see the faces of everyone else looking bewildered while Roy and I are deep in conversation about whatever the latest baking endeavor was or will soon be and what new recipe is being swapped. This time it was my Rum cake. I have been experimenting with flavors. Roy's wife, Dee, soaks cherries in rum for 1/2 of a day and also drizzles 1 Tablespoon of Rum every morning and every night for 2 days on top of the regular glaze that gets soaked into the cake. I decided to try this cake with a banana pudding mix and I have to tell you, it is absolutely delicious! Also, the rum soaked cherries is a really pretty touch, potent, but pretty. When I say potent, I actually mean that instead of soaking the cherries in 1/2 cup of Rum for the 1/2 day, I thought. . .why not soak them for 24 hours. Bad idea! Way to strong. The cherries looked really pretty but they tasted like straight rum and nothing else. No cherry flavor what so ever! Lesson learned. The cake is very moist and gets better over time, like 2 days =).1 c. chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, whichever you prefer
1 18 1/2-ounce yellow cake mix
1 1 3/4-ounce (4-serving) instant banana pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. Bacardi dark rum. . .I believe I used Appleyard (sp?) Jamaican Rum this last time
1/2 c. butter (1 cube)
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark rum
10 or more cherries soaked in Rum for about 4 hours

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake. Use pastry brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.
Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
**Note: The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Also, drizzle a Tablespoon of Rum every morning and night for 2 days and make sure to cover the cake with foil so as to keep all moisture in. I know, it is hard to wait that long before tasting this but it is so worth the effort if you can do it.


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