This Wednesday we celebrate Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins’s 104th birthday and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate birthday cake than rum cake! I wanted to keep it simple, but still add a bit of Sailor Jerry flare so I whipped up a rum cake mix from scratch, made cupcakes instead of the traditional bundt cake, and frosted the tops to resemble one of Norman’s most iconic pin ups.. the Hula Girl. While my artistry skill of drawing cartoon cleavage still has a lot to be desired, I made up for it with flavor! The taste of rum is apparent, but by no means overpowering. Just like the rum itself, these cupcakes have notes of vanilla and cinnamon which make for a tasty birthday treat!
Cake recipe slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven
(makes 24 cupcakes)
2 cups + 3 Tbs all-purpose flour
5 Tbs cornstarch
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ cup + 2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted*
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ cup Sailor Jerry Rum
3 Tbs unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbs vanilla extract (I just replaced it with more rum!)
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature
White, red, and black icing
For my cupcake hula skirts you’ll just need green tissue paper, a pair of scissors, and clear tape.
*A quick note about the butter… use the defrost setting when melting it or your butter will explode in your microwave, nearly giving you a heart attack and leaving you a lovely mess like this one…
Learn from my mistakes people!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C) and line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
In a large bowl, sift together flour and cornstarch. Next whisk in baking powder, salt, baking soda, and 1 ½ cups of sugar until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, rum, applesauce, vanilla extract, and egg yolks until mixed.
An easy way to separate your yolks and whites is to crack the egg and keep the yolk in one half of the eggshell. Carefully transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves and let the whites run off into a large bowl. Since we only need egg whites from 3 eggs, but we need 6 yolks, you can save the other 3 to make an egg white omelet later! Frugal and healthy! 😉
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. With the mixer still running, slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form and then set aside.
Slowly pour butter and rum mixture into your flour mix and whisk by hand until ingredients are just combined. Fold in about 1/3 of the egg white mixture until just mixed, then add the remaining whites and gently fold in until completely mixed and no streaks remain.
Fill muffin cups about ¾ of the way full with batter and place in the oven to bake. Keep in mind, this makes 24 cupcakes so unless you have two muffin pans, you’ll have leftover batter until the first round comes out of the oven. Bake cupcakes for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
While waiting on your cupcakes to bake you can make your little hula skirts for them! Keeping the tissue paper folded, cut 1 inch up on the edge of the tissue, making tiny strips. Cut horizontally above the strips, leaving about ¼ of an inch space between the strips. Unfold the fringe you just created and then cut every 8 inches. Repeat the entire process until you have enough hula skirts.
You can add the hula skirts before or after you ice them.
When cupcakes finish baking, place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and place on the cooling rack. While they’re still slightly warm, frost the top with white cookie icing. Use a butter knife to spread the frosting to the edges of the cupcake.
When cupcakes have completely cooled and the white icing is set up you can add your hula girl cleavage. Haha sadly my icing bag broke in the middle of trying to do these and I had to use zip-lock bags which also kept breaking… hence the wonky cartoon cleavage.
This is what I was going for..
and this is what I ended up with..
At least they tasted good, right?!
Attach your hula skirts around the edge of the cupcakes and tape in place. Serve right away or make the night before!