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GIFTS OF THE DAY: Rum Cake, Espresso Cake, Bundt Cake, Gift Cake

Rum Cake

Espresso Bundt Cake

Espresso Bundt Cake

[1] Divine rum cakes in 6 flavors from Rum Sisters. [2] This expresso cake from 1812 House: a coffee lover’s dream cake. [3] A duo of small espresso bundt cakes with caramel sauce.



We’ve tried lots of rum cake. But the Rum Sisters make the best we’ve tried in recent memory.

The business was begun by two friends who shared a love of baking, cake and alcohol.

Not to mention the skills to make truly great whiskey-infused cakes.

Not to mention the premium ingredients, including fine rum, bourbon, Irish whiskey and Kahlúa.

These rum cakes are so good, we ate the whole sampler box—6 mini bundts-in two days. When there was not a crumb left, we cried plaintively: More! More!

There’s a tempting selection:

  • Bushwacker: Named after the coastal frozen drink, this rum cake has a delicious infusion of coconut and chocolate..
  • Drunken Monkey: Touted as “the best banana bread ever,” this cake is infused with bourbon.
  • Keel Over: This version of a classic rum cake is infused with dark rum.
  • Spice It Up: Think of the carrot cake with raisin and spiced rum.
  • The Big “O”: Aged Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream distinguish combine in this special flavor.
  • Twisted Sista: This dark chocolate cake is infused with Kahlúa and finished with white chocolate rum, a “twisted” medley of flavors.
  • Gluten Free Cakes: Keel Over and Twisted Sista are both made in GF versions.
    Cakes are $25 (small) and $50 (large). Get acquainted with all six flavors in the Sumptuous Sampler of mini bundts, $30. (Regular folks might split one with a cup of tea, or eat half at a time.)

    Head to

    Matthews 1812 House is a second-generation family business. The Matthews family started in 1979 in the family farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut (the house was built in 1812).

    From a line of two fruitcakes, “baking racks in the hallways and people sorting apricots and pecans on the dining room table,” the company now has a dedicated facility a mile away, and a full line of specialty cakes into cookies, bars, and other sweet treats.

    The flavor we haven’t seen before is the Espresso Bundt Cake. If a cup of espresso can be transformed into a cake, this is it.

    The moist cake has a bold coffee flavor, a hint of cinnamon, and less sugar than most bundt cakes. That’s why you can easily add caramel sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.

    A large bundt cake is $29.00; two mini-bundts, called Duo Cakes, $15.00, are packaged with espresso caramel sauce that fits nicely in the top wells.

    Order at


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Finally Ginger, Artisanal Ginger Cookies

    Finally Ginger Cookies

    Finally Ginger Gift Tin

    Finally Ginger Snack Pack

    [1] Finally Ginger artisan cookies are available in [2] gift tins and [3] snack packs (all photos courtesy Love From Cleveland).


    What a joy: delicious ginger cookies we didn’t have to bake at home.

    Cookies freshly-baked just for us, because they’re baked to order.

    Cookies with sugar and spice and everything nice. With three kinds of ginger: crystallized ginger, ginger root and ground ginger.
    Ginger cookies baked in five delicious flavors that will sizzle on your palate:

  • Ginger & Chocolate Chunk
  • Ginger & Lemon
  • Ginger & Oatmeal Cranberry
  • Ginger & Orange
  • Original Ginger
    All are delicious and very special. Who’d have thought that a classic ginger cookie, popular since the Middle Ages, could be improved?
    Options include:

  • 12-Piece Cookie Gift Tins, choice of 2 flavors: $24.00
  • 24-Piece Cookie Gift Tins, choice of 4 flavors: $48.00
  • Subscriptions: 3-month subscription, $75; 6-month subscription, $150.00
  • 12 Two-Cookie Snack Packs (24 cookies, no gift tin) $36.00
    The tins are great for storing tea when the cookies are gone.

    Head to to place your order.

    While Finally Ginger calls itself a ginger cookie, it is a hybrid—a hard cookie with a snap, with a textured surface dotted with sparkling sugar.

  • A ginger cookie is a soft, molasses-type cookie that is flavored with ginger and other spices. It is larger than, and otherwise differs from, a gingersnap Crusaders returning from the Middle East brought ginger and other spices.
  • A gingersnap is a thin, plain round cookie with a hard, smooth texture like a gingerbread cookie. It is a smaller version of the traditional German Christmas cookie known as Lebkuchen. Like a gingerbread cookie, ginger snaps break with a “snap.” Gingersnaps contain a larger amount of ginger, and thus are spicier, than the chewier ginger cookies.
  • Gingerbread is a fancier affair, often cut into special shapes (cottages, flowers, hearts, horses, people, trees, etc., along with 3-D houses and carousels) and hand-decorated with icing and candies. Monks made the first gingerbread for holidays and festivals. The tale of Hansel and Gretel, published in 1812 (as part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales), vastly increased the popularity of gingerbread cookies and other treats, such as gingerbread Christmas cards. Gingerbread men and animals became popular Christmas tree ornaments.

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Le Brownie, The Perfect Party Favor Or Stocking Stuffer

    There are more than a few places in the U.S. named Pain d’Avignon, and many more worldwide.

    Avignon is a town in southeastern France, on the Rhone River. It was the seat of the papacy from 1309 to 1378.

    Its medieval Palais des Papes, cathedral, Pont d’Avignon (the historic bridge over the Rhone), and the entire ancient town enclosed in medieval ramparts have helped to make the town a major tourist destination. Avignon became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

    The Festival d’Avignon, established in 1947 and held each July, is considered one of the world’s greatest festivals.

    There’s also great local cuisine. “Quality restaurants are easy to find and good food is hard to miss,” says Naomi Bishop of Eat Your World.

    Cultural background concluded, it’s now time to…


    Pain d’Avignon means bread of Avignon, which is just part of the tasty cuisine. Like “Bistro de Paris,” it has become a popular name for French-style bakeries, cafés and restaurants.

    Today’s focus is Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, Massachusetts, a café-boulangerie (bakery-café), that began baking artisan bread in 1992. It expanded to pastries, and then to an entire café menu.

    Alas, you can’t get the bread and pastries unless you live locally. But you can buy the biscotti, brownies, gourmet granola bars and raspberry shortbread on line—shrink-wrapped and waiting to be presented to your friends and family, as:

    • Party favors
    • Stocking stuffers
    • Anytime little gifts

    But aren’t there good brownies in most places?

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    Le Brownie Bite

    Le Brownie and Le Brownie Bite, from Pain d’Avignon. Get lots!

    We enjoyed everything we tasted, but we’re going to load up on Le Brownie.Le Brownie has three benefits:

    • Size. Le Brownie is a perfect size, 5″ x 1″, for when you just want a small treat. For an even smaller treat, Le Brownie Bite is one-third the size—truly a bite. They’re very good for portion control.
    • Price. We can’t find anything this good at this price where we live: $2.75 per Le Brownie, $2.00 per Le Brownie Bite.
    • Taste. They’re way better than “good”: They’re deeply chocolate and nut free (so everyone can enjoy them), a very satisfying brownie experience.


    Head to and order lots!

    You can never order too much: The brownies keep well in the freezer (and, we hesitate to admit, taste equally good frozen).


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Bundt Cakes

    Classic Bundt Cake With Topping

    Chai Spice Bundt

    Gingerbread Bundt Cake

    Orange Bourbon Pound Cake

    Red Velvet Stained Glass Bundt Cake

    Maple Leaf Mini Cakes

    Here’s the current selection of dozens of bundt pan designs. [1] Classic bundt served with bourbon pecan sauce (photo courtesy Spice Islands). [2] Pumpkin cake in the Elegant Party Bundt pan. [3] Gingerbread Cake in the Elegant Party Bundt. [5] Orange Bourbon Cake in the Heritage Bundt Pan ( (photos [3], [4] and [5] courtesy King Arthur Flour).[4] Red Velvet cake in the Stained Glass Bundt (photo courtesy Nordicware). [6] Maple Leaf Pan for cakelets or muffins (photo courtesy Nordicware)


    You don’t have to know how to decorate a cake to put a lovely one on the table. That’s one of the reasons bundt cakes are so popular.

    Although a classic bundt pan (photo [1] is always lovely, Nordicware, inventor of the bundt pan, produces many elegant bundt pan designs, plus charming seasonal designs. We can’t help ourselves: Every couple of years, we buy another one.

    This year it’s the Turkey Bundt Pan (how could we resist). Last year it was the Elegant Party Bundt (photo [2]): The flutes are narrower, creating smaller slices with no fuss. We’ve come to prefer it to the Classic Bundt Pan.

    Fall themes include:

  • Autumn Wreath, with acorns and leaves wreath
  • Tom Turkey, a stand-up stunner you can use as a centerpiece
  • Many others, including loaf pans, mini loaves and cakelets
    We looked at the entire selection, and found these styles to be fall-appropriate, including Chanukah and Christmas:

  • Crown Bundt Pan
  • Diamond Cut Bundt Pan
  • Harvest Leaves Bundt Pan
  • Heritage Bundt Pan (giant swirls, photo [3])
  • Jubilee Bundt Cake (crown-like)
  • Kugelhof Bunt Pan, the classic European turban shape that led to the creation of the Bundt
  • Stained Glass Bundt Pan
  • Star Of David Bundt
  • Vaulted Cathedral Bundt Pan
  • Vintage Star Bundt Pan 

    These recipes are from King Arthur Flour, the source for the finest baking ingredients and recipes.

    Be sure to read the tips from customers who have made the recipes (scroll to the bottom of each page).

  • Apple Spice Cake
  • Butter Rum Walnut Cake
  • Caribbean Rum Cake
  • Chai Spiced Pound Cake
  • Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake
  • Gingerbread Bundt Cake
  • Maple Pound Cake With Mable Rum Glaze
  • Orange Cranberry Nut Fruit Cake
  • Orange Pound Cake With Bourbon Glaze
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake
  • Rum Glazed Eggnog Cake
    In the words of The Great British Baking Show: Ready, Set, Bake!


    This recipe from King Arthur Flour fills a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.

    Ingredients For The Cake

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons gingerbread spice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup water
    Ingredients For The Glaze

  • 1/3 cup rum or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice; or 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    *Blend your own: 2-1/2 teaspoons ginger, 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon allspice.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10- to 12-cup bundt pan.

    2. WHISK together the flour, gingerbread spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl. Set aside.

    3. BEAT beat together the butter and sugar in a separate bowl, until fluffy.

    4. ADD the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the molasses.

    5. ADD the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the water, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.


    6. BAKE the cake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. While the cake is baking…

    7. MAKE the glaze by stirring together the water spice and sugar. Set aside.

    8. REMOVE the cake from the oven, cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack. Brush the cake with the glaze, and allow it to cool completely before serving.



    It started with a special cake pan, the Kugelhopf, from Vienna; but let’s begin a century later, with the modern bundt pan.

    The History Of The Bundt Pan

    The Bundt pan was created in 1950 by H. David Dahlquist, the founder of Minneapolis-based Nordic Ware, a manufacturer of kitchenware products. He did so at the request of Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield, members of the Minneapolis chapter of Hadassah, a Jewish women’s service organization.

    According to an article in the Fall 2005 issue of Generations, the newsletter of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, Fannie remembers a Hadassah luncheon when Rose lamented the quality of light and fluffy American-style cakes, and longed for the rich, dense cakes of her European childhood. These, however, required a special type of of pan—one with a hole in the center that allowed heat to penetrate heavy cake batter from all sides.

    With this type of form, a heavier batter could be baked without leaving under-baked dough in the center. Fannie’s husband arranged a meeting with Dahlquist, and Rose joined her to show Rose’s mother’s ceramic kugelhopf cake pan. This became the prototype for the Bundt pan (a contemporary aluminum version of the kugelhopf is shown in the photo at the right).

    Dahlquist modified the design by introducing folds in the fluted edges, and fashioned the pan out of aluminum. Some months later, a dozen Nordic Ware factory “seconds” were delivered to Hadassah member Mary Juster’s home, and Hadassah sold the pans to members for $4.00 each.
    The History Of The Kugelhopf

    The original kugelhopf, a Viennese specialty, is a sweet yeast-bread similar to brioche and panettone; the traditional version usually contains yeast, raisins or currants and is topped by a snowy layer of powdered sugar. It was a favorite of the Austrian princess Marie Antoinette (yes, that Marie Antoinette).

    Over the years, denser cakes were baked in the same fluted molds. The original molds were earthenware; later molds were made of glass or metal. The name kugelhopf derives from the German word Kugel, meaning round or ball (“Kugelkopf,” with a “k,” means “spherical head”), although the actual kugelhopf somewhat resembles a pleated hat like a turban or toque.

    How The Bundt Got Its Name


    Kugelhopf Cake

    Iced Apple Spice Bundt Cake

    Vintage Star Gingerbread Bundt

    [7] The Kugelhopf [8] became the Bundt, [9] which engendered many different designs, like this Vintage Star limited edition (photos [7] and [9] courtesy Nordicware, photo [8] courtesy King Arthur Flour.

    The way the story is told, the name bundt comes from the German word bund, which means “community” or “a gathering of people”; and that Dahlquist just added the letter “t” to the end and trademarked the word. However, there is a citation for a “bundt form” as early as the 1903 edition of the famous Milwaukee Settlement Cookbook†, 63 years before Dahlquist filed for his trademark on March 24, 1966. One can imagine that the Jewish women of Milwaukee had the cookbook and asked for a bundt pan. Still, Dahlquist was granted the patent.

    In 1960, the Good Housekeeping Cookbook showed a pound cake baked in a Bundt pan; that feature turned the Bundt into the number-one selling cake pan in America. But it was the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off, where the Tunnel of Fudge Cake recipe baked in a Bundt won second place, that launched America’s love for Bundt cakes.

    While many Americans spell Bundt with a capital “B,” which is the correct German spelling, for the sake of consistency with English names (e.g. angel food cake, apple pie), we’ve decided to use the small “b.” The exception is with recipe names, e.g. Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake.
    †In the 1903 Milwaukee Settlement Cookbook, “Bundt form” is found on page 319 in the following text (under BUNDT KUCHEN, No. 2): “Grease Bundt form (a heavy round fluted pan with tube in center) well, and flour lightly. Cream butter and sugar well, add beaten yolks and beat, then the raised mixture and the rest of the flour, and lastly the beaten whites. Pour in pan, let rise until very light, and bake until well done and brown in a moderately hot oven, about forty-five minutes.” (Read details of the Settlement Cookbook source material). The Settlement Cookbook, first published in 1901 in Milwaukee to raise funds for the Settlement House for immigrants, is considered to be the most successful fund-raising cookbook in American history. It is still in print; the 1976 edition was named to the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spider Bundt Cake

    Spider Halloween Bundt Cake

    Spider Halloween Bundt Cake

    Spider Bundt Cake

    Spider Bundt Cake Recipe

    [1] and [2]: Two different stylings for a spider bundt cake. [3] Set toothpicks between the folds where you’ll pipe the legs. [4] Pipe the legs, add the face candies, and that’s it (all photos courtesy King Arthur Flour).


    For working folks, today’s the last day to bake something special for Halloween.

    Every year, King Arthur Flour bloggers MJ and Gwen team up to create new novelty treats for Halloween. This year, it’s a giant spider bundt cake.

    Simply mix the batter from your favorite seasonal recipe or boxed mix, brew up the buttercream, and pipe your way to a creepy cake.

    See the play-by-play photos here.


    You can have chocolate or vanilla bundt cake any time of the year. For Halloween, go for fall flavors:

  • Apple
  • Caramel Pecan or Caramel Pear
  • Carrot or Cranberry Carrot
  • Chocolate Rum
  • Cinnamon Spice
  • Ginger Spice
  • Maple or Maple Walnut
  • Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pecan
  • Sweet Potato Pecan
    For The Frosting

    For the frosting, either chocolate or vanilla buttercream will work with any flavor. But you can get as creative as you like, as long as it looks like a spider (i.e., a tan/coffee color is OK, orange isn’t unless you want a psychedelic spider).

    Here’s King Arthur’s recipe for easy vanilla buttercream, which will frost two cakes.

    You can divide the batch in half and create two colors/flavors. For chocolate frosting, simply split the vanilla frosting in half. To the chocolate half, dd 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa plus 1/4 cup black cocoa which creates a darker color and more intense chocolate flavor. Mix well and you’ll have chocolate frosting!

    Go colorful so the face doesn’t disappear into the background color. The photos show two different styling options: the face on the front of the chocolate bundt, and on top for the the vanilla bundt.

  • For eyes: candy corn, peanut M&Ms, maraschino cherries.
  • For fangs: candy corn, red licorice shoe strings.
  • For toenails: candy corn, cinnamon candies or slivered almonds.
    You’ll also need toothpicks to assemble the cake, and a piping with a wide tip, such as Wilton’s 1A tip, makes the perfect size spider legs.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to the temperature specified by your recipe, and bake the cake. BUT FIRST, remove 1/4 cup of the batter and bake it in a muffin pan to create a separate cupcake. You’ll see why later. As the cake bakes and cools…


    2. MAKE the buttercream. When the cake and cupcake are cool, move it to a serving plate. Insert the cupcake into the center of the bundt and pipe the top of the cupcake with frosting, to make the body of the spider.

    3. USING the toothpicks, lay out where you intend to pipe the spider’s legs. The recipe developers left three bunt folds free for the face, and left two folds between each leg for a total of 8 legs.

    4. CREATE the legs: Remove the toothpicks one at a time before piping. Starting from the top, slowly and smoothly pipe the frosting up and down to the bottom. Tip: Twisting your arm to the side as you travel down, keeping your arm flat instead of straight up, will prevent the tip from flattening and will keep the legs nice and round. Make a blob at the bottom for the feet.

    5. ADD the face. To attach candies to the front of the cake, pipe about a teaspoon of icing in-between the fold in the center (left photo, above). Angle the eye candy (pun intended) to create the expression you’d like. MJ and Gwen decided that turning the oval M&Ms slightly gave the spider a mildly sinister looky.

    6. PRESS the candy into the soft icing and hold for a moment to let it set in. Repeat with the fangs and the toenails.


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