Earl Grey Rum Cake and the Dying Art of Conversation

Earl grey rum cake | www.gottagetbaked.com

So, how are you?

Good.

Do anything exciting over the weekend?

No.

Did you go out?

Yes.

Where did you go?

Out.

Do you ever have those conversations where you practically have to cross-examine someone to keep it (painfully) moving? This isn’t even an exaggeration – I’ve found myself talking to people who literally won’t say more than a word in response to a question. It’s awkward as fuck and I have precious little time to waste on someone who cannot engage with the English language. I eventually give up and just turn around to face whatever the hell else is behind me, be it another human, a houseplant or a brick wall. Even taking into account that some people may be shy, it still takes two to keep a conversation going. Sorry. Moving along!

Or how about the people who think they’re in a Shakespeare play and will spout off an hour long monologue? Though I seem like a rude cow on my blog, I’m actually very polite and considerate in person. I’ve become a pro at smiling, nodding, laughing in appropriate places, and mm-hmm’ing my way through “conversations” that are completely one-sided. Why is it that I know every excruciating, minute detail of someone’s day/week/month/year and they can’t even be bothered to ask me a single question? Or, they’ll ask me how I’m doing but will interrupt me in the middle of my answer to start talking about topic number one: themselves.

I’m an excellent listener. If you say something to me, I will listen to your thought in its entirety and I will respond in a way that lets you know I heard what you said, that I digested it, and I will follow it up with a question or a comment to show you that I’m emotionally invested. Please stay silent until I’m finished with my thought. Please extend the same courtesy I’m extending to you. I hate those conversations where the other person has seemingly finished saying something, I take their silence as my cue to speak and as soon as I’ve uttered the first three words, they start talking again, raising their voice so as to overpower mine to ensure that I’ll hear what they’re saying.

Really?

Is this really necessary?

What is unnecessary is me pretending to talk to you because this isn’t a real conversation. Conversations involve two people who hopefully like and respect each other, sharing thoughts and words and emotions. There’s sharing, mutuality, validation.

Earl grey rum cake | www.gottagetbaked.com

I’ve had conversations where I was asked a question, I start answering said question and then the person I was speaking to immediately answers their own question, talking right over me. So I fall silent. And then I listen to them talk for an hour before I really lose patience and leave.

I don’t think it’s in response to how self-centred and chatty I am either. I rarely ever talk about myself. First of all, I don’t think my life is very interesting, nor do I EVER want to be seen as bragging about any part of it. I never talk about the law unless it’s with colleagues. I don’t want to bore non-law-talking-folk with legal shit nor do I want to be seen as flaunting my brilliance. So I don’t talk about it. I dumb down my language. And this does a disservice to myself.

I am worth something. Far more than how I treat myself and allow myself to be treated.

The Husband and I try not to look at our cell phones when we have dinner. It’s hard for him because he’s a realtor and he gets a lot of calls/emails/text messages from clients and other agents at all bizarre hours of the day. But we do what we can. Whenever we go out for dinner, I always point out other tables to him where every person seated has their face tilted down towards a screen for the entire meal. No one speaks to each other. It’s bizarre. I’ll see them typing into their phones, be it Facebook, Instagram, text messaging, whatsapp, whatever. Talking to the faceless masses on the internet but not to the person sitting next to them. For.the.entire.meal. Alas, that’s the world we live in. Where the art of face-to-face conversation is dying. It makes me sad. It makes me want to quit this bitch.

I’m getting so cranky about the whole thing that I’d rather spend my weekends home, alone, away from people. And baking and eating this cake because it’s soaked in rum.

Earl grey rum cake | www.gottagetbaked.com

Earl Grey Rum Cake (adapted from The Baking Bird)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
the contents of 2 earl grey tea bags
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm, strong earl grey infused tea
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, all spices and the contents of the tea bags. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, warm tea, lemon juice, vanilla, sour cream and rum.

Using a metal whisk, stir everything together until fully combined. The batter will be fairly runny. If using the white chocolate chips, add them now. I’ll explain why using them may or may not be a good idea down below.

Spoon batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, approximately 55 to 60 minutes. While the cake bakes, make your rum syrup.

Rum Syrup (slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark rum

Melt the butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat. Once it has melted, add the sugar and the water. Boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the rum. Move back onto the heat and allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil for about 30 seconds. Add the salt and the vanilla, stir to combine. Remove from the heat.

After you’ve removed the cake from the oven, leave the cake inside the bundt pan. Poke the cake with a skewer to form holes on the top. Pour some of the syrup over top of the cake and let it soak in. After five minutes, pour some more syrup over the top and let it soak in. After the cake has rested in the bundt pan for at least 20 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack that is placed onto a pan or baking sheet. Poke the underside of the cake (now the top) with the skewer and slowly pour more of the syrup over top. Repeat every five minutes until the syrup has been used up. If any syrup runs off the cake onto the pan/baking sheet, you can scoop it up with a spoon and pour it back over the cake. You want it to soak up as much of the syrup as possible.
Earl grey rum cake | www.gottagetbaked.com
Now, I said that the white chocolate chips were optional and this is why: the batter is so runny that most of my chips sank to the bottom of the pan while baking. They stuck to the bottom of the pan and made it difficult for me to flip my cake out. The bundt came out of the pan but all the chocolate chips were still stuck to the sides. I removed them with a spoon and carefully arranged them back on the top of my cake. It doesn’t look that great but trust me, it tasted aaaaaaaah-mazing! White chocolate caramelizes when it’s cooked. The chocolate chips were crispy, with a deep, amber, buttery, caramel flavour. I loved it. I was actually picking chocolate chips off and eating them on their own.

This is one of the best cakes I’ve made in a while. The sides of the cake were fabulously crispy and the inside is incredibly moist. It probably would’ve been moist without the rum syrup but trust me, you have to use it. It’s intoxicating in the best way possible – each bite of cake bursts with sweet boozy flavour, which pairs unbelievably with all the spices and the earl grey. You’d think this would be a sweet cake with the syrup but it’s not. It’s perfect.

Store the cake at room temperature in an air tight container for three days, after which I’d store in the fridge (if there’s still any left!). The cake remains moist for days on end and would probably taste fantastic warmed up with some whipped cream or ice cream.
Earl grey rum cake | www.gottagetbaked.com
Who needs conversation when you have this cake to keep your mouth occupied?

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42 thoughts on “Earl Grey Rum Cake and the Dying Art of Conversation

  1. Those ‘like pulling teeth’ conversations are the worst. Gar. I *need* to make this cake as it combines many of my fav things [namely, alcohol]. Looks delectable.

  2. Omg I don’t always read blogs, just go right for the recipe, but the opening conversation caught my eye and I couldn’t quit reading! Nothing makes me crazier than someone only wants to engage in conversation – and then only if it’s what they want to talk about.

    Having said that, I cannot wait to make this beautiful cake! But I have to ask, and I apologize if I missed this in the instructions, but did you first coat the chocolate chips with flour before mixing them into the batter?

    The ingredients are on my shopping list tomorrow. Cannot wait to make it! Thanks for a great giggle to end my evening. Hugs!

    • Hey Lin, thanks for the fabulous comments! I’m glad I was able to entertain with the post. Gaaaaah – what a rookie mistake! I didn’t coat my chocolate chips with flour. Next time I make this, I’ll try that and see if the chips still sink. Please let me know what you think if you make this! Have a great night 🙂

  3. Oh, Nancy! I really love this post and was glued with each word because I completely agree with you!! I was JUST talking about this very thing with my sister last Friday while we were out eating. The table next to us had 4 people sitting there and ALL 4 were looking at their phones instead of talking to each other. It makes me sick and I don’t get it. I find it really sad that people would rather look at their phone that the person in their damn face. I, definitely love to check my phone and computer, but I WILL NOT do it when I am out with friends or out to eat. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine and actually a rule with my hubby and I to not do it when we go out to eat, unless it’s a specific call we are waiting on, which is rare. I find it incredibly disturbing the way things are these days. Technology is amazing in so many ways, but it has totally changed how people act. I mean, seriously, some people would DIE if there phone was taken away, hahaha!

    I also have a friend who never STFU while I am having a conversation with her. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and have been friends for yearsssss but everytime we get together, it is SO hard to tell her anything new or a new story, because she will ask questions and then attempt to answer them before I can even finish a sentence. I then have to shout, “wait, let me finish!” It’s incredibly annoying, but that is just the way she is and her only downfall and a great friend nonetheless.

    Ok, this cake looks sooooo amazing and moist, seriously one of the most moist and beautiful cakes ever. I LOVE the pic of the syrup pouring over…I can almost taste it and smell it!

  4. Nancy, you’ve written my thoughts 110% better than I ever could have. This is a piece that I’ve mulled over for quite some time, and I’m glad you were able to write it out–though it’s tough to call folks out on their inability to engage in mutual conversations and relationships sometimes. This ties so much into the conversations we had about self-worth: sometimes I almost feel not worth being talked about when I’m trapped in a unidirectional conversation like the ones you talk about. It takes a bit to remind myself that I really don’t have to subject myself to it! Good for you for walking away; I nearly never do (though I sometimes make polite and sort of smile and nod myself away from the conversationist–I do assume a pursed lips/body-leaned-back kind of body language though, and that’s a start). You’ll like this video, I think–it’s about the importance of looking up at the world around us, and I think I do it a lot more now having watched it: http://pulptastic.com/video-spreading-online-like-wildfire-see/

  5. Nancy! I’m with girl, 100%. . although I am sometimes that person, on my phone at dinner taking photos of the food, I put it away after I have taken the food shots. . but maybe I just need to stop doing that altogether! and ironically, the other night we were at dinner with friends and looked around and NO ONE was on their phones. . everyone was talking .. TO EACH OTHER! 🙂 the age range was prob mid 20s to mid 40s. . so a good mix. . but anyway, yeah totally hear you on this. I’m trying to be better about the phone thing when out at dinner and actually have conversations with people. . my take: we live in a not so perfect world and we’re in the digital world with all these gadgets and apps and social media. . it’s only going to get worse . . do you think there’s a happy medium? where people can embrace social media but still maintain real relationships and conversations? love this post! and OH MY GAWD, I LOVE the photos!!! esp the one where you are pouring the syrup over the cake. . gorgeous and pinned! have a fab day, Nance!

    • I don’t have any problem with people taking photos of their food at the table. But I will definitely side-eye a table full of people who are on their phones for the entire time I’m sitting in the restaurant. Oy, don’t get me started on the overload of gadgets. It’s pretty bad in North America but when I was in Hong Kong in December, every.single.person had their face glued to a screen. Even while walking. We saw so many people holding up iPads and watching movies or tv shows while walking in the crowded streets. They’d bump into people and poles, slowly look up, not say “excuse me” or “sorry” or anything, and just look back down at their show and continue walking. How are they not dying by walking into traffic?! I saw a guy a few weeks ago in Vancouver riding a bike and watching something on his phone. The world’s gone mad!

  6. Total truth about those awkward conversations or no conversations because of mobile devices. People need to connect in person, with the person in front of them, right then and there.
    Your cake looks so moist and I could totally see staying in and having a great big slice of it. Break out the rum! It’s time to bake a cake.

  7. My brother is like the first type of talker-it’s like pulling teeeeth to have a convo with him! Lol. And one of my biggest fears is that I’m the 2nd kind-I hope I’m not but I worry I might be a little bit 😦

    Additionally, I agree that it’s ridiculous how people can’t get their noses out of their phones. I try to force Michael to just talk to me when we’re out to eat, and I-in turn-put my phone down too lol.

    This cake is beautiful, of course, as usual!

  8. Great post. I nanny for pre-teen girls and im so worried for them! All they do is watch Youtube Videos when their friends are over. No convos, just Internet all the time. I really hope our social Media driven world dies down a bit. It seems people are reverting back to the old ways of cooking…whole foods, less processed, slow food movement, etc. so maybe (Fingers crossed) that will happenwith communication? Doubtful but one can hope 🙂 either way, we always have cake.

  9. First, that cake looks so rich and layered with flavor – I am pinning so I can make it, probably more towards the fall since I try not to use the oven during the summer. However, this moist little gem may convince me otherwise! Second – I was so glad to read your thoughts on the matter. My daughter and son-in-law, both of whom have advanced college degrees were bemoaning how our grandson screamed at the top of his lungs when he was with them, but not with us, my mother, or my son-in-law’s mother and they couldn’t understand why. I told them he was screaming to get their attention……they still looked perplexed. So I told them: Next time he’s screaming don’t just look at him and ask him what he wants………put the stupid #(*$Y#&^@! electronic device down – whether it be a phone, iPad, Laptop…..whatever…..and engage the boy in conversation and play just like we did when they were little. Or, they run the risk of him being antisocial and an angry screamer. Luckily, my daughter got it right away (she turned out so well *proudness*) and she even traded down her phone from an iPhone to a regular talk and text phone with no data. SIL? He’s not let his electronic security blanket go yet………..and he’s missing so much! if parents do not teach their children to converse with each other instead of tapping a screen to get Daniel Tiger or Bob the Builder……..they will grow into non communicative adults who tap a screen instead of saving a marriage or parent/child relationship or a job! Electronic gadgets are wonderful when you use them to make your life better but they are very bad when you use them to avoid your life in general! Okay, off soapbox now. Sorry!! Still, a lovely cake!!

  10. Tea cake??? Heck yes! I am dying over that syrup pour photo. Seriously, the photos in this post are gorgeous! And if it makes you feel any better, I thought the chips on top were just a delightful crumb topping. Totally on purpose right?

    And I HATE having conversations with people who answer with a single word. It’s so painful! My niece’s boyfriend was the worst at that. Eventually I just couldn’t think of anything else to say to move things along. Luckily they broke up so I don’t have to suffer through those the rest of my life! Ha!

  11. Remember wifey – our bedroom is a no WIFI-zone. This means no scrolling Facebook on your iPhone while me and Abby are pawing at you for attention! (Just Say’in!) That cake was delicious!

  12. Hmmm….let’s complicate the issue you raise her by taking it further. What about these young kids that don’t know how to spell (i.e. educ8) or can’t even finish a word (i.e. whatevs) in their written communication? I’ll respectfully disagree with you regarding your habit of dumbing down your conversation because I think people can learn something from you and don’t think you should continue to do so.

  13. LOL at your hubby’s comment!!! Such good food for thought here…both extremes drive me batty, too. Your cake looks fabulous…so moist! And I’d be picking off all the caramelized white chocolate as well…wow.

  14. Love the cake. Thank you for the recipe.
    To you and all your lovely readers who attempt to make warm and caring conversation a little word from the other side of the coin.
    The clue was in your comment – practically have to cross-examine someone – sometimes that is what it feels like, an interrogation.
    This does not apply to friends but often someone you have just met requires details of your life and your families life that I for one am not comfortable sharing. Unfortunately they are usually extremely persistent ( had someone follow me after I eventually escaped their
    questioning at a gathering last weekend). Please everyone don’t take this as personal but perhaps the person you are attempting to engage in friendly conversation has been bitten by my conversational stalker.

    • Hi Carole, I’m so sorry you had such a terrible experience with someone at that gathering! I don’t take any offence at all to your comment. People need to be more tactful and considerate when meeting others. When I wrote this post, I was thinking about people that I actually know (friends, family, coworkers), not strangers. I definitely never force people I don’t even know to talk to me at events. Why in the world would that person chase you around when it’s clear that you weren’t comfortable?! I hope you don’t run into them again. Thank you for taking the time to comment and offer a different perspective 🙂

  15. I would swear you are my long lost cousin, Nancy…The truth is I believe everyone feels that way about you because you are so brilliant at tapping into universal emotions and experiences…The pulling teeth conversation is equally as painful as the narcissicistic gusher…And I will vouch for the fact that you my friend are a good listener and reader. I always sigh a breath of relief that someone actually cared enough to read what I wrote….So bless you, Nancy…I should say doubly bless you (poor use of the English language but it’s the best I’ve got right now.) Double blessings to you because you’ve not only made me feel I’m not alone in my experiences of past conversations; but you’ve offered me comfort with this incredible rummy, spicy and tea infused cake =)

  16. Omg Nancy I SO identify with everything you’re saying here. That thing people do when they raise their voice to drown you out? SO INCREDIBLY RUDE. There are some people who immediately came to mind after reading this post. I snorted out loud when I read this –> “Though I seem like a rude cow on my blog” um, you do not. At ALLLLL. Just sassy and intelligent 😉 Anyway yeah, I am definitely guilty of checking my phone during lulls in conversation sometimes during meals, but I try not to do it! Such a bad habit. On the other hand, onee of my coworkers once told me a story of how she and her husband were getting fro yo. They’re both introverts sometimes they just run out of things to talk about and they’re comfortable sitting in silence, so they were both sitting their on their phones and a lady came up and was like, “don’t you know how rude that is?” So that’s not good either.

    • Sigh, there’s also a lack of common sense and common decency in the world. While I silently judge people that I do not know, I would NEVER walk up to them and berate them with my views. WTF?! They should’ve been like, “mind yo business” but were probably far too polite to say anything. Now THAT woman is a rude cow! 😉 Yeah, the raising-voice-people are my biggest pet peeve. It’s like, fine, I’ll just sit here and I won’t say anything because obviously what you have to say is far more important. Sigh.

  17. oh man. sometimes i catch myself on frigging InstaG when i’m playing with teddy. and i think about what he sees: his mom with her face plastered to the screen scrolling, scrolling. then i THROW down my phone and get right into some serious PLAYING with my kid!! it’s great to be conscious of that bullshit. reminds me of that louis CK interview on conan –

    PS upon meeting you in person at ruth reichl you are SUPER nice, friendly, courteous – were you dying to swear at barbara jo’s books to cooks? heehee… !

  18. Conversation IS a lost art! I am so guilty of being glued to the phone screen instead of investing in the people around me. I remember last year, realizing I wasn’t going to be at home much longer, and wanting these last couple years with my siblings before college to be ones they could look back on and say I was involved in. It is so easy to forget with so much going on in our Internet worlds! Maybe it should encourage me to quit some of it … there needs to be a line somewhere.
    However, I don’t draw the line for chocolate chips 🙂 This cake looks delicious Nancy!

  19. Girl. GIRL. I FEEL DIS POST. It’s hard to have real conversations nowadays, especially with so much online time that makes people think it’s okay to interact sole via computer/phone and nothing else. I have a rule that when people ask me how I am, I’ll reply honestly instead of a generic, “Fine/Good,” and it throws people off! But I want to not have a robot convo! All that aside, this cake though – rum for the win.

  20. I so understand what you’re talking about. I’ve tried to have convos with people who are super absorbed into their phone, or who can’t hold a conversation although I will admit I almost think it’s just the way of the future. I think that’s why for example I still keep a physical planner and try to put my phone away at dinner! I totally understand you spending time with this cake – it looks so good!!

  21. gurrrrrl, im right with you. people cannot converse these days unless it’s through a screen of some sort. it’s sad and kinda pathetic. I personally never got a smart phone til two years ago (im 21) so luckily i can still sorta carry conversation but slowly i feel like my smart phone is making me dumber.

    sorry you had to encounter rude people. if i ever meet you in vancity, i’ll be sure to listen and let you finish your thought

  22. I hear you, Nancy! I am often guilty to being too attached to my smart devices (I’ve caught myself on my computer and smart phone at the same time on more than one occasion) but we definitely have specific phone time outs such as dinner. As an extremely introverted person by nature, I’m almost glad that I didn’t have this technology growing up so that I was forced to learn how to make conversation. Also, yes please to rum soaked cake with lots of chocolate chips and whipped cream!

  23. I love this post! First, the cake looks and sounds divine. I’m not a big drinker but I strangely love the taste of alcohol in food and cakes, especially rum. Oh especially custard with rum … I used to feel the way you did about the art of conversation, especially when I moved from Australia to Switzerland. In Australia, when you ask someone how they are or what they got up to on the weekend, you often get a detailed answer that will give you a glimpse into that person’s personal life. In Switzerland, the folks are pretty private and the gist of any personal conversation will be like the start to this post. I’ve come to accept that it’s a cultural thing. But mobile phones at the dinner table is something I will never accept. People need to learn to take time out from technology and simply talk to each other!

  24. Funny how many different personalities there are out there. I am almost 40 and completely type A and have to constantly mentally remind myself not to dominate conversations or interrupt (my very type B husband reminds me when necessary 😉
    Gorgeous cake all around btw! Pinned to my Splurge Worthy board ;}

  25. Such a great post! I actually have two friends who only believe in one-sided “conversations.” I’m a great listener, but sometimes you have to say something to make it a conversation. They are okay with me yelling, “Hey, let me say something!” That’s how I deal with it. They’re still great friends. About this incredibly unique cake, I don’t see what the chocolate chips really add to it, even though they sound tasty after caramelization. The cake and syrup really stand on their own!! Beautiful!

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  27. I really hate it when someone is paying more attention to their cell phone than the direction they’re walking. It kills me to see how many people have their death grip on their phone. I sat at my mom’s and watched my brother and his friends sitting next to the campfire, faces glowing. Instead of talking to one another, they were texting. Bizarre, is right. I’ll gladly eat rum-soaked cake any day. I love that this is flavored with earl grey. It looks magical.

  28. Last New Years Eve I was having a Bunko party with Eric’s extended family. I was texting my family (my siblings who I hadn’t gotten to see that holiday season, in my defense!) and his Grandpa saw me on my phone and said STOP NOCIALIZING. I had to laugh, and agree. This cake Nancy? Get out.

  29. This rum soaked cake has been haunting me for days!! Love everything about it. I cannot agree more with you. Having conversations with people who just respond with one word here and there is frustrating especially when they are on their phone. The hubby and I leave our cell phones in the car on date night dinners to resist that urge to always be looking down on the screen. And I smiled at your husband’s comment above because ever since I started blogging and spending so much time behind blue screen, wifi is banned from the bedroom as well lol!

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