Catholic Recipe: Gateau au Rhum
Perhaps because our ancestors knew no other way so dramatic to show their awe and wonder at the miracle of Pentecost, they celebrated it as a combination carnival and feast day, with dances, races, games, and tables abundantly loaded with food. This was particularly true long ago in England, where the toasting and feasting on this day were notable. Whitsun ale was drunk, and a favorite dish was roast goose with apple stuffing.
French families went for picnics in the woods, taking along cold meat pies for refreshment. In Holland, too, this was a day for family picnics. Americans have no food traditions for Whitsunday, but a cookout or a picnic seems a fine idea. The more family celebrations we can plan, the better, and this late spring or first-of-summer holiday is a good time for one. Be sure, however, that the meaning of the day is not lost. Attend Mass, of course, and then strike out for woods or stream or shore and have an alfresco feast consisting of the foods everyone likes.
Or if you stay at home, make a dessert like that served in France on this feast day — a version of apricot-rum cake, rich and luscious.
Beat eggs until thick and light. Beat in salt, sugar, and flavoring. Heat milk and butter to boiling point; beat in. Mix and sift flour and baking powder; beat in. Turn into greased, floured layer cake pan, 9 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches deep. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan. Spoon Coffee-Rum Syrup (see recipe) slowly over surface of warm cake, covering entire surface, until it is all absorbed. Let stand until cold. Split carefully into 2 layers; fill with Rum Cream Filling (see recipe). Garnish top with drained apricot preserves and whipped cream.Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965