Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.

Bundt Cake Saturday!

Morning: still dark
Mood: half-asleep
Music: that pre-dawn hush

Good morning.  And I mean that, especially today; it's still dark and cold and quiet outside, and the world has yet to wake up.  I usually love this time of day, except on mornings like this when I've come home in the AM only to wake early in the AM.  Luckily my trusty sidekick - a.k.a. Coffee - sits here at my right, so all will be well in the course of a few minutes.

Spent seven hours yesterday studying the second yoga sutra.  That's seven hours contemplating the metaphysics of cittavrttinirodhah, Patanjali's central definition of yoga, which declares that "Yoga is the cessation of [the misidentification with] the modifications of the mind."  That's seven hours of good dirty sweaty thinking and talking and postulating, followed by seven hours of headache.  How good it then felt to run around all night and spin and flirt and lift and shake and pour martinis.  I've never been more glad for my yin-yang life and its easy balance of the mental and the physical. 

This morning we're gearing up for Round 2 of the same in the three-ring circus that is this weekend.  So let's abandon the metaphysics for a refreshing few minutes and venture into that most non-yogic of bundt cake worlds.  I baked on Thursday, knowing there wouldn't be time today, so we'll slap up the recipe this morning and get you and me both on our respective ways for this Saturday in early March.

I ran across this recipe some time ago, and have been looking for an excuse to make it ever since.  It's a weird one, not something I'd honestly really expect to even like, but it's also so kitschy and fun that it definitely deserves a shot.  When I read a few weeks ago that the Fairmont's bizarro Tonga Room would most likely be closing in the coming months due to renovations, I knew I'd found an excuse to make this strange cake.  The Tonga Room - the ultimate tiki tourist trap, a weird little (literal) dive of a bar tucked into the bowels of the Fairmont Hotel up on Nob Hill - is a great place to take visitors who have yet to appreciate the wonders of an indoor pool-turned-lagoon where a band floats on the water and regular thundershowers rain down on the hour and umbrellas appear by default in every drink.  It's classic 1950s beach-bunny kitsch.  

So in honor of the impending demise of the iconic SF Tonga Room, kick off your shoes, throw on your best Hawaiian shirt, and put an umbrella in that morning cocktail, because we're going to make a 


Ew, I know.  Rum, and pineapple, and coconut.  Erghh.  Believe it or not, the thing didn't smell so bad when all was said and done, though my kitchen did reek of a strange burnt rum smell for a few hours after baking.  (Thanks to Derek's bundt cake cookbook for this particular version.)


1 package (7 oz) coconut flakes
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in juice (not syrup)
1 package pineapple cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/8 cup light rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; grease and flour your bundt pan.  Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 cup coconut flakes into the bottom of the pan.  Drain juice from crushed pineapple into a glass or small bowl.  Measure out 1/8 cup, reserve the rest and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, reserved pineapple juice (not the 1/8 cup) pineapple, oil and eggs.  Beat until well combined.  Measure out 1/4 cup coconut flakes and set aside.  Fold the remainder of the coconut flakes into the cake batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.  The cake is done when it springs back after being touched in the center.

10 minutes before the cake is done, combine sugar, butter, rum and 1/8 cup pineapple juice in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Remove cake from the oven, but not the pan.  Poke deep holes into the cake with a fork or a chopstick.  Pour the stil-bubbling sauce directly onto the cake.  You'll probably have to do this a little at a time, letting the sauce soak in before adding more.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 45 minutes.  Turn the cake over onto a serving platter.  Sprinkle remaining coconut onto moist cake surface and let cool completely before serving.

And there's your pina colada cake. Perfect memorial for the wheezing Tonga Room.  Or for when your favorite Saturday co-worker returns from Hawaii.  Or for when you need to use up that can of crushed pineapple that's been sitting in the back of your pantry for 2 years next to the bottle of Captain Morgan that you'll never drink.

Enjoy.  (And don't forget to set your clocks forward tonight!)


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