by David Fisco
4 January 2015
Word count: 526
Dessert | Baking

Soft and rich, this cake provides all the flavors of a Mai Tai: the fruit, the almonds and rose water, and the rum.

  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • .5 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • .5 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups (360 grams) bleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • zest of one orange
  • .75 cup pulp-free orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • .25 cup white rum
  • 1.5 cups minimally-processed sugar (I use Florida Crystals.)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or spray two 9”x3” round baking pans and set them aside.

Put the four egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a metal whip. Whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whip on medium-high to high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the white sugar and whip on medium-high to high speed until firm, glossy peaks form. Do not allow the egg whites to become dry. Place the egg whites in a bowl large enough for folding. Rinse and dry your mixer’s bowl.

Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment. Combine the sifted flour and baking powder in the mixer’s bowl. Turn the mixer on at its lowest setting and allow the ingredients to mix for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the canola oil and allow it to combine with the flour on the mixer’s lowest setting. Continue until all of the flour is coated with the oil.

Place a Microplane grater over the mixer’s bowl and remove the zest of an orange into the bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, salt, almond extract and rose water. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Pour into the mixer’s bowl. Add the rum and minimally-processed sugar to the bowl and beat on low speed until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if necessary.

Add the four egg yolks to the bowl and beat on low speed until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape again, if necessary.

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and allow it to beat for three minutes.

Stir .25 cup of the egg whites into the mixer bowl to lighten the batter. Fold the batter, in thirds, into the egg whites. Be careful to deflate the egg whites as little as possible.

Divide the batter evenly between your pans and bake for 29-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack in the baking pans for 10 minutes, then remove the cake layers from the pans and cool on a wire rack until room temperature.


  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 16 ounces American (full fat) cream cheese
  • zest of two limes
  • 1 tablespoon strained lime juice

In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cream cheese. Place a Microplane grater over the bowl and remove the zest of two limes into the bowl. Filter one tablespoon of the lime juice and place it in the bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the ingredients until smooth.