Make this beautiful custard-filled Venetian rum cake the day before you plan to serve it, and add the toasty meringue topping shortly before serving.
Venetian rum cake
1 large package yellow cake mix
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
6 eggs, separated by yolks and whites
1-1/3 cups hot water
1/4 cup rum
1 8-ounce jar mixed glacéed fruits for cake, finely-chopped
3/4 cup finely-chopped pecans
3/4 granulated sugar
Make this cake a day before serving.
Make and bake the cake mix as the label directs for two 8-inch layer-cake pans; cool.
Meanwhile, make custard this way:
In a double boiler top, place the cornstarch and slowly stir in the condensed milk, then the unbeaten egg yolks (refrigerate the whites — covered, to ensure no smell contamination); stir until smooth. Then, while stirring constantly, slowly add hot water. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens — about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Turn the mixture into a bowl and lay a piece of waxed paper that covers the surface of the custard (directly on it); refrigerate.
Getting back to the cake; with a long, sharp knife, split the 2 cooled cake layers in half horizontally, making 4 layers. Now, sprinkle the cut surface of each with 1 tablespoon of rum.
Combine the fruits and the pecans. Now place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on a heatproof platter. Spread with 1/3 of the (now) cold custard, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the fruit-nut mixture. Repeat, using 3 cake layers; top with the fourth cake layer, cut side down.
Refrigerate; then do this the next day, about 3 hours before serving.
Let the egg whites stand out for 1 hour. Start heating the oven to 375 F. Now, with an electric mixer at high speed, beat the egg whites until frothy; add 2 tablespoons of sugar, then beat at a low speed for about 5 minutes, then at high speed for 1 minute.
Repeat this process until all the sugar is added — then stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Use the meringue to thickly swirl on the top and sides of the cake Bake until the meringue is golden — about 5 minutes. Cool; Refrigerate.
To serve, dip a long, sharp knife in hot water, then cut cake into 12 wedges.