Rich and tender rum cake soaked in a rum glaze makes this decadent cake recipe the perfect addition to your next extra-special dinner or holiday gathering. Drenched in flavor without being overpowering, this moist rum cake recipe pairs perfectly with a warm cup of coffee and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Rum cake was one of a small rotation of desserts that showed up at my grandma’s house on Sunday afternoons. You could usually count on one of the following: rum cake, icebox cake, angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream, or poor man’s cookies.
My great-aunt made an amazing rum cake that was thick and moist, and of course, packed with rum. When I asked my aunt for the recipe years later, I found that she always used a doctored-up box of yellow cake mix (apparently everyone knew this recipe, and it’s now famously known as “Bacardi rum cake”).
I was determined to create the absolute best rum cake that wasn’t based on a box mix; years ago I finally found a recipe that I tweaked to rum-soaked perfection.
Typically served during the holidays, rum cake originated in the Caribbean as a dessert similar to fruit cake or steamed puddings. Dried fruit soaked for months in rum before being added to a cake batter and baked into this holiday dessert.
This decadent cake can is comprised of two main parts, the bundt cake and the rum sauce that soaks and glazes the cake. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, but below are a few quick notes, recommendations, and substitution options:
- Walnuts: Optional, but highly encouraged, they are used as a topping for the rum cake. You can also substitute other chopped nuts; pecans would be delicious!
- Oil: You can use any all-purpose baking oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, or safflower oil.
- Vanilla Pudding Mix: You can use your own DIY vanilla pudding mix or a 3.4-ounce package of instant pudding mix.
- Milk: Whole milk is preferred, but 2% will work, too.
- Rum: You can use whatever rum you like for this cake (light or dark); I typically use Myers dark rum.
If you want to make this cake alcohol-free but still have the flavor of rum, make these substitutions:
- For the Cake: Substitute the rum in the cake batter with an equal amount of milk, then add 2 tablespoons of rum extract along with the vanilla extract.
- For the Rum Syrup: Substitute any of the following for the rum: apple juice, orange juice, white grape juice, or apple cider. Then add 2 teaspoons of rum extract, as well.
How to Make the Cake
- Grease and flour a standard 10 to 12-cup Bundt pan (the pan shown in the photos is a Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan; another pan I love and recommend is the classic original Bundt pan). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts around the bottom and set aside.
- Whisk your dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt) together in one bowl. Then in another medium bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients (eggs, milk, rum, ½ cup of the oil, and vanilla extract).
- Cream together butter and sugar, then add the flour mixture and the remaining 3 tablespoons of the canola oil and mix. Then, add the pudding mix and combine.
- Add the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined (the batter will be thin!).
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake!
How to Make the Rum Syrup
When the cake has about 10 minutes left to bake, start making the rum syrup.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the sugar and water. Once melted, boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Pour it in slowly, as it will cause the butter and sugar mixture to bubble up.
- Return the stove and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds.
Soak the Cake with the Rum Glaze
This is where the magic happens!
- When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour about one-third of the rum syrup (about ⅔ cup) over the bottom of the cake. Pour slowly so it has time to seep into the cake and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Invert the cake onto a serving platter, then using a fork or skewer, poke holes all over the cake.
- Sloooooooowly spoon the remaining rum syrup over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. You want to do this step slowly (it took me almost 15 minutes) so that the syrup can seep into the cake and doesn’t just pool at the bottom of the serving dish. You can also use a pastry brush to brush on the rum syrup.
Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.
My favorite way to enjoy a slice of this rum bundt cake is warm and with a cup of coffee. Some other ways to enjoy this cake include:
Make-Ahead, Storing, and Freezing Instructions
- Make-Ahead: As you’d imagine, this gets better the longer you let it sit and soak, so you can absolutely make this cake a day ahead of time.
- Storing: Best kept at room temperature, you will want to wrap this cake tightly in plastic wrap to maintain the moisture. It keeps for up to 5 days at room temperature.
- Freezing: You can freeze rum cake! Wrap it twice in plastic wrap then aluminum foil, and place in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, or at room temperature. Do not unwrap until completely thawed.
More Decadent Cake Recipes:
Watch the Recipe Video:
If you make this rum cake and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️
Homemade Rum Cake
This moist and tender rum cake is made from scratch with a golden cake base topped with walnuts and infused with rum syrup.
For the Cake:
- 1 cup (113 g) chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1¾ cups (228 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (28 g) cornstarch
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups (297 g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ cup (99 g) canola oil
- 3.4 ounce instant vanilla pudding package, or ⅔ cup homemade pudding mix
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup (180 ml) whole milk
- ¾ cup (180 ml) dark rum
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Rum Syrup:
- ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter
- 1½ cups (297 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) water
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup (120 ml) dark rum
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a standard Bundt pan (12-cup capacity). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts around the bottom; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the 3 tablespoons of canola oil, and mix on medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes – the mixture should look like wet sand. Add the pudding mix and mix again on medium-low speed until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, remaining ½ cup canola oil, and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. (The batter will be quite thin – this is good! It will be nice and moist!)
Pour the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Make the Rum Syrup: When the cake has about 10 minutes left to bake, start the rum syrup. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, stir in the sugar and the water. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum. Once it is mixed in, return the pan to medium heat for about 30 seconds.
When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour about one-third of the rum syrup (approximately 2/3 cup) over the bottom of the cake. Pour slowly so it has time to seep into the cake. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Using a fork or a skewer, poke holes all over the cake – the top, sides, and around the inside. Don’t be shy – all of the holes ensure that the rum syrup seeps into the cake evenly. Sloooooowly spoon or brush the remaining rum syrup over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. You want to do this step very slowly (it took me almost 15 minutes) so that the syrup actually seeps into the cake and doesn’t just pool on the bottom of the serving dish.
Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. Leftovers can be kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Equipment: Standard 12-cup Bundt pan (you may substitute a 9-inch tube pan). The pan shown in the photos is the Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan.
- Rum: Use your favorite! I typically use Myers dark rum.
- Alcohol-Free Option: To make this cake alcohol-free, substitute milk and rum extract in the cake and try apple juice, orange juice, white grape juice, or apple cider, along with rum extract, in the syrup. (See post above for measurements.)
- Walnuts: You can substitute something else (pecans would be great!) or omit them entirely.
- Vanilla Pudding Mix: This cake utilizes pudding mix to make it ultra-moist; use store-bought or make your own!
- Serving: Serve with fresh fruit, homemade whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or salted caramel sauce.
- Storage: The rum cake can be stored, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Rum cake can be frozen, wrapped twice in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and placed in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, or at room temperature. Do not unwrap until completely thawed.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 567kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 236mg, Potassium: 197mg, Sugar: 51g, Vitamin A: 695IU, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 1.2mg
Photography by Ari Laing.