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This boozy, buttery rum cake is guaranteed to be the life of the party.
My maternal grandmother loved to bake and was famous for her rum cake. The cake was the hit of every family gathering, and no one could pass through her kitchen without sneaking just one more slice. She always kept the recipe a closely guarded secret, but when I became interested in cooking, she told me it was a Duncan Hines cake mix doctored up with instant vanilla pudding, butter, and lots of rum. Who knew?! (It’d be hard to keep the recipe a secret anymore. It’s all over the internet; just google “Bacardi rum cake.”) I’ve always wanted to recreate the cake from scratch, so I came up with this recipe, which is hardly any more work than the semi-homemade version. My grandmother would probably say it’s not as good as hers, but I think it comes pretty close!
Rum cake is a traditional Caribbean dessert that dates back to the days of sugar plantations, as rum is a liquor made from sugarcane. The most well-known version of Caribbean rum cake, known as black cake because of its intensely dark color, is a fruitcake made from a variety of dried fruits soaked in rum for several weeks or even months before being baked. This lighter version is made by soaking a moist butter cake in a syrup of butter, sugar, and dark rum, giving it a rich, boozy flavor. There’s almost a cup of rum in the cake, so it’s definitely not for young kids or anyone avoiding alcohol. For a similar cake that’s booze-free, try my Kentucky butter cake.
What you’ll need To Make Rum Cake
Begin by combining the eggs, egg yolks, rum, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
Whisk and set aside.
Combine the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat on low speed to combine.
Add the butter.
Beat for a few minutes until combined.
Add one-third of the liquid ingredients and mix on low to combine.
Increase the speed to medium and beat for two minutes more.
Add another third of the liquid.
Mix on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for two minutes.
Add the remaining liquid.
Beat and scrape as before.
Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan.
Bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
While the cake bakes, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, melt the butter.
Add the sugar and water and bring to a boil; then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
It will thicken as it sits.
Using a toothpick or skewer, poke holes all over the bottom of the cake.
Brush or spoon half of the glaze over the cake and let it soak in.
Invert the cake onto a platter. Brush or spoon the remaining glaze over the top and sides of the cake.
Let the cake cool completely before serving.
The cake portion of this recipe is based on a recipe from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. I changed the process, replaced the all-purpose flour with cake flour, swapped the white rum for dark rum and omitted the almonds. The glaze recipe is from my grandmother.
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This boozy, buttery rum cake is guaranteed to be the life of the party.
For the Cake
- 4 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- ½ cup dark rum
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2½ cups cake flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off (see note)
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
For the Glaze
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
- Generous pinch of salt
For the Cake
- Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy or Pam with Flour. (Alternatively, grease the pan with butter and then dust with flour.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, rum, vanilla extract and almond extract. Set aside.
- Place the cake flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to combine. Add the butter and beat on low speed for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are well combined. (The mixture will look a bit like cookie dough.)
- Add a third of the liquid ingredients and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add another third of the liquid and mix on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for two minutes, then stop the mixer and scrape again. Add the remaining liquid and beat and scrape as before.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the central tube and side of the pan comes out clean.
- Cool the cake on a rack for ten minutes.
- While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and salt.
- Using a toothpick or thin skewer, poke holes all over the bottom of the cake about ½-inch apart, going about ¾ of the way down (you will feel like you are butchering the cake; don't worry, it will be fine). Brush half of the glaze over the cake and let it soak in. If the glaze pools on the surface, poke more holes to help it sink in. Invert the cake onto a cake platter. Gradually brush the remaining glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake, letting it soak in as you go. (Go slowly so that the glaze gets absorbed, rather than drips off the sides.) Let cool completely before serving.
- Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be made up to 1 day ahead of time and stored in a cake dome or covered container at room temperature. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.
- Note: It's important to use cake flour in this recipe. All-purpose flour will make the cake dry and dense.
- Per serving (16 servings)
- Calories: 438
- Fat: 19 g
- Saturated fat: 12 g
- Carbohydrates: 56 g
- Sugar: 39 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Sodium: 145 mg
- Cholesterol: 127 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
This is a great recipe resulting in a tremendously flavorful cake. Mine didn’t turn out as moist as the last recipe I used (the pudding mix really elevated the moisture level – I’ve never had a cake so moist in my life.) But I think that can easily be remedied by possibly shielding the top with foil and baking it for only 50-60 minutes, then proceeding with the syrup. I baked mine for 65 minutes but the cake was already brown 35 minutes in so the top ended up being crunchy and the cake was drier than it could have been had I removed it earlier – lessons learned!
A winner!! Absolutely perfect texture and taste😊
Hi, I don’t have a stand mixer, but I’ve mixed cake ingredients before by hand, is it possible to make this recipe like that as well?
Hi Victoria, It will definitely take a lot of elbow grease, but I think you can mix it by hand. Enjoy!
I love to bake, but I rarely make cakes, so I appreciated the detailed instructions. My rum cake came out picture perfect and delicious! I used regular flour because I didn’t see the note about cake flour in time, but it didn’t seem to matter. Also, I didn’t have almond extract, so I used a bit of Amaretto instead. This was my “practice” cake for an event next week—next time I’ll have all the proper ingredients. Can’t wait to wow my friends!
I’ve been looking for the right recipe for rum cake that didn’t involve packaged cake mix, and this is IT. The rum sauce is to die for. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Six stars!
I absolutely love the texture of this cake! Do you think I could substitute the rum with lemon juice and add rind in place of the extracts? I made the lemon poppy seed Bundt cake and it was quite good but I think there is something really special about the rum cake. Not sure if it’s that I like cakes made with cake flour over ap flour. Thoughts?
Unfortunately, I don’t think that will work. The cake would be way too lemony with that amount of lemon juice (and if you cut the lemon juice back, the cake would be too dry). Sorry!
Another huge success! Made it ahead and froze as we were travelling for Christmas…everyone loved it. Thank you for another fabulous recipe.
Hello Jenn, I have Presto cake flour which already has the baking powder and the salt added should I add it in anyway ,what kind of cake flour do you use? Thank you,
Hi Mary, I wouldn’t add baking powder and salt to your Presto flour. I’m not sure how much of the two your flour contains compared to what the recipe uses so I’m hoping you get a good result when you bake it. Please LMK how it turns out!
I only have white rum on hand. Should I purchase dark for this recipe? You are my guru, by-the-way. Thank you for all of your recipes. I have both of your most recent cookbooks in my kitchen. Cheers! Sarah
Hi Sarah, No need to go out and buy dark rum – white will work. So glad you enjoy the recipes!
Was just saying that I needed to make the family recipe! Now, I will have to. Made many of your Thanksgiving recipes and everything turned out delicious.
I’d love to make mini bundts to give away as gifts. If I had a 6 mini Bundt pan, anybody have any tips on how long to bake or volume to add?
Hi Charlotte, I’ve never made these as minis, but another reader said she used a mini bundt pan with 6 wells and they took about 20 to 22 minutes, filled 1/2 to top. You should have enough batter to make more than 6, so you’ll have to bake in two batches. Please LMK how they come out if you try it!
I’ve been making this cake for about 40 years (the old cake mix way) and am glad to have a version with no cake mix necessary. This is how I do the glaze, which makes it so much easier: Take the cake out of the oven and let it sit for about five to ten minutes. Carefully invert it onto a plate and stab it all over with a fork. Put it back in the Bundt pan. Then take the glaze (helps if you have a saucepan with a pouring spout) and pour it around the edges and the center. Stop about half way through and shake the cake. Then pour the rest of the glaze around the edges and center again until it’s all used up. Shake it gently again. After about 15 minutes, invert the cake onto your serving dish (the pan will be hot still). I have passed this tip on to countless people and they all say it works so much better. Trying to get the cake to absorb the glaze by brushing it on is not nearly as effective and time consuming. Thanks for the recipe!
I don`t have the dark rum on hand but I do have some good quality rum that is the color of bourbon,just wondering if that can be subbed or will the results be compromised.Never made rum cake and would like to give it a go.THX
That will work!
I love your recipes & use them all of the time! You’ve been making me look good for years now!
This recipe looks amazing! Odd question for you. I was gifted a beautiful 10 cup bundt pan that I’d like to use for this recipe. Any idea how to adjust recipe for a slightly smaller pan? Thanks for any advice & all of your wonderful recipes!!
So glad you like the recipes, Julie! With a 10-cup bundt pan, you’ll likely have a little too much batter. I’d fill the pan up halfway and bake any remaining batter in a muffin tin for cupcakes. Hope you enjoy!
You wrote about your grandmother’s delicious rum cake using a cake mix then gave a completely different recipe with all kinds of ingredients including CAKE FLOUR which I never have. I love your column but this bait and switch recipe wasn’t appreciated.
That’s ridiculous. She’s not pulling a “bait and switch.” She’s telling the backstory of what inspired her to develop the recipe. Jenn’s recipes rarely call for hard-to-find ingredients and in this case she states that cake flour is essential to achieve the correct texture.
In response to a reader, Lora, on Mar 4, 2022, asking about cake four substitutes, Jenn stated -for every cup of AP flour, replace 2 Tbl with cornstarch (per The Spruce Eats.com). I don’t consider Jenn providing a probably superior recipe, which almost all of us APPRECIATES, a bait and switch. She also wrote that her grandmothers recipe was all over the internet as Bacardi Rum cake, again, NO bait and switch!
Hi, I was wondering if this recipe will work with a rectangle cake pan instead? Thanks!
Hi Sophie, I haven’t tried it, but I think it could work in a 9 x 13-inch pan. The bake time will likely be different, but I’m not sure by how much. I’d start checking it at about 35 minutes. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
Love all your recipes, and making my way through them haha
Unfortunately, my local store doesn’t sell dark rum. Was wondering if I am able to replace the rum with Cognac or Bourbon instead? Will there be a big difference in taste? Thank you!
So glad you like the recipes! The cake will have a slightly different flavor, but either bourbon or brandy will work. Please LMK how it turns out!
I’ve made this at least 10 times with a variety of rums. It’s definitely a favorite. The cake comes out so incredibly light and fluffy
I am making a rum cake for a class presentation and I am not allowed to add alcoholic rum to the cake. do you have any ingredient supplement advice?
Hi Luke, rum is important for flavoring the cake so if you can’t use rum, I wouldn’t recommend this cake. This Kentucky butter cake is very similar but doesn’t call for alcohol. When you do the presentation, you can let people know that they can tweak the recipe to make it a rum cake if they’d like. Hope that helps!
thank you for the idea, and it looks very good. Another question about the rum cake. if I make it, and I just don’t add rum to the glaze or supplement the rum, will the cake still turn out ok?
Luke, I wouldn’t recommend it as so much of the flavor (and some of the moisture) comes from the rum. I think the Kentucky butter cake (which is similar) would be a better option for you.
Does this come out as a extremely moist rum soaked cake, dense and a bit sticky? That’s what Im looking for, and was just wondering before I make it.
Hi Laurie, It’s moist but it’s not sticky or super dense, so not sure this would fit what you’re looking for. Sorry!
with the rave reviews I am going to make it anyways! Im sure it’s great
Am I able to use all purpose flour instead of cake flour?
Hi Lora, You can make your own cake flour — for every 1 cup of AP flour, replace 2 tablespoons with cornstarch. For more info, you can check out this piece. Hope that helps!
I made this cake and it was delicious. I made it in a fancy bundt pan. When the cake was done, it looked so pretty that I was actually scared to cut and taste it, for fear that it looked better than it was going to taste. Well, let me tell you, it was just as good as it was pretty.
Thank you for sharing your recipe with everyone.
OMG Jenn?! My father’s requesting a rum cake for the longest time. I tried other recipes before and I don’t peraonally like the outcomes. But your recipe hit it! Made it first time last Christmas, I am so amazed by how it turned out. Just received a “too sweet” comment from dad and my brother. Made it again last night for my father’s birthday celebration and I adjusted the sugar in the glaze, added a little almond extract in it and I stick squeeze pipette syringes filled with rum/rum glaze in the mini bundt cakes. Excited to get another feedback from the family later.
Delicious! Thank you for this recipe. It’s now a staple for adult birthday parties! I had to substitute the pastry flour for all purpose flour and cornstarch (2tbsps cornstarch per 1cup AP flour (less 2 tbsps)) and it turned out so soft and moist.
This rum cake is AMAZING! I’ve made it a few times and every time people rave about it. It’s going to be my go to holiday cake from now on.
Jenn, do not like almond extract
What can I use instead?
Hi Carol, you can just replace it with an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract. Enjoy!
I made this recipe and it turned out great! Thanks for the recipe.
This cake was AMAZING!! I made using dark brown sugar instead of light and it still turned out great. It was a hit with my parents and my in-laws. Will be making again for sure.
I know you said to use cake flour, but we’re gluten free in our house so I used a GF blend. We also try to stay away from refined sugar, so I used coconut sugar for the white and the brown. It wasn’t exactly what I expected (all the coconut sugar gave it kind of a burnt caramel flavor and it was pretty fluffy), but it was good. Used a mix of Appletons and Bumbu. I’ll definitely make it again, and maybe splurge on the real sugar next time 🙂
Just wondering if I could mix the batter up the day before, keep it in the refrigerator over night and then bake it the next day? Was also wanting to do
that with the carrot cake also. I am
going to be running short on time
and thought maybe this might save me some time. What do you think?
Hi Amanda, Unfortunately, it won’t work to make the batter in advance as the cake won’t rise well when you go to bake it. If you’d like, you can mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another and then combine them and proceed with the recipe when you’re ready to bake it. Hope that helps!
This cake was absolutely amazing! It disappeared in short order, because it was delicious, light and especially moist. Jenn’s recipe is easy (which is what we love about all of her goof-proof recipes), but more than that, the finished product is second to none.
Jenn suggest a dark rum, and I would absolutely agree. Using a dark rum is essential. I have been a rum drinker for years, and my favourite rums are either dark amber or just plain very dark rums, such as Captain Morgan or especially Kracken. Sailor Jerry is a great darker amber rum as well, but what I can honestly say is that you CAN taste the rum in the cake, and it makes a huge difference using the dark rum. If you have ever been to the Caribbean, you will have seen the famous and ubiquitous Tartuga rum cake in the bright yellow box. This recipe of Jenn’s is every bit as good, and frankly I think better, than this famous rum cake. You’ll love this cake if you love a good rum cake.
Put finely chopped pecans in bottom, great recipe, thank you.
I wish there were a way to attach a photo. This cake is not only delicious, it’s beautiful.
1) I made it with light rum and served it with macerated strawberries
2) dusted with powdered sugar from presentation
3) instead of “painting” the glaze before tipping over I poured by tablespoons. I made it before and this method worked better.
I went through such a debacle over this cake and it was worth it.
On flipping the cake, it broke (my fault), and after about 1 minute of silently freaking out I decided to just increase the amount of simple syrup and thicken it, thereby “gluing” the cake together from the outside… and somehow I pulled it off. Cover it with powdered sugar, melted white chocolate and white chocolate chips and no one can see its broken top. In fact, it turned out absolutely gorgeous.
Overall, people loved the cake and I thought the texture was great, dense yet fluffy and moist. Flavour was good; not as “rummy” as I would like but I didn’t have dark rum so that’s to be expected. Quite tasty, slightly boozy and good with homemade whipped cream.
I was just about to review this cake (which I love) when I saw your review. I was going to highlight in my review that using a dark rum is essential. I have been a rum drinker for years, and my favourite rums are either dark amber or just plain very dark rums, such as Captain Morgan or especially Kracken. Sailor Jerry is a great darker amber rum as well, but what I can honestly say is that you CAN taste the rum in the cake, and it makes a huge difference using the dark rum. If you have ever been to the Caribbean, you will have seen the famous and ubiquitous Tartuga rum cake in the bright yellow box. This recipe of Jenn’s is every bit as good, and frankly I think better, than this famous rum cake. So, my recommendation is try it once more with Kracken; you’ll love it if you love a good rum cake!
I made this for Christmas and added some rum soaked raisins. It was amazing!!
I felt it turned out dense still. It smelled great and honestly the batter tasted so good! But the flavor just wasn’t there when I served it and I couldn’t swallow because it was dry. I poked so many holes in it and topped with glaze generously. With that said, I converted to making cupcakes for COVID reasons; so that could have been it.
What is the calorie count for this cake, per slice?
Hi Barbara, I just added all the nutritional info for the cake. Hope you enjoy if you make it!
Hi Jen! I’ve made this rum cake 3x previously with 6 cup and 12 cup bundt pans. It turned out well every time. If I use a pan for 12 small bundt cakes and reduce the baking time, do you think it would still work? I also love you french apple cake recipe by the way and made it numerous times for the family. Thank you.
So glad you like this! Yes, I do think you could make mini bundts with this.
Hi Regina! I plan on using a 6 cup pan. What bake time do you use? Thanks!!
Thank you so much for this recipe! I have been baking it for my family for a couple of years now. They all love it, ask for it at family dinners and even show disappointment when I make a different dessert :). I follow the recipe exactly as written, and it comes out perfectly each time.
I was wondering, would a bit of ground ginger be a good addition to this? Thanks!
Glad your family enjoys it, Aida! Sure, I think a little ground ginger would work nicely here.
This is a great recipe! I added a cup of chopped pecans in the bottom of the bundt pan. Will definitely make this again. It’s much better than the recipe with the cake mix. Thank you for sharing!
Can this cake be frozen? It sounds delicious!