Rum cake. It’s every bit as boozy and as brilliant as it sounds. Inspired by the old-fashioned rum cake made in the Caribbean with dark rum in all its magnificently spiced glory.
“Not too sweet, endlessly moist, and shamefully boozy.” That’s how the creator of this rum cake describes it and we’re not about to argue. Best keep it away from the kids, the mother-in-law, and the pious.–David Leite
Do I have to refrigerate a rum cake?
As far as shelf-stable desserts go, rum cake is at the top of the list. Sugar and alcohol have been used for centuries, not just to make food more delicious but also to help things last longer. If you’re looking for a dessert that can be left out for a couple of hours and still remain as swoon-worthy as when you first made it, this is your answer.
For the rum cake
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup dark rum
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour plus more for the pan
- 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter softened, plus more for the pan
For the rum glaze
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup dark rum or less to taste
- Pinch sea salt
Make the rum cake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Generously butter a 10- to -12- cup Bundt pan. Add a tablespoon or so of flour to the pan, tilt and tap the pan to completely coat the inside with flour. Turn the pan upside down over the sink and tap to remove any excess flour. [Editor’s Note: The more thoroughly you butter and flour the pan now, the easier it will be to remove the cake from the pan.]
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, rum, and vanilla extract.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, add the cake flour, both sugars, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix on low for 1 minute or until there are no longer clumps of brown sugar. Add the softened butter and mix on medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the egg and rum mixture to the dry ingredients in 4 to 6 batches, mixing everything after each addition for at least 10 to 15 seconds before adding the next addition to ensure everything is well combined before adding more. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue this process until all of the egg-rum mixture is incorporated and the batter is smooth and no streaks remain.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 50 to 70 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. You want it to come out clean or with some dry crumbs clinging to it. If the toothpick has wet batter clinging to it, the cake’s not done. Let the cake cool completely in its pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Don’t remove the cake from the pan yet.
Make the rum glaze
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the butter and water and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and add the rum.
- While the cake is still in the pan, use a toothpick or wooden skewer to poke holes all over the surface. Spoon half the glaze over the cake and let it soak into the cake.
To serve the rum cake
- Once the glaze has soaked into the cake, remove the cake from the pan by placing the wire rack on top of the cake pan holding them tight together and then turning everything upside down. Remove the pan. Poke more holes in the top and sides of the cake with the toothpick or skewer. Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Ideally, patience will prevail and you’ll be able to let the cake rest for about an hour before slicing and serving. Originally published May 18, 2017.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This rum cake was a huge success at a weekend event and received many kudos for its taste and texture. Rum was the star of this show. I’d definitely experiment with the amount based on one’s palate. One person raved that the cake hit just the right note in rum flavor without being too boozy, while another person gave a hoot after taking her first bite and declared it off-limits for children. It’s a moist, dense, not overly sweet cake. The crumb is very fine. One person compared the texture to that of a cake donut. I found the texture a bit too spongy for my taste, but I was the lone voice of dissent. Everyone else loved it.
I felt that the glaze was essential to balance the bite of the rum. Patience is a virtue when buttering and flouring the Bundt pan. For me, this is one of the longest steps in the process. In order to ensure an easy release after baking/cooling, I make sure to get butter in every nook and cranny. The more detailed the design of the pan, the more time this takes. I used a 10-cup Bundt pan.
The perfume of rum, butter, and brown sugar lures you to cut a slice from this warm Caribbean rum cake. The piquant taste of alcohol is balanced by the cake’s rich, buttery crumb. I baked this for my family, none of whom are not drinkers, and all were seduced by the sharp yet decadent flavor. (I only told them after it was rum-laced…no objections made).
I made this in a 7-cup Bundt mold and had a bit of batter left for a mini version. The rich quality of this rum cake lends itself to small slices. Choosing a good quality butter is essential since it needs to stand up to and complement the dark rum. For the glaze, I used unsalted Kerrygold butter, but added a dash of salt which always helps balance the sweet in my experience. By accident my glaze boiled over in about 5 minutes, which did thicken it quicker than the recipe directs, but don’t do like me and have sticky sauce to scrub from the burner.
Now for the daunting part of removing the cake from the Bundt pan. If you follow the admonition of generously buttering and lightly flouring the pan, your cake, like mine, will effortlessly release from the pan. The entire process took me about 2 hours. One for preparation, one for baking, but it was all a pleasure, especially since it turned out so beautifully and deliciously.
This rum cake reminds me of a rum baba but uses baking powder instead of yeast to achieve the lift in the cake. I used light brown sugar. I used fine table salt and unsalted butter. I didn’t have a Bundt pan and instead used a normal loose-bottomed cake tin with a diameter of 22.5 cm. I buttered and floured the pan as normal.
I thought the final cake was pleasant but longed for some cream to add sweetness to the rum flavour. This would have been similar to the normal presentation of a rum baba. I’d make the cake again, but would try combining the egg and sugar first before adding the other ingredients to ensure they combine better.
If you’re a fan of extra boozy cakes, this is the rum cake for you! The crumb is so moist and tender and it contains tiny whimsical light brown swirls of glaze that made their way into the cake from the holes poked throughout. I used a 12-cup original NordicWare Bundt pan. My friends and family were split with regard to this cake. Many, myself included, found it to be far too “rummy.” However, others found the cake’s rum content to be just right. It boils down to a matter of taste. If I were to bake this cake again, I’d cut the rum content down to 1/2 cup for the cake batter and cut the amount of rum in the glaze to 2 1/2 tablespoons in addition to boiling the added rum for a minute or two after adding it to the glaze.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This rum cake is moist and has a nice strong rum flavor. Top that off with being easy to make and it’s almost perfect. I suggest beating the eggs before adding the other ingredients. It makes a more evenly blended mixture. Next time I’ll allow more time for the glaze to soak in while the cake is still in the pan. I will also use a little more than half the glaze while it’s still in the pan. I would like more of the glaze to soak into the cake. This cake just slid right out of the pan. I served this with some rum-laced whipped cream (made with brown sugar) and some rum candied pecan pieces.