Nutmeg Cake

This nutmeg cake is essentially spice cake soaked through and through with rum syrup. It’s as simple to make as a quick bread and it makes a lovely (and tipsy) gift when wrapped in parchment paper and tied with a bow.

Slices of glazed nutmeg pound cake on a white cutting board

No ordinary spice cake or quick bread, this deceptively simple nutmeg loaf has a spectacular depth of flavor thanks to it being drenched in a boozy rum-spiked simple syrup. What a lovely gift this quick cake makes when wrapped in parchment, tied with a bow, and packaged with a handwritten recipe. You may wish to make a couple loaves—one to gift, one to keep. You know, just to stave off gifters’ remorse.–Renee Schettler

Nutmeg Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (6)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 12 | Makes 1 loaf
5/5 - 6 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Warm Bread and Honey Cake cookbook

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Special Equipment: 1 pound loaf pan


  • For the rum syrup (optional)


Make the nutmeg cake

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter a loaf pan, line the base of the pan with parchment paper cut to fit, and dust the pan and parchment with flour. Tap out any excess.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

Beat the butter with a mixer or by hand until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Whisk the eggs loosely in a small bowl and then add the vanilla extract. Add the egg to the butter mixture in two batches, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Use a whisk as you would a spoon to fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Make the rum syrup

In a small bowl combine the sugar syrup and rum.

Finish the cake

Remove the pan from the oven and use a skewer to pierce the cake all the way down to the bottom in several places. Slowly pour the rum syrup over the surface of the cake. Let the cake cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then gently transfer it, right side up, to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest overnight before slicing since the flavor of the cake matures with time. Originally published December 10, 2010.

Print RecipeBuy the Warm Bread and Honey Cake cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

I made this nutmeg cake without the rum syrup, as it was a last-minute “I-have-to-take-something-home-baked-into-work” decision. I can imagine that the syrup would’ve added an extra dimension to the already lovely flavor in this moist cake. It was a great hit—especially with my colleagues who don’t like overly sweet baked goods. The amount of nutmeg is enough to give a flavor that’s identifiable and warming, but not overpowering. I’ll definitely make it again.

This nutmeg cake with rum syrup is perfect for dessert, but it’s also lovely for brunch and with afternoon coffee or tea. It’s a simple recipe, letting the mixer do most of the work. What’s especially nice about this cake is that it’s not overly sweet, alcoholic, or fussy. It’s unassuming but still special.

Make sure that the tester comes out perfectly clean, since the rum syrup will cause a slightly underdone center to become a little gummy. It tastes fine, but doesn’t look very pretty. And use an actual nutmeg or extremely fresh grated nutmeg, since it’s the main flavor.


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  1. This small cake is delicious! The nutmeg is subtle and the rum syrup adds complexity of flavor. I followed the suggestion of a previous comment and made it in a small tin. Perfect for a pair of empty nesters.

  2. I would love to try your recipe. If I don’t make the rum syrup, should I increase the amount of brown sugar in the batter?


    1. Hi Marta, the rum syrup is completely optional so you don’t need to make any adjustment to the cake recipe. Let us know when you give it a whirl.

  3. Amazing! I bake nonstop and have been for more than 50 years, and this is one of the best quick breads I’ve come across. The crumb is unbelievably moist and tender. It literally melts in your mouth. Despite the rum syrup, the cake isn’t overly sweet. The flavor is unique, and lip-smacking. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe. It’s perfect as written. This is a skimpy batter which bakes into a shallow cake. I used an 8 x 4″ loaf pan but would use a smaller pan the next time, or make 1.5X the recipe. I made a quarter recipe of the rum syrup and used 1/2 cup on the cake. There was a bit of syrup left over. The cake slices cleanly and freezes beautifully. Outstanding and very addictive!

    1. LOVE all of what you typed, Sadie! Love it. Many, many thanks for taking the time to let us know how pleased you were with this! Thrilled to hear you you like it so. Wishing you and yours a very, very happy Thanksgiving!

  4. While the finished cake wasn’t much to look at, it was so luscious, so aromatic, and so strikingly flavorful, that it’s definitely going in my “must make again (and soon)” recipe file. The cake’s flavors were unique and well-balanced. There was no way anyone in my family could stop at one slice—we devoured it in no time, and we’re still talking about how heavenly it was.

    I didn’t use even half of the rum syrup on the cake and it was plenty moist, but that’s easy to control when pouring the liquid onto the finished cake.

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