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
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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. David and Renee…Two great suggestions. Thank you. I was really stymied and figured it was because of the nutmeg coloring. BTW – I knew just from the batter that this would be a winner. Definitely a “come…sit down and have a piece of coffee and cake”; A “cozy” cake. 🙂 JT

  2. Moist; light; delicious. Loved the rum sugar syrup with orange water. I think it would be wonderful without it, though (and you definitely do not need the entire sugar syrup for this cake.) One issue: The cake didn’t get brown on top but was totally ready to come out of the oven at 40 minutes. I was not prepared to risk having a dry cake just to get a golden brown on top. Any thoughts? Other than that: lovely.

    1. Joan, I’m with David on this one. And if for some reason that doesn’t adequately address the situation, well, a gentle sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar or a drizzle of a basic icing after cooling the loaf hides all manner of sins…

    2. Joan, so glad you liked the cake. One thought regarding the browning of the top: What position was your oven rack? In most cases, the middle is perfect. But I find that in sometimes putting it in the upper third helps things. I even, occasionally, turn on the convection element of my oven for a few minutes at the end of baking to aid browning.

  3. Hey David!
    I LOVE nutmeg and rum and will be making this cake at X-mas for sure. Cake with booze will be a HUGE hit at my house! <3

    Especially for me!

    PS. So cool that you hooked-up with Ree in NYC last weekend. She’s so much fun!

    Happy Holidays!

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