Rum Cake

rum cakeMike requested a rum cake for Christmas this year, and I found this great recipe at King Arthur Baking. One surprise ingredient is the packet of instant vanilla pudding mix, which adds both sweetness and moisture. It’s a wonderful addition, and I’m sure I’ll make other cakes with this technique in the future.

I think Captain Jack Sparrow, my favorite rum-loving pirate, would approve of this cake. Between the batter and syrup, there’s a full cup of rum in it. I used light rum rather than dark because I wanted a lighter flavor, but you could use dark or spiced if you prefer.


For the cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3.4 ounce packet of instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light rum (I used Havana Club)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour, for dusting the Bundt pan, sifted

For the syrup

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with sifted almond flour; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour (either weighed or scooped and leveled into a measuring cup), sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, salt, butter, and vegetable oil. Mix on low speed until the mixture looks sandy. Beat in milk, then add eggs, one at a time, scraping down your bowl a few times to ensure everything combines completely. Stir in rum and vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside while you make the syrup.

For the syrup, combine butter, water, sugar, salt, and rum in a medium saucepan. Bring to a full boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Poke holes all over the cake using a skewer and ladle over about 1/4 cup of the syrup, allowing it to soak in completely before you add the next 1/4 cup. Repeat with remaining syrup until it’s all absorbed. Cool in the pan, then cover with foil and leave at room temperature overnight to set. Full disclosure: I didn’t do this – I let it set for about 8 hours, then turned it onto my cake plate. If you do leave it to sit overnight and the cake sticks to the pan because of the syrup, turn your oven on at 350 degrees and allow the cake to sit inside as it heats up for about 10 minutes to loosen the syrup. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Makes about 16 slices.


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