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Rum Cake — A double dose of rum in this EASY cake that’s supremely moist, buttery, and literally juicy from all the rum!! The perfect make-ahead holiday entertaining cake that everyone will LOVE!!
Easy Recipe for Rum Cake
One of the very first trips I took with my then fiancé was to Grand Cayman, where we stumbled into a gift shop that was sampling rum cake.
It tasted so amazing because it was moist and literally juicy because it was so loaded with rum. I had enough samples to likely equal a piece of cake, felt a little guilty, and bought a cake to take home before leaving the island.
I flew home with my cake, cut into it, only to be sorely disappointed because it was dry, not juicy, and there was hardly any rum flavor. That led me to believe they were literally pouring and dousing the cake samples at the shop with straight rum. It worked though because it got me to buy a cake.
I’ve always wanted to recreate that perfectly juicy rum cake I ate long ago. Fast forward nearly 20 years (boy, time flies) and in advance of the holidays this year I (finally) made a rum cake.
It’s everything you want in a rum cake!
Supremely moist yet surprising light, buttery, and loaded with bold rum flavor but in a balanced sense so that it doesn’t feel like you’re eating rum. Not that some people would complain about that, but I digress.
What’s in Rum Cake?
To make this rum soaked cake recipe, you’ll need:
- Yellow cake mix
- Instant vanilla pudding mix
- Dark rum
- Vanilla extract (or coconut extract)
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Kosher salt
I’ve gone into more detail further down this post on which type of cake mix and rum I recommend when making this rum cake recipe.
How to Make Rum Cake
The cake is so ridiculously easy to make! If you’ve never made a cake recipe with rum in it, you’re in for a treat.
I’ve given detailed instructions in the recipe card below, but here’s an overview of how this cake is made:
- Dump all the ingredients in a bowl at once, then mix just until combined.
- Turn the batter into a grease 12-cup bundt pan.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- After baking, poke holes with a fork over the top (bottom after you invert it) of the cake while it’s still in the pan, add rum sauce, invert, and repeat with hole poking and sauce adding.
If the rum cake glaze crystallizes before you can drizzle it over the inverted cake, don’t panic! Just give it a good stir and drizzle away.
What Type of Cake Mix Should I Use?
I prefer using Duncan Hines yellow cake mix for this recipe. Otherwise, any yellow or golden cake mix should work.
Note that when I originally made this cake in November 2017, 18.25-ounce boxes of yellow cake mix were the standard.
Since then, boxes are more commonly found in the 15.25-ounce size range. Although I have not personally tested the cake using a 15.25-ounce box of cake mix, I am sure it will be fine.
What Type of Rum Should I Use?
I used Meyer’s Dark Rum (not sponsored by them in any way) because I wanted bolder, richer, and sweeter flavor than a white rum like Bacardi can deliver. You could also try a spiced rum like Captain Morgan or even a coconut rum like Malibu.
If you test the Malibu option, I would use half Malibu and half of another rum because I could envision an all-Malibu cake becoming cloyingly coconutty, sweet, and off-putting.
Can I Make This Cake in Advance?
Yes! I find the cake tastes better as time passes and that it peaks about day 3, which makes it an awesome make-ahead-of-the-party kind of cake.
Love recipes like this when you’re entertaining because you can make it in advance, set it aside, and forget about it until the event. It’s the quintessential buttery rum cake and perfect for the holiday season.
Can This Recipe Be Made Without a Bundt Pan?
I’m sure it can, but I prefer using a bundt pan because it makes for a taller cake that’s perfect for soaking up all the rum sauce.
But if you don’t have a 12-cup bundt pan, I recommend googling a baking pan conversion chart to see which of your other pan(s) will work instead.
As far as I’m concerned, this recipe for rum cake is perfect as is. However, you could serve slices with one or more of the following if desired:
- Powdered sugar
- Fresh berries
- Whipped cream
- Vanilla ice cream
Tips for the Best Rum Cake
The cake base uses yellow cake mix and instant vanilla pudding mix. If you don’t have them in your area, there are plenty of other recipes out there for truly scratch rum cakes. I actually love yellow cake mix and for me this is a blessing rather than a curse that this cake starts off with a shortcut.
When making the glaze, use caution! Focus and take small children out of the kitchen because the mixture is insanely hot and flammable and you’re going to be whisking the entire time.
Allow cake to rest for about 1 to 2 hours to absorb sauce before slicing and serving. The flavors marry as time passes and I find this cake tastes better as time passes.
- one box yellow cake mix (see note below)
- one 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup dark rum (I used Meyer's Dark Rum)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla or coconut extract (I used coconut)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup dark rum (I used Meyer's Dark Rum)
Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan very well with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil, rum, extract of your choice, and beat with a handheld electric mixer on high power until smooth and combined; about 2 minutes.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. The batter is thin, looks a bit skimpy for the size of the pan, but the cake rises dramatically while baking.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack.
- When the cake has about 10 to 15 minutes left to bake, start making the rum sauce.
Make the Rum Sauce:
- Use caution, focus, and take small children out of the kitchen because the mixture is insanely hot and flammable and you're going to be whisking the entire time.
- To a medium high-sided medium saucepan, add the butter and heat over medium heat to melt.
- Add the sugar, water, and bring to a boil over medium-high/high heat. Allow mixture to boil rapidly for 4 to 5 minutes; whisk constantly so it doesn't burn (your shoulder should burn). The mixture should be white, frothy, and fluffy-looking.
- Remove pan from the heat and using extreme caution, add the rum while whisking because the sauce will bubble up vigorously when the rum is added.
- Return pan to the heat for 1 minute; whisk constantly. This helps cook off some of the 'raw' alcohol taste.
- Add the salt and stir to combine.
- Transfer the sauce to a 2-cup glass measuring cup; you will have about 2 cups of sauce.
- Poke holes with a fork all over the bottom surface of the cake (which becomes the top when you invert it and remove the cake from the pan). I 'stabbed' the cake in about 75 places with a fork.
- Slowly pour about 1 cup sauce over the surface, taking your time so that the sauce soaks in; set remaining 1 cup sauce aside. Allow cake to rest for about 1 hour to absorb the sauce.
- Invert the cake onto a cake stand or serving platter and 'stab' the cake with a fork again, in about 75 places over the top and some on the sides.
- Slowly and carefully pour the remaining sauce into the holes. If the sauce has crystallized, that's okay; just whisk it for a few seconds before adding it. I slowly add some sauce, and sort of 'press' it in with a spatula, and repeat. Some will pool down the sides onto the cake stand, it's unavoidable and okay.
- Allow cake to rest for about 1 to 2 hours to absorb sauce before slicing and serving.
- Note regarding cake mix: when I originally made this cake in November 2017, 18.25-ounce boxes of yellow cake mix were the standard. Since then, boxes are more commonly found in the 15.25-ounce size range. Although I have not personally tested the cake using a 15.25-ounce box of cake mix, I am sure it will be fine. I am partial to Duncan Hines cake mix.
- Storing this cake: The flavors marry as time passes and I find this cake tastes better as time passes (about day 3 it peaks). Store cake airtight at room temp for up to 10 days; do not refrigerate. Recipe is intended for those for whom alcohol is legal and appropriate.
- Cake adapted from AllRecipes, Rum Sauce adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 439Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 338mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 3g
Favorite Holiday Cake Recipes:
The Best Chocolate Peppermint Cake — Easy, one-bowl, no mixer cake! Decadently chocolaty, perfectly pepperminty! Your new favorite cake!!
Cabernet Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache – Now you don’t have to choose between dessert or wine since this is BOTH!
Easy Pound Cake with Powdered Sugar Glaze — Finally a homemade pound cake that isn’t dry!! This EASY, buttery, velvety pound cake will be the star of your next party or celebration!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake — An EASY, no mixer cake that’s perfect for the holidays!! Chocolate and ginger are amazing together!
Red Velvet Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you like red velvet, you’re going to LOVE this EASY red velvet cake recipe!
35 BEST Easy Cakes — Whether it’s a birthday cake, anniversary cake, or a just-because cake, you’ll find the perfect EASY cake here! Only the BEST recipes including chocolate, fruity, pumpkin, red velvet, and more!
Originally posted November 3, 2017 and reposted December 25, 2020 with updated text.
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