Caribbean Rum Cake

If you've ever traveled to the Caribbean, chances are you've had the amazing rum cakes that the islands are famous for. Sadly, these cakes are not often found in northern latitudes; but this recipe is the closest we've ever had to the real Jamaican thing. It’s also a delicious clone of the dense rum cakes you’ll find in Italian markets during the holidays.

Yes, there’s a lot of rum in this cake, and it's definitely not for those avoiding alcohol. But the incredibly moist texture and rich flavor are deeply satisfying.

Prep
35 mins
Bake
50 mins to 1 hr
Total
9 hrs 35 mins
Yield
1 large bundt cake, 16 slices
Caribbean Rum Cake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

  2. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. 

  3. Place the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, salt, butter, and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and mix at medium speed until everything is thoroughly combined and the mixture is sandy looking.

  4. Beat in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl thoroughly, and beat briefly to recombine any sticky residue.

  5. Stir in the rum, vanilla, and butter-rum flavor.

  6. Spritz a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. For an extra layer of nutty flavor, sprinkle the inside of the pan with almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly; shake out any excess. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread level with a spatula.

  7. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. When done, a cake tester, long toothpick, or strand of uncooked spaghetti will come out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cake from the oven.

  8. Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the syrup.

  9. In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook (without stirring) for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

  10. Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour about 1/4 cup of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

  11. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit overnight at room temperature to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert onto your serving plate. If the cake won’t release, don't force it. Place it in the oven, turn the oven to 350°F, and warm for about 10 minutes, to soften the sticky syrup. (If your oven is one that preheats by making its upper element red-hot, place the cake on a lower rack and tent it with aluminum foil to protect it.) Remove the cake from the oven, and tip it onto the serving plate.

  12. Serve with hot coffee or tea. The cake is very moist, fragrant and potent.

  13. Wrap securely (or place under a cake cover) and store at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage, up to 1 month.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to make this gluten-free? For great results, substitute King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the all-purpose flour in this recipe, no further ingredient changes necessary. Be sure to bake thoroughly; gluten-free baked goods often need a bit more time in the oven.

  • The pudding mix adds a bit of flavor and sweetness, plus enhances the cake's moisture. Omit it if you like. Or use a different flavor pudding mix if desired: banana, caramel, butterscotch, coconut, etc.
  • Using the full amount of syrup in the recipe will make a traditional rum-soaked rum cake, one that's incredibly moist. For a less "rummy" cake, one with a more standard cake texture, make and use just half the amount of syrup.
  • Want to omit the pudding mix? You can; your cake will be a bit less sweet, and somewhat drier. Be aware we've tried substituting cornstarch, sugar, and extra vanilla for the pudding mix, and the result just isn't the same.
  • Bundt cakes can be difficult to test properly with a short toothpick. Instead, try a piece of dry uncooked spaghetti.
  • Want to make a non-alcoholic version of this cake? Here’s how:
    For cake with rich, buttery, vanilla flavor and undertones of rum — Cake: Substitute water for the rum, and use 1/2 teaspoon butter-rum flavor. Syrup: Substitute water for the rum, and add 1/4 teaspoon butter-rum flavor when you add the vanilla. Note that our butter-rum flavor is a professional-quality, extra-strong flavor; if you’re using store-bought rum extract, you’ll probably need to use more.
    For cake with more assertive rum flavor — Cake: Substitute water for the rum, and add 3/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons butter-rum flavor. Syrup: Substitute water for the rum, and add up to 1/2 teaspoon butter-rum flavor when you add the vanilla.