Homemade Rum Cake
Rum cake. A dessert that is nostalgic and old-school, and one for which just about everyone has a family recipe. Rum cake was one of a small rotation of desserts that showed up at my grandma’s house on Sunday afternoons. You could usually count on one of the following: rum cake, icebox cake, angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream, or poor man’s cookies. There were some weeks that we made due with Klondike bars from the freezer, but for the most part we got to indulge in one of those four desserts. My great aunt made a killer rum cake that I could appreciate even as a kid. It’s been quite some time since we all sat down to weekly Sunday dinners, and recently I’ve been craving a nice big slice of rum cake. I remember it being so thick and moist, and of course, packed with rum. The problem I ran into is that my aunt always used a box cake mix, and all of the recipes I found online were the same. I wanted a truly homemade rum cake, and thankfully, I finally found a recipe that I tweaked to rum-soaked perfection.
Remember yesterday when I shared with you the DIY Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix, and I promised a fantastic cake for which to use it? Here she is! In all of her buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, glory. I’ll be honest. I really enjoy making as much as possible from scratch. But I still haven’t found a recipe for yellow cake that lives up to the product that comes out of those boxes. They are so thick, creamy, and moist. Thanks to chemicals, I’m sure. But, still. Such a wonderful consistency that I haven’t been able to replicate. Until now. The cake itself is out of this world – so incredibly moist and rich. The exact outcome that I was hoping to achieve! And then of course rum is thrown into the mix, which can only make it infinitely better, right?!
The key to the cake is twofold. First, make sure that you aren’t shy when it comes to poking holes all over the cake when it’s time for the rum syrup. The more holes the better, as the rum syrup will have more places to hide in the cake, which means that it will soak into the cake more evenly, and won’t pool on the bottom of the serving plate. Secondly, when you drizzle the rum syrup over the top of the cake, you want to go verrrrry slowly so it has a chance to seep into all of those wonderful holes. In this instance, you want to be the tortoise, and not the hare.
As you’d imagine, this gets better the longer you let it sit and soak. Definitely make sure you let it come to room temperature, but you could absolutely make this a day ahead of time. Then behold all of the 100% homemade, no box mix, rum-soaked cake goodness!
One year ago: Scalloped Potatoes
Homemade Rum Cake Recipe
For the Cake:
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons + ½ cup canola oil, divided
- 1 cup DIY instant vanilla pudding mix (or one 3.4-ounce package of instant vanilla pudding)
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup dark rum
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Rum Syrup:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup dark rum
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a standard Bundt pan (12-cup capacity). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts around the bottom; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the 3 tablespoons of canola oil, and mix on medium-low speed for a minute or two – the mixture should look like wet sand. Add the pudding mix and mix again on medium-low speed until combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, remaining ½ cup canola oil, and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. (The batter will be quite thin – this is good! It will be nice and moist!)
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- When the cake has about 10 minutes left to bake, start the rum syrup. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, add the sugar and the water. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum. Once it is mixed in, return it to medium heat for about 30 seconds.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour about one-third of the rum syrup over the bottom of the cake. Pour slowly so it has time to seep into the cake. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Using a fork or a skewer, poke holes all over the cake – the top, sides, and around the inside. Don’t be shy – all of the holes ensure that the rum syrup seeps into the cake evenly. Sloooooowly pour the remaining rum syrup over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. You want to do this step very slowly (it took me almost 15 minutes) so that the syrup actually seeps into the cake and doesn’t just pool on the bottom of the serving dish.
- Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. Leftovers can be kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days.