Welcome to King Arthur Flour's Year of the Bundt! We've been celebrating this classic American dessert with a variety of recipes throughout the year. Let's wrap up the festivities by raising a toast to the holiday season with a cake that's a party all in itself: Caribbean-Style Rum Cake.

Do you like rum cake?

Many of you are probably nodding assent, remembering the golden slice of rum-soaked bliss you enjoyed during sunny days. Or the boxed cake shipped to your door, just in time for Christmas.

Moist yellow Bundt cake infused with rum and soaked in rum syrup: that's rum cake. Simple as it sounds, the interplay of flavors (rum, vanilla, butter) and decidedly moist texture — this cake falls just short of oozing rum — are absolutely compelling.

Not all rum cake comes from the tropics. Those old enough to remember baking in the 1970s and '80s will recall the boozy cakes we used to whip up from a box of cake mix, carton of pudding mix, and generous dollops of "holiday spirit" — the liquid kind. Think Harvey Wallbanger cake. Kahlua cake. And rum cake.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Well, times have changed; many of us have ditched the boxed cake mixes in favor of our own recipes. Flour and butter and sugar, vanilla and eggs take the place of the long side panel of hard-to-spell ingredients typical of most cake mixes.

But that doesn't mean we want to lose our cake-mix favorites — including rum cake.

As 2017 winds to a close, and with it our Year of the Bundt bash, let's celebrate with this Caribbean-Style Rum Cake.

Don't worry, we've invited everyone to the party. For those of you avoiding alcohol, we've worked up a version using rum flavor. Baking gluten-free? One simple substitution is all it takes. Skim to the end of this post for complete directions.

Start by preheating the oven to 325°F, with a rack in the center.

Gather your cake ingredients:

2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (298g) sugar
3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free)*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (113g) milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (113g) rum, plain or spiced
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (24g) almond flour, for dusting baking pan, optional

*Want to omit the pudding mix? You can; your cake will be a bit less sweet, and somewhat drier. You can address this by adding 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and an extra 1 teaspoon vanilla to the recipe, in place of the dry pudding mix; but we still prefer the original pudding mix version.

Mix the cake batter

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.

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.

Stir in the rum and vanilla.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Prepare a Bundt pan

Spritz a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

For an extra layer of nutty flavor (and to help keep the cake from sticking), sprinkle the inside of the pan with almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly; shake out any excess.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Level the batter with a spatula.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Bake the cake

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.

Make the syrup

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

8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (57g) water
1 cup (198g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113g) rum, plain or spiced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Note: Using the full amount of syrup (above) makes a traditional rum-soaked rum cake, one that’s incredibly moist. For a cake whose texture is more similar to that of a standard cake, make and use a half-recipe of this syrup.

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.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Soak the cake with the syrup

Pour about 1/4 cup of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan).

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

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.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

Turn the cake out of the pan

When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert onto your serving plate.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour

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.

Caribbean Rum Cake via @kingarthurflour


Serve with hot coffee or tea. Or not; this cake is irresistible all on its own.

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

Rum cake without alcohol

It seems counter-intuitive, but you can omit the rum and make a non-alcoholic version of this cake. Here’s how:

For cake with mild rum flavor — Cake: substitute water for the rum, and use 1/2 teaspoon butter-rum flavor. Syrup: Substitute water for the rum, and use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon butter-rum flavor (added once the syrup is done simmering). 

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 use up to 1/2 teaspoon butter-rum flavor (added once the syrup is done simmering).

Baking gluten-free?

Want to make this cake gluten-free? Our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour makes it easy to make many of your favorite recipes (like this one) gluten-free. Simply substitute Measure for Measure flour 1:1 for the flour in this recipe; no additional ingredients or other changes are necessary.

High-altitude adjustments

If you’re up in the mountains, you may want to adjust this recipe for optimal results. See our high-altitude baking tips.

Looking for more "spirituous" cake recipes? See this collection of cocktail cakes, courtesy of Sift magazine.

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About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.PJ wa...
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