Homemade Butter Rum Cake

Made from scratch without the crutch of cake mix, this homemade rum cake is perfectly moist, extra buttery, and flavored with rum. Top with boozy butter rum glaze and serve warm or cold. Rum cake doesn’t require a special occasion, but it’s perfect for the holidays!

rum cake on wood cake stand

A quick search online (or a sift through cookbooks) will turn up with MANY rum cake recipes. However, you’ll notice that a majority use cake mix and/or instant pudding mix. Not knocking either (looking at you, cake batter chocolate chip cookies), but I definitely appreciate from-scratch cake recipes when I can find them. And I know you do too.

I’ve had many requests for rum cake and I’m so excited to finally share my version with you! This is my 100% homemade rum bundt cake and it’s even better than it looks and sounds. I didn’t know that I needed rum cake in my life until I took my first bite.

This Rum Cake Is:

  • Completely from scratch
  • Very buttery and moist
  • Lightly flavored with rum
  • Heavily flavored with butter rum glaze
  • Filled with brown sugar, orange, and buttery flavors
  • Not as dense as pound cake, not as soft as white cake (in between!)
  • Delicious warm + delicious cold
  • Topped with butter rum glaze

slice of rum cake

Totally From Scratch

Instead of using cake mix and pudding mix, I took a look at some of my from-scratch bundt cakes. Like vanilla cake and white cake, I have a standard bundt cake recipe that I use for different flavors including chai cinnamon swirl bundt cake and cranberry orange bundt cake. Both are some of the best cakes I’ve ever made because they’re easy, insanely buttery, extra moist, and dense… without being too heavy.

With a quality base recipe like this, the options are endless. Rum cake, let’s go!

rum cake batter

Rum Cake Ingredients

Because they’re so large, bundt cakes have a tendency to dry out. To avoid this, it’s important to use the careful ratio and ingredients listed below.

  • Flour: We use sturdy all-purpose flour as the base of this bundt cake. It’s strong enough to hold up all the liquid ingredients. I don’t recommend swapping in cake flour because it’s simply too light.
  • Baking Powder: 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder is more than we use for a typical cake, but it’s needed to help this hefty cake rise.
  • Salt + Vanilla Extract: Both salt and vanilla extract add flavor.
  • Butter: This is a very buttery cake, so expect a lot of butter!
  • Orange Zest: Trust me on this. Orange, rum, and brown sugar are a trio you need in your baking. The orange zest adds a fleck of background flavor without competing with the rum. My husband, who isn’t usually super descriptive besides the simple “it’s good”, complimented the delicious orange flavor.
  • Sugars: Paired with orange and rum, brown sugar is definitely welcome. We use brown sugar as the primary sweetener, with just a touch of granulated sugar.
  • Rum: We’re replacing most of the liquid with rum. You need 1/2 cup of regular, dark, or spiced rum. I tested with several and they’re all fantastic. We really liked the cakes with dark or spiced rum best. It does not need to be a fancy rum!
  • Eggs, Sour Cream, + Milk: 5 eggs, sour cream, and milk add moisture. It’s a lot of volume but remember, we want a mega moist cake with a buttery crumb.
  • Pecans: Perhaps the best part of all, pecans line the bottom (which ends up being the top) of the bundt cake pan. This added texture, paired with the butter, rum, brown sugar, orange, and butter rum glaze, is completely unforgettable– probably the best part of this cake.

rum cake batter in bundt pan

collage of 2 rum cake bundt images

rum cake icing in a bowl and rum cake with icing on top

How to Make Rum Cake

This doesn’t get any easier– mixing bowl to oven in 15 minutes.

  1. Add chopped pecans to a greased bundt pan.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Beat wet ingredients together.
  4. Combine all ingredients and add the rum + milk.
  5. Spoon batter into bundt cake pan. It’s a very thick batter.
  6. Bake.
  7. Cool for at least 45 minutes. It will still be warm!
  8. Invert cake, then top with glaze.

This cake is unbelievable when it’s still warm and I love serving it with sweet maraschino cherries on the side. Optional, of course!

Before You Bundt

  • Bundt Pan: Use a large bundt pan that holds 10-12 cup capacity. I love this one and this one. Both are nonstick, but I always grease it with nonstick spray just to be safe. The bundt cake releases so easily.
  • Curdled Ingredients: The wet ingredients will look somewhat curdled before you add the dry ingredients– this is due to the ranging temperatures and textures of the ingredients. It’s normal. The butter may be warmer than the eggs, the sour cream may be colder than the butter, etc. It will all come together when the dry ingredients are added.

rum cake bundt on cake stand

Butter Rum Glaze

Let’s finish this beauty off with a butter rum glaze that sets. (Meaning: it won’t stay drippy and wet.) Like the brown butter icing I use on my brown butter apple blondies, we’ll whip this up with some heat. Melt butter with a little rum in a small saucepan or microwave, then stir in vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt. The icing is thin at first, but thickens as it cools.

In fact, you might notice two different consistencies of the glaze in these photos. (2 test cakes, same cake + glaze recipe.) I drizzled the glazes on the cakes, but the thicker glaze had cooled for 10 minutes.

Thick or thin, warm or cool, this butter rum glaze is liquid gold. It would be incredible on my iced oatmeal cookies and peach bundt cake, too.

overhead image of rum cake

rum cake slice on a plate

How Alcoholic is This Rum Cake?

The cake itself has 1/2 cup of rum in the batter. It has a light rum flavor and the alcohol bakes out. You’re also not consuming the entire cake (well, hopefully not!), so don’t expect to get tipsy off of 1 or 2 slices. The butter rum glaze, however, has a fairly strong rum flavor. It’s not cooked, so the alcohol is there. Again, you aren’t consuming the entire cake and 1-2 spoonfuls of glaze won’t get you tipsy.

Use your best judgement serving to minors, pregnant women, or anyone abstaining from alcohol.

Want to skip the alcohol altogether? Replace the rum in the cake and the glaze with milk.

Print
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rum cake bundt on cake stand

Homemade Butter Rum Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, plus extra cooling
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Made from scratch without the crutch of cake mix, this homemade rum cake is perfectly moist, extra buttery, and flavored with rum. Top with boozy butter rum glaze and serve warm or cold. Review recipe notes prior to beginning.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (130g) finely chopped pecans
  • 3 cups (375gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100ggranulated sugar
  • zest from 1/2 orange (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) rum or spiced rum*
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk, at room temperature

Butter Rum Icing

  • 3 Tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) rum or spiced rum*
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • small pinch of salt (a bit less than 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 10-inch bundt pan. Spoon pecans evenly into the bundt pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and orange zest together until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The mixture will look curdled; that’s ok– it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and begin mixing on low speed. As the mixer runs, slowly pour in the rum and milk. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the cake batter evenly over the pecans.
  5. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with just a couple lightly moist crumbs. This is a large, heavy cake so don’t be alarmed if it takes a little longer in your oven. Mine always takes about 55 minutes.
  6. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 45 minutes to 2 hours inside the pan. Then, invert the slightly cooled bundt cake onto a wire rack or serving dish. (You can glaze and serve it while warm, or wait for it to cool completely.)
  7. Make the glaze: Melt the butter with the rum in a small saucepan over medium heat. If using the microwave, melt the butter in the microwave, then stir in the rum. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle warm glaze over cake before slicing and serving. Glaze quickly thickens and sets as it cools. If desired, serve with maraschino cherries.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the entire cake ahead of time (before topping with icing). Cover cooled cake and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before icing and serving. Baked cake can be frozen up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (if desired) before icing and serving.
  2. Sour Cream: You can use 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Just as moist and delicious!
  3. Rum: Use your favorite rum including light rum, dark rum, or spiced rum. See How Alcoholic is This Rum Cake above the recipe. If desired, swap the rum in the cake and glaze for milk.
  4. Pecans and/or Orange Zest: Both are optional, but add incredible flavor. I don’t recommend leaving out either. Replace the pecans with walnuts, if desired.
  5. Layer Cake: Use my vanilla cake recipe and replace 1/2 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup of rum. (Use 1 cup buttermilk + 1/2 cup rum.) Sprinkle the bottom of each lined cake pan with 1/3 cup chopped pecans before adding the batter. Replace 2-3 Tablespoons of milk in the frosting with rum.

Keywords: rum cake, bundt cake, pecans, Christmas cake

91 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,
    Is it possible that the icing recipe might be a bit off? I followed the recipe to the T and the icing turned out to be super thick and hard and was not flowy. I tried again with 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and it did the trick.

    1. Hi Gaana, the icing solidifies quickly so if it’s not drizzled on top shortly after heating it, it will become a little hard. Sifting the confectioners’ sugar always helps, too!

  2. Thank you so much for the recipe! Do you think it would be ok to halve the recipe and still bake in the Bundt pan? Or should I switch to a regular cake pan? There’s only two of us, so this would be a lot of cake! Also we were thinking about adding chocolate chips and/or fruit in the middle, do you think that would work? Thanks again!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Best way to reduce the size of this recipe is to halve it and bake in a loaf pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time in a loaf pan, but you can use a toothpick to test for doneness. Same oven temperature. For halving the 5 eggs–use 2 eggs, then beat a 3rd egg and use half of that beaten egg mixture. Feel free to add some chocolate chips or chopped fruit to the batter.

    2. Diana Johnston says:

      Hi Sally, wondering if I could make a large recipe of this by multiplying everything by 10. . I have a large family. Lol. Also, could I add the Frosting to the cakes and then freeze it with the frosting on. Any advise would be appreciated. Thanks

  3. Hi Sally! A regular visitor of your page, I absolutely love your recipes and seeing the comments above, I’ll be making this cake in a regular loaf pan and hence, halving the recipe. I was just wondering, since it is not a Bundt pan and regular loaf pan, is it possible to line the pecans/ walnuts at the top of the batter of the pan? Since this way they will be on top? However the cake will rise this way so I don’t know how to achieve the closest result to the one mentioned in your recipe.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Megha, You can certainly try to just sprinkle them on top. Make sure they are chopped to very small pieces so that they don’t sink in the batter.

  4. Michelle McMillan says:

    Hi Sally!!! I love your recipes & have used many of them during this crazy quarantine time. I do have a question about this recipe though….I’d love to make this more of a tropical flavour (and serve with berries ), I would like to use coconut flavoured rum and crushed pineapple in the recipe. Could you suggest the best way to do this, as the pineapple, even drained, does supply some extra moisture?
    Thank you! I look forward to your suggestions

    1. Thank you, Michelle! That does sound delicious but adding pineapple would require additional recipe testing. Let me know if you try it!

  5. Hello!

    I love, love, love your recipes. I plan to make this for Mother’s Day. For this rum cake, do you sift the flour?

    Thank you!!

  6. Shygirl317 says:

    Hi Sally!!! I am going to make this recipe it sounds delicious. I tried many of your recipes before turned out wonderful. Just curious if I left out the powdered sugar would it make a big difference. I realize I have everything but that in my cabinets lol. Thank you

  7. If you’re looking for a rum-y tasting cake this is NOT it. It tastes like a pound cake with just a hint of rum. FYI I used Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum. However, the texture is wonderful! It’s moist and airy and the orange zest is subtle and delicious. I would
    recommend soaking this cake with rum glaze instead of just the butter glaze topping. The topping just isn’t enough. I made this a second time and used a rum glaze of 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 water and 1/2 cup rum and boiled on stove for a few minutes. Poked holes at the bottom of the cake and poured half the glaze letting it soak in. Turned the cake over and repeat with the rest of the glaze. This made it perfection! I suppose you could also do the glaze butter topping that hardens in addition to soaking if you want to go all out. Otherwise the cake batter recipe is fantastic!

  8. Hi Sally is it possi le to use lemons instead of oranges? I’m asking because I’m allergic to oranges. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you
    Liz

    1. Hi Liz, you can use lemon zest instead or leave it out.

  9. Hi Sally,
    Can you use Rum extract instead of Actual Rum? I don’t have any Rum on hand however I do have Rum extract.

    1. Definitely. For the icing, use milk instead of rum. In the cake, use more milk instead of the rum and add 1 teaspoon of rum extract.

      1. Thank you Sally! This cake turned out perfect! Keep up the great work love your blog!

  10. Lee Rosenthal says:

    can this be made as muffins? or miniloaves?

    1. Hi Lee, You should be able to make mini loaves using this recipe. The bake time will depend on the size of your pans.

  11. use this recipe, the cake cake out perfect, Had to drizzle rum over it to get a stronger effect. Can the nuts be added into the cake instead of on top??

    1. Hi Janice, You can try folding the chopped nuts into the batter when it’s combined in step 3.

  12. Love this cake

  13. Hi Sally! I love your recipes and how detailed they all are. I have a question, any tips on making it a guava rum cake? and would I have to change anything to make it into round cake pans?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sabrina, See the recipe notes for how to make this as a round layer cake. We haven’t tested this cake with guava but let us know if you try – it sounds delicious!

  14. The cake is fantastic!!!! I going to play with the icing. My family likes the traditional soaked Caribbean rum cake. As an FYI I made this for my son’s 21st b-day and he was in heaven. Thanks!

  15. Hi Sally,

    Silly question, I can only find this same pan but 9.5inches instead of 10. Any difference in baking time?

    Also, for the layer cake version-you suggested to follow your vanilla cake. The only difference is the buttermilk and rum measurements, and pecans, everything else remains the same?

    Thanks!
    Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa, the batter should squeeze into a 9.5 inch bundt pan. The bake time will be about the same. And yes, for the layer cake, everything else remains the same besides subbing in some rum and adding the pecans.

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