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What is Rum Cake?

Amy Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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The use of rum in sweets, such as candy and cakes, has been around ever since rum made its first appearance in the Old World. It acted as a preservative in an era of no refrigeration and ensured fruitcakes and plum puddings packed quite a punch. It is still used in various recipes. One of the most famous is the rum cake.

When used to flavor and preserve fruitcakes, rum was added gradually, over a period of several weeks. The baked fruitcake was kept tightly covered and rum was drizzled over the cake every three or four days, from the time it was made, until the day it was eaten. Fruitcake was a traditional English Christmas dessert, but it is also still popular in that country as a wedding cake.

Rum cake was developed to help popularize rum for cooking in modern American kitchens. Rum is a very sweet liquor and tends to lend itself well to more modern sweets like rum balls and rum cake. Rum cake is generally easy to make and can even be made from a mix. The rum can either be added to the batter, as is usual for a cake mix, or added after cooking, by drizzling rum over the baked cake and allowing it to sit for several hours. In both versions, a rum glaze is also used on the cake.

For a scratch rum cake, a cook bakes his or her favorite yellow cake recipe in a tube-style pan. The cake is allowed to cool, then is turned out onto the serving plate. The cook uses a thin skewer to poke small holes in the cake, and about 1/2 cup (118 milliliters) of dark rum is drizzled on to the cake. The cake is then glazed about 30 minutes before serving.

A rum cake made from a mix takes one yellow cake mix (without pudding), one box of instant vanilla pudding/pie filling (3 3/4 ounces or 106 grams), 4 eggs, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup dark rum. The cook combines all ingredients, and pours into a greased and floured tube pan. The cake cooks for one hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (162 degrees Celsius). Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Turn out on to serving platter.

The glaze uses 1/2 cup butter (113 grams); 1/4 cup water (60 milliliters); 1 cup sugar (227 grams) and 1/2 cup (18 milliliters) dark rum. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add water and sugar and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Glaze cake. Walnuts may be mixed in with the batter or added to the top of the cake after glazing.

A rum cake is a favorite holiday dessert these days and if using a cake mix, a cook can be assured of nearly foolproof results. An Italian rum cake may also use candied cherries and other fruit, so a cook can add these for a different touch. Numerous recipes for rum cake are available on the Internet.

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Amy Pollick
By Amy Pollick , Former Writer
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at WiseGeek. With experience in various roles and numerous articles under her belt, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers across various platforms on topics of all levels of complexity.

Discussion Comments

By Rotergirl — On Dec 25, 2014

I have a chocolate rum cake recipe that will rock your socks! It's dark chocolate, rich and unbelievably delicious. It's accompanied by a rum glaze that is also to die for.

Rum just goes well with cake -- I suppose because both are so very sweet. But I've heard of blackberry wine cake, too, so wine is also a possibility for using alcohol with desserts. There are a lot of options.

With the Southern delicacy lane cake, we usually use good bourbon. It's always a good idea to use decent quality liquor. It doesn't matter so much if you're cooking meat with wine, but you need to use good stuff with desserts because the taste really comes through.

By Pippinwhite — On Dec 24, 2014

My rum of choice is usually Bacardi Gold. I really like it. It's not as intense as the dark rum, but has more flavor than white rum, plus it's much smoother, which makes it ideal for cooking, to me.

I rarely drink, but I do like to use spirits in cooking, so I'm very glad Bacardi started bottling the golden variety.

I always use a really rich yellow cake recipe for rum cake. Might as well. If you're going to make a rum cake, you might as well use rich ingredients so the cake will taste as luxurious as possible.

Amy Pollick

Amy Pollick

Former Writer

Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at WiseGeek. With...
Learn more
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