Rum Cake



The big day is coming and I’m perfecting my epic menu planning spreadsheet. It’s something I start to toy with beginning in November, and I play with organization and color coding so our family has a clear turkey day game plan for shopping and cooking. It’s a beautiful masterpiece of categorized ingredients by grocery store sections and the corresponding recipes. It oddly makes me so happy and let’s me exercise some obsessive compulsive tendencies I didn’t know I had.

Needless to say, the start of November (and the spreadsheet crafting) makes me think about all the dishes I want to see on the Thanksgiving table. Since this is the first year I’ve had a food blog during this season, I clearly need to do some practice runs. One thing I look forward to is this boozy cake my Aunt Mary has traditionally made for our families when we spent Thanksgiving at her Connecticut home. It’s the kind of dish that makes me wake up the next day and think, “There better be some of that leftover downstairs.”

A word on Aunt Mary. She is a talented cook. She is an effortless hostess who makes any visit to her home memorable. She has every tool, gadget and serving vessel known to mankind (seriously, her cupboards are like a Mary Poppins bag). She never fails to dish out a one-liner, even in the midst of a kitchen snafu, and thus consistently brings on a fits gut-busting laughter among her nieces/sous chefs. Aunt Mary’s kitchen is warm and full of love (and ample supplies of wine), so recipes like this that were born in her kitchen always have, and always will, bring a smile to my face.

This bundt only needs a few ingredients, and won’t look as grand as a lattice pie crust or a meticulously frosted cake, but it will blow your mind. Yeah, I said it. It starts with a boxed cake mix and pudding mix (don’t make that face, I see you), followed by hot buttery rum syrup, and finished with whipped cream. It’s not for those who only like a whisper of booze in their dessert. This is an assault of dark rum. It’s delicious served slightly warm, after the rum nectar has properly soaked into the cake. However, a slice with coffee the next morning is delightful (and a nice wake up call).

A few tips I’ve learned from making this cake more than once:

  • Pour on the rum syrup when the cake is fresh out of the oven, to allow for maximum soaking. When you touch the bottom of the cake, it should sound squishy, like a soaking wet sneaker.
  • Pierce the cake a lot. You want that syrup to go everywhere, and you won’t end up seeing all the poke holes once you flip it over.
  • Make the whipped cream right before serving. Don’t let the boxed cake set a precedent for giving up and using Cool Whip. It won’t be the same. I also like to add a bit of fresh nutmeg to it, for some extra spice.
  • Don’t make mini-bundt cake versions of this. I tried it, thinking it would be cuter, but you lose some of that moisture.


Brought to you by (Aunt) Mary Montanus


1 box Duncan Hines butter cake mix

1 small package regular vanilla pudding (not instant)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola is fine too)

1/2 cup dark rum

4 room temperature eggs

Rum Syrup:

1/2 cup dark rum

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Butter and flour a bundt pan. If you have a nonstick pan, a good coating of cooking spray will do the trick.

Mix cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, water and rum until volume doubles (this may take about 5 minutes). Pour into greased bundt pan and bake 50-60 minutes.

About 5-10 minutes before cake is completely cooked: Heat rum, sugar, and water until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and cook until it’s melted.

Remove cake and prick with a toothpick or shape fork all over, pour spoonfuls of rum mixture over the cake until is all soaked in. Wait a half hour then remove the cake from pan.

Slice and serve with whipped cream.



7 thoughts on “Rum Cake

  1. Gary Montanus

    Nice tribute to your aunt! As you know, this specialty is hard to resist and worth waking up early before others get at it.

  2. Christina Webber

    The most intoxicating dessert I ever got to enjoy. Claire, thank you for sharing and Mary to you for creating. Chris

  3. Nelle

    Your cake is perfect looking and I enjoy your tidy mise en place. Cheers to drinking your cake! Or is it eating your drink. Idk.


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