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An easy Bacardi rum cake from scratch! It is a tender yellow cake with a generous amount of rum in both the cake batter and in the rich, buttery glaze! The crunchy pecans and coconut are baked right into the cake for the perfect bite!
This rum cake recipe is phenomenal. It has a soft, tender crumb paired with a denser texture, almost like sour cream pound cake. The buttery, boozy glaze literally changed my life. I have to restrain myself from soaking every single cake with a variation of this rich glaze.
There is no need to buy both pudding mix and cake mix in order to make the original Bacardi rum cake recipe when you can easily whip up a from scratch version with ingredients you (probably) already have! This recipe is just as easy and tastes better than the original version.
Table of Contents
Why you will love this rum cake recipe
- Perfect texture. It has a soft, tender crumb with a rich, buttery flavor! With this recipe you’ll get that perfect texture without all the additives of cake and pudding mix.
- This cake stores and ships really well! Because of the glaze, this rum cake gets better over time. You could also wrap it really well and freeze for a later date or a trifle like I did in this tropical trifle!
- Beautiful presentation. The unadorned cake makes a stunning dessert. The top has a bit of crunch and texture from the coconut and pecans. The glaze makes it extra moist and gives it a glittering sheen. Serve with just a dollop of homemade whipped cream or a spoonful of vanilla anglaise.
How I replicated the texture and flavor without box mix
The flavor and texture of box mix baked goods can be tricky to replicate because of all the commercial additives. There are chemicals that mimic the taste of vanilla, preservatives and other stabilizers that create a unique product.
- Cake Flour. Cake flour has a lower gluten content and a finer texture, which are essential for replicating the airy texture of box cake mix.
- One tablespoon of baking powder. It’s a lot of baking powder but that is part of the reason why cake mix cakes rise higher and faster than homemade.
- Add extra egg yolks. There are 3 additional egg yolks in this recipe. They add additional fat without additional moisture. The fat helps create a dense texture and also inhibits gluten formation, thus making the cake more tender. It is part of what replicates the texture of the pudding mix typically in rum cake.
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch is the main ingredient in pudding mix that impacts the texture of the cake. Adding it makes the cake more dense and gives it an almost pound cake like texture. It is more dense yet has a delicate crumb. A magical combination!
- Cake Flour: I use cake flour only when absolutely necessary. Bacardi rum cake is one such instance. The lower gluten content and finer texture are essential for getting the airy texture of box cake mix.
- Cornstarch: Similar to how adding cornstarch to cookies makes them chewy and thick, adding cornstarch to cake creates a more dense, almost chewy texture. It is why pudding mix is included in the original Bacardi rum cake recipe.
- Baking Powder: Double acting baking powder will react instantly when it is mixed with an acid, which is sour cream here, and then again when it is heated. It allows for a much more even rise than baking soda alone. It creates an evenly risen and baked crumb.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It heightens the flavor here and will keep your cake from tasting dull or flat.
- Unsalted Butter: I use unsalted butter to control the flavor of the cake. Creaming the butter and sugar together traps air molecules in the butter, which contributes to the rise of the cake and keeps it from being too dense. Butter also adds flavor and moisture and coats the gluten molecules to keep them from forming a strong network. A strong gluten network will make your cake tough and chewy in a bad way.
- Sugar: I use granulated sugar in this cake. It is here for the more obvious flavor reasons, but also to aid in leavening, moisture, texture and stability.
- Whole Eggs: Whole eggs add fat, moisture and leavening when beaten into the creamed butter and sugar. They also emulsify the batter, which helps create a tender texture.
- Egg Yolks: Egg yolks in cake add additional fat without additional moisture. This fat helps create a dense texture and also inhibits gluten formation, thus making the cake more tender.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream is essential for the denser texture and rich flavor of rum cake. It has just enough moisture to hydrate the flour and fat to inhibit the gluten formation. It is acidic and its job is also to react with the baking powder for the perfect rise.
- Dark Rum: There is dark rum in both the cake and the glaze. It will bake mostly out of the cake but it is very much a dominating flavor of the glaze. Choose a rum that you enjoy and you can’t go wrong! Try Malibu rum for a change!
- Pecans: I love to use Southern pecans in baking. Nothing beats fresh, plump pecans. But any pecan halves will do. If you keep them for longer than a month or your kitchen is consistently warm, store them in the freezer to preserve freshness.
- Shredded Coconut: I used shredded sweetened coconut because why not?! In for a penny, in for a pound. You can use any shredded coconut you have.
How to Make Bacardi Rum Cake
Use these instructions to make the perfect Bacardi rum cake from scratch every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Prepare the Bundt pan:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F convection.
Step 2: Sprayed a 10-12 cup Bundt or tube pan with cooking spray and then flour it. Add a bit of flour around the bottom then tap the flour around until every inch is covered. Tap out the extra flour onto a piece of parchment on the counter. You should be left with a perfectly floured pan. You can also use that nifty spray that has both oil and flour.
Step 3: Sprinkle the pecans and coconut around the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Mix rum cake batter:
Step 4: Sift together cake flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Step 5: In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together rum and sour cream. Set aside.
Step 6: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl after every two eggs or so.
Step 7: Switch the mixer to low and then alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream.
I don’t wait until all the flour has incorporated before adding the next round of flour and wet ingredients. I just keep adding with two hands. Pro-style. I do stop the mixer to add the last of the sour cream because I like to scrape it all out with a rubber spatula.
Step 8: Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
Bake rum cake:
Step 9: Bake in preheated oven until a cake tester or toothpick comes out with a few clinging crumbs. This will take about 60-85 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your bundt pan. Mine baked for 70 minutes.
If you over-bake it will be dry. Even that much butter, sugar and sour cream can’t over compensate for over baking. Just sayin’.
Step 10: Let the cake cool 20 minutes and then loosen the edges with a paring knife. Turn it out onto a rack. Allow to cool completely. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester or skewer.
Make the glaze & finish cake:
Step 11: Melt the butter in a sauce pot. Stir in the water and sugar and boil for 5 minutes.
Try to stir it minimally during this step to avoid the sugar crystalizing.
Step 12: Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
Step 13: Place the cake on a wire rack sent over a baking sheet or rimmed plate. If you didn’t prick the cake in step 10, do that now. Then slowly pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to sink in.
I did two rounds of soaking with the glaze. I poured the excess glaze back into the pot and then poured it over the cake again.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
Even with all the extra fat from the egg yolks and sour cream; the alcohol; and the winning combination of cake flour and cornstarch; you can still overmix this cake. Over mixing after or during the addition of the sour cream mixture will create tunneling and a tough texture.
- Mix up the toppings: Substitute your favorite nuts or dried fruit for the pecans and coconut. I would suggest layering dried fruit underneath nuts or coconut to keep them from sticking to the pan.
- Extracts: Add up to a tablespoon of your favorite extract. Go lighter on more powerful flavors like coffee, almond, lemon and coconut.
- Spices: Add a bit of cinnamon, allspice or even up to 2 teaspoons of this pumpkin spice recipe to change up the flavor. A little apple pie spice would also be welcome!
- Sour Cream: You can use light sour cream in place of the full fat without sacrificing much flavor or texture.
- Eggs: Egg substitutes will not work in this recipe. It will still make a cake but it will not replicate the flavor and texture of the original Bacardi rum cake. The fat of the additional egg yolks it critical to the success of this cake.
- Rum: You can substitute any other alcohol that you enjoy in this cake recipe without impact. Brandy or tequila would be great. You can also substitute water or milk for the rum; however, be aware that adding alcohol to a cake is for moisture and flavor. Alcohol does not hydrate the gluten in flour the same way that water does, so cakes made with alcohol will be extra tender and moist.
- All-purpose Flour: I am not a fan of using cake flour willy-nilly, so know that it is integral to the success of this recipe. It will make a lighter, more tender cake. You can substitute pastry flour or all-purpose flour and still make a very nice cake. Put that bread flour down. Close the cupboard. Thank you.
Frequently Asked Questions
The flavor of the rum is present in both the cake batter and in the glaze, so you should choose a rum that you enjoy. I prefer a dark rum. You could also use a spiced rum for an additional flavor element. I would not suggest using a flavored rum because it will be overpowering.
The alcohol does bake out of cake when it bakes. It will never completely eliminate the alcohol from the cake. There will still be trace amounts of alcohol left. Then there is the copious amount of rum in the glaze. The rum will not cool out of the glaze without being flambeed.
Rum cake is delightful the day after it is made. The glaze has time to soak into the cake and the flavors meld. To make more than three days in advance, glaze, cool, wrap and freeze for the best flavor.
The cake itself has everything you need for a fabulous dessert! There is texture from the pecans and coconut baked on top, there is moisture and richness from the butter rum glaze, and there is a soft, tender cake underneath it all! Just a dollop of homemade whipped cream or even an easy lemon whipped cream is all it needs to be complete. Perhaps a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or crème anglaise to cut the richness and round out the flavors.
Rum cake can be served room temperature, warm or hot. To reheat, cover slices with a damp paper towel and microwave on 50% power until desired temperature is reached.
Cool rum cake completely prior to wrapping. Wrap unsliced or sliced cake well in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. An excessively warm or humid room will cause it to mold prematurely. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to two months. Thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Bacardi Rum Cake
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F convection.
Prep your Pan:
- Spray a 10-12 cup Bundt or tube pan with cooking spray and then flour it. Add a bit of flour around the bottom then tap the flour around until every inch is covered. Tap out the extra flour onto a piece of parchment on the counter. You should be left with a perfectly floured pan. You can also use that nifty spray that has both oil and flour.
- Sprinkle the pecans and coconut around the bottom of the pan.
To make the cake:
- Sift together cake flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together rum and sour cream. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl after every two eggs or so.
- Switch the mixer to low and then alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream. I don’t wait until all the flour has incorporated until I add the next batch. I just keep adding with two hands. Pro-style. I do stop the mixer to add the last of the sour cream because I like to scrape it all out with a rubber spatula.
- Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake in preheated oven until a cake tester comes out with a few clinging crumbs. This will take about 60-85 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your bundt pan. Mine baked for 70 minutes. If you overbake it will be dry. Even that much butter, sugar and sour cream can’t over compensate for overbaking. Just sayin’.
- Let it COOL 20 minutes and then loosen the edges with a paring knife and then turn it out onto a rack. Allow to cool completely. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester or skewer.
To make the glaze:
- Melt the butter in a pot. Stir in the water and sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
- With the cake on a wire rack sent over a baking sheet or rimmed plate, slowly pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to sink in. I did two rounds of soaking with the glaze. I poured the excess glaze back into the pot and then poured it over the cake again.
Before You Go
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed cake recipes!