If you want a simple but delicious desert to take to a holiday buffet or help ring in the New Year, then a Bacardi rum cake is a great choice. This cake is really something to celebrate, but for any non-drinkers you can burn off most of the alcohol in the glaze if you wish. The recipe originated in the 1970’s but I saw a revised version in one of The Pioneer Woman cookbooks, which inspired me to try it out last year. Although I remember it as a popular magazine advertisement from the Bacardi Rum Company years ago, I did not cook or even bake back then. My only experience with a booze-laden dessert was during a late-night visit to a high school friend’s house over Christmas break. She was of Italian descent and served us some kind of soggy boozy cake which was an Italian tradition. After an evening of bar-hopping that was probably the last thing we needed, but we had strong espresso with it, as we sat around their ornate dining room table at 1 am laughing and catching up and trying not to wake her sleeping parents. (I don’t remember parents staying up worrying back then when their kids went out, certainly mine never did, but those were more innocent times when bad things didn’t seem to happen as often as they do now. My parents never even locked their doors in the country and I often had to step over the sleeping dog when I got home). I’m not sure what kind of fancy liquor was in that cake but it was very strong, so the memory has stayed with me…..plus the fact that I occasionally drive past her house, but they have long since moved and I lost touch. This recipe is not as strong, or as soggy but has just the right amount of rum flavor. It keeps well too, although I stored mine in the fridge in a covered container. It was just as moist a week later when there were only one or two pieces left and the New Year’s resolutions had kicked in.
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 package yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup cold water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup light or dark rum
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light or dark rum
- Sprinkle the nuts over the bottom of the prepared pan.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine cake mix, eggs, water, vegetable oil, and rum; beat until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Spoon the batter over the nuts and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon.
- Bake: Bake 1 hour or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 or 15 minutes. Poke holes in the bottom of the cake and spoon the glaze over it. Be generous. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes to soak in. Remove the cake from the pan and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Drizzle the rest of the glaze over the top.
- In a small heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in water and sugar; bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly so mixture does not burn. Remove from heat. Stir in the rum.
- Use a long toothpick or skewer to poke multiple small holes in the bottom of the cake. Spoon the still warm glaze over the cake and allow to soak in. Remove the cake from the pan and repeat the process on the top part (which will have the nuts), until all the glaze is used up.
It can be impossible to find a cake mix with pudding anymore, so newer versions of this recipe call for using one 3 oz package of vanilla pudding mix and a regular yellow cake mix.
Although the original recipe does not call for drizzling the glaze over both the top and bottom of the cake, I did both, as I wanted it nice and flavorful. You do want it to soak in well so make lots of holes and let it sit for awhile before you remove it from the pan and repeat with the top.
I used a long two pronged fork to make the holes. I could not find my Bundt cake pan (did I still own a Bundt pan?) so I just used a plain round Angel Food cake tin. I also used butter instead of oil, a personal preference, and half brown sugar and half regular sugar for the glaze. (Someday I may learn to follow a recipe exactly!) The Pioneer Woman recipe called for 1/2 cup brown sugar mixed with 1/2 cup chopped nuts and sprinkled in the bottom of the pan, so I tried that this year and prefer the plain nuts version as it was too sweet and made the topping hard so that when I tried to poke holes in it with a nut pick, it started to crack, so I ended up just drizzling the remainder of the glaze over the top. Live and learn….a domestic goddess, I am not.
I added the rum while it was still boiling to burn off most of the alcohol. Of course you don’t have to use Bacardi brand rum…..any rum will do, but I do think a dark rum makes a nicer sauce. When I went out for a walk and came back in, the kitchen still smelled rummy. The batter tasted pretty rummy too, if you are the daring type who likes to taste raw batter. I stored the cake in a covered container in the fridge and it kept well. If it gets a bit dried out, microwaving it for about 15 seconds, makes it even better. In fact, served warm with coffee, it’s a nice way to ring in the New Year with family and friends.
Postscript: see last years blog Here We Come A’ Wassailing for more New Years entertaining ideas.