Almost Tortuga Rum Cake

For our annual Trafalgar Day Dinner, I always serve roast beef, potatoes, a Cabernet labeled “Claret” by Coppola and some sort of dessert.  I try to keep the theme and make a British dessert, but I realized I’m not very good at making British desserts and decided that this year I’d go with Rum Cake.   It fits the occasion, and I’d had my eye on “Almost Tortuga Rum Cake” from Recipe Goldmine for months. That is, ever since we got back from the Bahamas, where I kept seeing it everywhere – especially the Nassau airport, where they have a booth and free samples. The cakes come in all different flavors and have quite a following, but I didn’t feel like spending $30 for a tin of cake from the airport.I’d rather just buy the rum.

Speaking of rum, using the right rum is important. I believe the original cake uses Tortuga rum, but most people make this with Whaler’s Vanilla Rum (spelled “Vanille”) which is seems like a pretty useful baking rum and only costs about $11 a bottle.

Rum Cake

But back to the cake.  If the original Tortuga Rum Cakes are known for being moist, then this one probably comes close. It’s definitely soaked – not so wet as a tres leches cake, but almost. There’s a lot of flavor from the butter, and while you can definitely taste the rum, I think the butter and vanilla flavor tone down the alcohol.  Would it be crazy to make this cake for Thanksgiving?  No, I think it would be a great idea.  And it tastes better on Day 2, which is another bonus. Todd forgot to take the rest to work, so I’ll be able to tell you how it tastes on Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6 too.

Almost Tortuga Rum Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The Almost Tortuga Rum Cake – adapted from Recipe Goldmine and
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups cake flour (8 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I chopped coarsely, didn’t toast)
  • 1 (3 1/2 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whaler vanilla rum (Hawaiian-style rum)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soaking Glaze
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup whaler vanilla rum (Hawaiian-style rum)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a standard size Bundt pan or spray generously with a good flour-added baking spray.
  2. Mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of a stand mixer. Add chunks of softened butter and 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Continue mixing on medium low speed until mixture looks like fine gravel. Add the pudding mix, milk, eggs, remaining oil, rum and vanilla. Continue beating with the paddle, raising speed to medium. Beat until well mixed, scraping bowl often. Batter should be very smooth.
  3. Sprinkle the chopped nuts across the bottom of the pan. Pour batter over nuts and bake for 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and cake springs back.
  4. Prepare Rum Soaking Glaze. Combine butter, water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved and syrup is well combined and a little thicker.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
  6. While cake is still cooling upside down in the pan, pour some of the hot syrup on top of the cake (I poked holes all over it with a toothpick, allowing it time to soak in (this may take a few minutes as there will be a lot of syrup) continue to add syrup until all of the syrup is added. Allow cake to cool completely in pan before turning out onto serving platter.


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  1. Kristin says

    Hi Anna,

    This has been on my list of recipes I have been wanting to try. So glad you beat me to it and gave some tips and advice. Looking forward to hearing how it ages…


    P.S. On and FYI… the 1 1/3 recipe of the Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies came out perfectly! I made them in a 9 x 13 glass Pyrex dish. Thanks again!

  2. says

    Kristin, it’s definitely moist — even more than I thought it would be. Also, I am glad to hear the scaled recipe worked!

  3. Brenda says

    I’ve been to the Bahamas a couple of times and we always bring back the tiny tins of cake as gifts (I think they come 6 to a pack or something). I’m thrilled you posted a recipe for this cake. My husband will be REALLY excited. Thanks!

  4. Gloria says

    This comment is related–we’re going to the Bahamas in December-never been there….do you have any restaurants or bakeries you can recommend?

  5. says

    Louise, I had to Google Bacardi Rum cake. I didn’t realize that Bacardi sold their cake in tins as well. I’ve heard of their rum and knew they had a cake recipe, but didn’t realize it was the super moist one. I always associated the Bacardi cake with a cake mix based recipe.

    Brenda, the 3 packs and 6 packs are pretty cute. Next time I go to the Bahamas I’ll have to splurge and pick one up.

    Gloria, we always go to Paradise Island. I’m afraid I haven’t ventured past Nassau and don’t have any great recommendations for bakeries or even desserts. Next time I’ll take better notes.

  6. la-la-lisa says

    I adore the Bacardi cake, well, except for the cake mixey taste. It’s very similar though. I wonder if you can sub other types of rum though.

  7. Louise says

    In my ignorance, I had to Google “Trafalgar Day” to see what you were celebrating with this dessert. 🙂 Today is National Boston Cream Pie Day. 😉

  8. Jackie says

    Hi Anna

    Is this cake for adults only. Does it have a strong boozy taste. If I let it sit for a few days will it mellow out.

  9. Thomas M. Horne says

    I have made this cake at least a dozen times now and wanted to say thank you! I double the syrup and use dark bacardi rum instead of the vanilla rum and it is amazing and makes office parties much more enjoyable! Everyone praises this cake and I always let them know the source.

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