Rum Cake

12 Dec


It’s been a long week. You know what? It’s been a long couple of weeks. A long past few months, years, and on and on and on. But, if there is anything the Internet does not need any more of, it’s complaining. So, I am not going to talk about the past few years of difficulty, wasted energy, and general disappointment. Instead, I am going to talk about someone who inhabits the very antithesis of all the crass inequity doled out by the universe. And then I am going to tell you all about the cake I made for her.



My friend Corinna is the genius behind Piddix, a one-woman operation that sells collage sheets of images and designs that have been meticulously curated by Corinna herself. If given a million years to ponder, never would I have come up with such a brilliant, creative, and fascinating business idea. But this is what Corinna does. She’s got sort of a magic touch when it comes to stuff like that—ideas, inspiration—and I tend to think that quite a bit of Corinna’s magic is the result of her incredible niceness. No, really. I am fairly certain that Corinna is the nicest person I have ever met. She would, of course, disagree with my assessment, but that is what nice people do. Nice people are also modest about their niceness, because, to them, being nice is just a way of life, not a noteworthy trait to be lauded and celebrated.




But, come on, we should be allowed to celebrate just a little bit, right? It’s not everyday you meet someone like Corinna, and I have had the pleasure of being in Corinna’s company for 18 years now, which seems like a fantastic stroke of luck to possess. So, if there was anyone I knew who was deserving of a cake—a cake made possible by the generosity of others—it was Corinna. And, lucky for me, when it comes to cake, Corinna is a tough cookie to please, meaning that making a special cake for a special person would, in this case, require me to delve deep into the recesses of my mental baking archives and come up with one showstopper of a cake.




When the flour dust cloud in my kitchen had cleared, this is what emerged. A moist sour cream cake, fortified with rum, rich with butter, then glazed with a heavy hand of even yet more rum and butter. As described by Corinna, it’s reminiscent of an old-fashioned doughnut, but still in possession of cake-like qualities. Also, it’s got booze in it. Which means that if you are going to celebrate a person or an event, you’ll get a good jump on things by introducing this cake into the celebration.


Corinna and her cake

Rum Cake

2 ¼ cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup dark rum

1 cup sour cream

Rum Glaze:

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup dark rum

pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place an oven rack in the middle position.  Thoroughly butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until light and creamy.  Add the sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and rum and beat until combined.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add one third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.  Add half of the sour cream, and beat until just combined.  Add half of the remaining flour mixture, beat until just combined, then add the remaining sour cream, mixing only until just combined.  Add the last of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake emerges with just a few moist crumbs attached, and the top of the cake is golden brown.  Cool the cake in its pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.

To make rum glaze, melt the butter in a small or medium saucepan. Stir in the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, then, over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, then remove from heat and stir in the rum and pinch of sea salt.

While cake is still slightly warm, brush all over with rum glaze. Allow the first coat of glaze to cool a bit, then glaze again. Repeat until all of the glaze has been brushed onto the cake. Layering the glaze applications will result in a fantastic coating with a really great, toothsome bite.

16 Responses to “Rum Cake”

  1. Celia December 12, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I am thinking what a lucky pair you and Corrina are, to be long time friends. I would put you two in the category of lifetime friends! Your Rum Cake looks absolutely scrumptious. One more baking feat for you! The cake flour must make a difference in texture, and I will attempt baking this spectacular Rum Cake for my neighborhood holiday get together.
    (along with a couple more of your recipes) You look like such a happy baker in the photo.
    Bless you for all you are doing to share your talents.

    • savorysaltysweet December 12, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      I hope you give the cake a try! It’s a really good holiday cake–slighty boozy to make it celebratory, but also simple enough to fit right in in a spread of other desserts. Oh, and that’s a photo of Corinna, by the way! I had to capture her super happy face when she received her cake.

      • Celia December 13, 2012 at 11:24 am #

        Well, she really did look happy! A gift of a home baked cake is a priceless memory.

      • Celia December 17, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

        How many days in advance can I make this? We are having a get together with neighbors on Saturday. (5 days away) Thanks in advance for any advice.

      • savorysaltysweet December 18, 2012 at 10:34 am #

        I’d say the cake could be made a day or two ahead and, if left covered at room temperature, should suffer no ill effects. If you really want to make it far in advance, however, you could make it a week or five days ahead, allow it to cool completely and not glaze it at all, then wrap it super well in plastic wrap and freeze it. Then, 24 hours before you plan to eat it, leave it at room temperature to thaw. When it has thawed, you can start layering on the glaze. Hope this helps!

  2. Celia December 12, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    ps. I saw the tiny bundt cake batter in the photo. Smart cookie!

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide December 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I love this and can never find just the right recipe. Have to try this one. I like the use of sour cream.

  4. gwynnem December 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    That cake is gorgeousness, gal! Any chance you’ll be trying out an eggnog cake recipe? I’m trying to find the world’s great eggnog cake recipe so I can make it for my husband’s birthday next weekend.

    And…if you have any clever tips on how to make a light and fluffy cake, I’m all ears. Whenever I make homemade cakes, they always come out so heavy.

    • savorysaltysweet December 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      I’ve never tried to make an eggnog cake, but the idea sounds intriguing. Truth be told, I’ve never even heard of an eggnog cake. Is it a yellow cake with rum and nutmeg? That’s what comes to mind when I think “eggnog cake.” It sounds kind of good, actually.

      As for cake tips, I have many. There are different things that can make a cake turn out heavy, including not creaming the butter enough (if it’s a butter cake), not starting with room temperature ingredients (using cold eggs, butter, and milk can drastically alter the texture of your batter), over mixing the batter, or not sifting or whisking the dry ingredients. I don’t use cake flour in all of the cakes I bake, but if you are looking for a fine crumb and a light texture, cake flour will certainly help your cause.

      Mixing is always key, though. When you cream butter for a cake, you’ve got to really beat it until it is light and super smooth. Same goes for when you cream the butter and sugar together–you’ve got to really beat things until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Sometimes you end up beating the mixture for 4 or 5 minutes, but it is totally worth it. Using a light touch when adding in your dry ingredients is also important. Overworking the batter will activate the gluten in the flour, making the cake tougher and heavier than necessary. I always mix until things are just incorporated–just barely past the streaky with flour stage (unless, as in the case of my favorite pound cake/butter cake, you are told to beat, beat, beat until the batter is smooth and thick). Again, because cake flour has a low gluten content, it helps to use cake flour instead of all-purpose, but, if you use a gentle touch, cake flour is not totally necessary in all cakes.

      I hope this helps. Let me know how your next cake turns out!

      • gwynnem December 13, 2012 at 7:18 am #

        Oh my gosh. This is all such great advice. I think my prior cake experiments have suffered from all of these baking prep no-nos. Part of the problem has been living in a world where I had to mix everything by hand. This will be the first cake I make with my Kitchen Aid, so I’m crossing my fingers things turn out much better, particularly since it’s for a birthday cake. Thanks for taking the time to advise me!

  5. Celia December 13, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Successful baking is such a precise science. Thanks for all of the tips.

  6. Marissa (@pinchandswirl) December 14, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    This is such a sweet post. Thanks for introducing me to piddix – wow!

    I love rum in sweets. My husband’s family introduced me to chocolate rum pie and it’s perhaps my favorite holiday treat.

    This cake looks like a must try. I wonder how it would be as cupcakes? + Thanks for all of the great tips in your reply to gwynnem.

  7. Celia December 23, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I made the cake, Success! I had a bit of a challenge getting the cake released from the bundt pan, but it finally emerged! The cake is so very delicious, and was a hit at our neighborhood party. I had a slice with tea this morning…The texture is so lovely, and with the rum glaze surrounding it, it couldn’t be tastier.

    • Celia Sadlou January 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      The cake is long gone, but we are still talking about it!

      • savorysaltysweet January 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

        That’s a great recommendation, right there!


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