Buttery, moist, and full of tropical rum flavor, nothing quite hits the spot like a slice of perfect alcohol-soaked pound cake. Whether you stumbled across this gem in the store and crossed paths with it in your travels, you will become an instant fan of Tortuga Rum Cake. Unfortunately for those who don’t have tickets to the Caribbean and can’t find this cake in their local department store, the chances of encountering Tortuga Rum Cake are few and far between. That is until now. This from-scratch recipe delivers. The cake is moist and the rum is prominent but not overpowering, balanced by the buttery and creamy cake batter ingredients and a hefty dose of vanilla extract. A buttery rum soak will drive the flavors home and keep the cake going strong for days to come — if it lasts that long.
As stereotyped as it is, it’s indeed true — rum has been a part of many Caribbean desserts for many years. Being the birthplace of rum, the fusions of local rum and desserts brought over from colonial British rule were the first predecessors to the desserts we know today. The British liquor-soaked fruit pudding evolved over time adapting to the ingredients available. The once painfully brick-worthy, dense fruit nut-laden cakes evolved into more of a straight-up sponge cake.
Fast forward to the late 20th century, and this butter rum cake became a souvenir staple for tourists flooding the Caribbean islands. Many companies produce varying types of Tortuga Rum Cake, but it’s a regional treat, not something you’ll find in the aisles of your nearby supermarket. Here this Tortuga Rum Cake is a wonderful vanilla-laced cake moistened with sour cream and buttermilk and a hefty pour of dark rum. Straight out of the oven, this cake stays nestled into the pan and has a buttered rum sugar syrup poured over the cake, infusing into every surface area.
This cake starts simply. After combining the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl, you pull out a mixer and beat the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Once the bowl is scraped, you go ahead and add the eggs. On a low speed, you’ll add the dry and wet ingredients until just incorporated (you don’t want to overbeat the batter!). If you want to make a less rummy version of this cake, you can substitute the dark rum in the cake batter for water flavored with a teaspoon of rum extract.
Poured into a well-sprayed bundt pan, the Tortuga Rum Cake bakes for 55 to 65 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few moist, but not wet crumbs.
While the cake is baking you go and prepare the rum soak which is super simple. In a saucepan, you combine butter, water, sugar, and rum until it gets to a boil. If you want a less boozy version, make sure to cook the sauce for a few extra minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
Use a skewer to poke holes into the bottom side of the cake and pour the warm rum glaze over the cake.
Let the cake rest and get to room temperature before inverting it onto a plate. Again this is the recipe to use baking spray!
Served up this cake is dense and moist in the best possible way. The soft cake crumb melts on your tongue creating a velvety texture that’s way beyond your average pound cake.
This cake tastes good at room temperature, warmed up, and cold so you’ll have your pick of serving temperatures.
Since it has a sugar soak this cake is a great dessert for special occasions and for gifts, as it doesn’t stale like normal cakes. You may want to gift this Tortuga Rum Cake to yourself, it’s just that good.
Tortuga Rum Cake
20m prep time
55m cook time
For the Cake:
- 2 cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 2/3 cup spiced dark rum
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and brought to room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Rum Soak:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup spiced dark rum
To make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F, spray a bundt pan with baking spray, set onto a baking sheet, set aside.
- In the bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In another bowl, combine sour cream, buttermilk, and dark rum, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar. Scrape the bowl and paddle. Beat mixture for 1 to 2 minutes to get a fluffy texture.
- Lower speed and gradually add in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Scrape the bowl and paddle. Beat in the vanilla.
- On a low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the wet ingredients in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven, keep cake in the pan, and prepare the glaze.
To make the Rum Soak:
- In a saucepan combine butter, water, sugar, and rum.
- Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes of medium heat until the glaze slightly thickens.
- Use a skewer to poke holes into the bottom of the cake and pour the glaze over the cake.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before inverting it onto a plate.
- You can serve immediately or it tastes great when it’s cold from the fridge. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Goodie God Mother.