I know the holidays are here when Rum Cakes start appearing in my kitchen. Not by magic, by me. This was my mother’s favorite holiday treat and she demanded one every year. She began baking Rum Cakes when I was a teenager and then passed the reins over to me. Her biggest problem, being a woman of tasteful Southern breeding was being seen in the liquor store buying rum. Imagine a grey haired upstanding Republican woman who dropped her change at the cash register while muttering “I think that is the pastor of the Presbyterian church”. She would then nearly wreck the manual transmission car trying to skip gears in the parking lot to avoid being seen and was very happy when I was old enough to go buy the evil booze. Why it was OK for me to be seen buying rum remains a mystery lost to Southern ages. So, really this is a family tradition. This cake is being gifted to my brother and his family.
The recipe is based on a Bacardi rum recipe from the 70s. I started having trouble making Rum Cakes when all the boxes of cake mix were downsized from 18 ounces to 15.25. So, I have ended up buying two boxes of cake mix to get the amount right. Otherwise the cake ends up soggy.
The rum I prefer is Bacardi Gold. Having made this cake for almost 40 years I have tried all types with the exception of 151 which I believe might blow up the kitchen, so Bacardi Gold is the rum of choice for this cake:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
1 cup chopped pecans (this is a starting point, I fill the bottom of the pan)
1/ 15.25 oz Yellow or Butter Golden Cake Mix, plus 1/3 cup Cake Mix (buy two boxes) make more Rum Cakes with the leftovers
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup rum (Bacardi Gold)
Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan, then break pecans into the bottom of the pan until it is covered. You can chop the nuts or use walnuts. I hate walnuts and just cover the bottom of the pan with big pieces of broken pecans.
Put all the other ingredients in the stand mixer and mix til there aren’t any lumps. Pour batter over the nuts and bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out of the cake clean. Leave the cake in the pan for five minutes and then turn the cake out. Let cool til barely warm and make the glaze.
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup cold water
Mix ingredients in small saucepan, then stir until everything is combined. Stirring over low medium heat the mixture will come to a boil, when the entire surface is bubbling set the timer for 5 minutes. Let it boil gently for five minutes, then take the mixture off the heat (this is important because it will catch on fire if you don’t) Add:
1/2 cup Rum
Stir until the alcoholic fumes wane. Meanwhile poke holes in top of cake with a skewer or pointy old knife. Spoon glaze over cake until the holes fill with glaze, then drizzle down the sides.