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Better than Tortuga Rum Cake! You can skip the pudding mix and still get a moist rum cake with the perfect amount of kick!

For a period of time in my childhood, my father would travel to the Caribbean islands periodically for work. He didn’t travel often, but he usually brought something back for us girls when he did. One of his trips took him to the island where they manufacture the Tortuga Rum Cakes sold in stores and online, so he brought one back to try even though my parents don’t drink. I think I was maybe 8 years old at the time, and I was smitten with the bold flavors of the cake! I had never had anything like it, but I love well spiced food, so this bold dessert was such an exciting novelty.

I didn’t have rum cake again for years, and then when I finally tried it somewhere, it wasn’t exactly rummy. I’m pretty sure some of the flavor came from an imitation rum extract and it was a bit dry. It didn’t remind me at all of the flavors or texture in the packaged rum cake that I loved so much at first bite. I passively set about finding a recipe, experimenting here and there, and then I found this recipe, and it was close to what I remembered, but I felt an aftertaste from the pudding mix that I didn’t really enjoy. So I set about changing the recipe to suit my tastes and eliminate the boxed pudding, and I did it! I have a delicious – from scratch – rum cake, and I’m not just saying this because it’s my blog and I hope you make my recipes. 😉

Better than Tortuga Rum Cake! You can skip the pudding mix and still get a moist rum cake with the perfect amount of kick!


I figured out this rum cake recipe back when I was baking to sell from my home bakery, and one of my friends tried this cake and fell head over heels in love for it. We moved our separate ways, but in the way life sometimes works out, she and her family are our neighbors again! When she moved here, she was pregnant with her third little, and so I promised her a rum cake in addition to a delivered meal after she brought her newest home. The cake does freeze well, so I told her to go ahead and wrap up some pieces for her freezer to enjoy later. She smiled and said “oh good!”.  Not one bite of cake ever made it to the freezer… so I’d say this is a keeper.

A few quick notes about the recipe…

Be sure to use a dark spiced rum. The flavor of the rum is, obviously, the primary flavor of the cake. I used Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum.

You don’t have to make this as a bundt cake! This cake also works well as a sheet cake in a 9×13″ pan, which is nice because you don’t have to invert it. Just start checking it around the 40 minute mark. If you do use a bundt pan, butter and flour your pan well. I can’t stress this one enough, you really don’t want the cake to stick. Alternatively, I’ve heard good things about using a silicone bundt pan, but I haven’t tried it yet.

You may add nuts if you’d like, I have sometimes, but I don’t usually. Chopped pecans and walnuts have been our favorites. You can also skip a frosting glaze because this is a really rich cake.

Better than Tortuga Rum Cake! You can skip the pudding mix and still get a moist rum cake with the perfect amount of kick!


Better Than Tortuga Rum Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 servings
Cake Batter
  • 2 cups cake flour (see notes for a substitution)
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup dark spiced rum
  • ½ cup oil
Rum Soaking Glaze
  • 1⁄2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cups dark spiced rum
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan, or butter a 9x13" sheet pan.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cut butter and vegetable oil into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or into a large mixing bowl to use a hand mixer.
  3. On low speed, combine the ingredients until they look like a gravel.
  4. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Add the sour cream, buttermilk, oil, and rum, and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and prepare the rum soaking glaze.
  7. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, water, and sugar together. Stir and cook until the sugar is dissolved and then cook an additional 4-5 minutes until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
  8. Use a skewer to poke holes all over the top of the still warm cake and slowly pour the rum glaze over the cake.
  9. Allow the cake to cool completely before inverting. You may slice it when it is completely cooled. We love to refrigerate it and enjoy cold!
If you don't have cake flour on hand, an easy substitute is 1¾ cups all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornstarch. Sift together twice to combine well.

The Evolution of Mom


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This Post Has 21 Comments
  1. I am going to make this for Christmas Eve. Can I use olive oil? I don’t use processed oils and saw another recipe with it. May add nuts too.

  2. Thanks for this recipe! My teenagers made this for Fathers Day today. Daughter made the cake, son made the rum sauce. It was better than Tortuga! Out of all the recipes on web, this was only one without jello pudding, which is just wrong. The sauce with the cake was incredible and bit strong since the alcohol was not cooked out. I got a small buzz and I think my kids might of also. Might cook the alcohol out next time, or not????.

    1. Years ago I copied one onto a piece of paper from a website and then have been modifying since then. I’m not 100% sure, but I think this may have been the site. I remember it either used a box mix base or the pudding (or both), but it was some time ago. Thank you for sharing the link! The two recipes are similar because both are trying to copy the Tortuga Rum Cake recipe, but for me the use of pudding mix makes a big difference. I find the mix leaves a bit of an aftertaste to the cake that isn’t quite to my liking, so my cake is from scratch and uses more rum. The texture is slightly different as is the flavor, and it’s wonderful we have so many different options to choose from when finding our favorite recipes. 🙂

  3. This looks so delicious! I love a moist flavorful cake!! People are always so amazed when they try a completely home made cake – as if it isn’t really possible to make one! lol. I’m glad you are showing folks that it IS possible and MORE delicious!

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