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Better Than Tortuga Rum Cake

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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! You can skip the pudding mix and still get a moist rum cake with the perfect amount of kick!

Better Than Tortuga Rum Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

For a taste of the Caribbean, bake this Better Than Tortuga Rum Cake recipe! This from-scratch rum cake recipe is moist, flavorful, and packs a potent rum kick. This rum cake is great for gatherings or gifting.


Cake Batter

  • 2 cups cake flour (see notes for a substitution)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup dark spiced rum
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tbsp oil (see notes)

Rum Soaking Glaze

  • 1⁄2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark spiced rum


  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Oil and flour a bundt cake pan, or butter a 9x13" sheet pan.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cut butter 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 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 65 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, 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 it cold!


  • If you don't have cake flour on hand, an easy substitute is 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Sift together twice to combine well.
  • One option for greasing your bundt pan is lightly brushing it with a tablespoon of oil, then dusting it with flour. Usually, it works for me, but if you have a tried and true bundt cake liner, use it!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 530Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 468mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 0gSugar: 43gProtein: 5g

These nutrition values are estimates. Exact values will vary depending on the ingredients, brands, and quantities used.

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Monday 19th of December 2022

What is the 1T of oil for?

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Friday 23rd of December 2022

I use oil instead of butter for lining my bundt cake pan. I added some information to the notes to explain this.


Friday 26th of November 2021

I make this cake all the time. It's perfect. Everyone asks me for the recipe. It's a holiday staple.

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

<3 I'm so glad you love this cake. It's an honor to know this recipe is part of your holiday celebrations! <3


Wednesday 17th of June 2020

Hi, made this recipe but my cake came out like pudding (after I had refrigerated it overnight in the pan). Where it was cake like, it tasted exactly like tortuga cake, hence definitely would like to bake this again but with more success hopefully. I’m new to this and may not be experienced enough with certain recipe instructions. In steps 4 and 5, I mixed in the ingredients using a mixer. Should I have just used a spatula instead? Could that be the reason for my pudding texture? Thanks

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Sunday 12th of July 2020

Hm... I always use my mixer for this one. This is not one of the cake recipes I'm particularly finicky with, haha. But here's my guess from experience... I have a set of dry measuring cups that seems to measure a bit "extra" for everything. And I find that when I use it to measure wet ingredients for cakes (like sour cream), I can sometimes end up with a heavier crumb. To get around this, I always remove about a tablespoon of whatever wet ingredient from that particular set of cups and it seems to even things out. That particular set for me is a plastic Cuisinart set in teal. Which is weird because I have a purple one that doesn't do that. Technically, you shouldn't use dry measuring cups to measure wet ingredients, but I think most of us do from time to time.

Patricia Rossi

Saturday 15th of February 2020

I did the rum cake, and sas really awesome! Better then tortuga. I used a rum of my country, Peru (cartavio), and the result was perfect: delicious, moist, amd smelled like heaven

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Tuesday 25th of February 2020

Sounds lovely! Enjoy!


Tuesday 20th of December 2016

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.

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Wednesday 21st of December 2016

Personally, I would substitute a neutral flavored oil like avocado oil (actually, I use this a lot in my kitchen) since it has a neutral flavor. Olive oil can make baked goods a bit dense and will change the flavor of the final product.

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