Mami’s Rum Cake (Bizcocho de Ron)

March 14, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Makes 1 Bundt cake
Author Notes

This recipe comes from my cookbook, Coconuts and Collards. When my friends found out I was writing it, several asked if Mami’s rum cake would be in it. And so it is. Her original version uses a boxed cake mix. It’s perfectly balanced and is my favorite cake to this day.

With the help of chef, friend, and mentor Kathy Gunst, I adapted this recipe so it could be from-scratch; that version lives in my cookbook. The recipe below is Mami's. —Von Diaz

Test Kitchen Notes

To read about the story behind this recipe, see the personal essay. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • Canola oil or cooking spray, for greasing
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 box butter-flavor cake mix
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • Unsalted butter
  • Eggs
  • 1/4 cup white rum
  • Rum Syrup
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a Bundt pan with cooking spray and sprinkle in the walnuts.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle atachment or a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, combine the cake mix and pudding mix, then add the butter and eggs as directed by the instructions on the cake mix box. Add the rum. Beat at medium speed for 4 minutes.
  3. Bake for 33 to 35 minutes, until the cake is pale golden in color, slightly risen, and a toothpick or cake skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of the cake.
  4. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the rum glaze: Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sugar is fully dissolved and the glaze thickens just slightly.
  6. While the cake is still warm, poke holes throughout the cake using the same toothpick or skewer you used to test the cake for doneness. Pour the hot glaze on top; don’t worry if the cake doesn’t take in the glaze immediately. It takes at least 10 minutes for the glaze to be absorbed.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and allow to soak for at least 3 hours or overnight. Invert onto a plate, then slice and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Charles Missler-Grocholski
    Charles Missler-Grocholski
  • SophieL
  • FrugalCat
  • Tama Minal
    Tama Minal
  • Von Diaz
    Von Diaz

27 Reviews

Charles M. August 16, 2020
I made mini bunt cakes with the recipe and used Captain morgans for the rum syrup I added a little less alcahol and they turned out great everyone loved them that tried them so far, I just wish I bought enough stuff to make a 3 rod batch, 1 box made 24 minie cakes and still did not have enough to give out since I needed some left foe myselfvand my husband aldo 1st batch was trial and error as I over cooked them but they still tasted great and rum syrup helped soften them up :)
Von D. August 17, 2020
Delicious! Glad you enjoyed.
SophieL June 13, 2019
The box instructions (Duncan Hines) said to add 3/4 cup water (with butter and eggs) and the recipe said to add 1/4 cup rum, but that seemed like a lot of liquid so I just added 1/2 cup rum. My pudding mix was banana flavor, which I thought would complement the rum and nuts (used pecans). Cake baked up nice and tall, but sank in the center when it cooled. I didn't do the rum glaze, just a powdered sugar sprinkling on top. Cake was tender and delicious.
Mike P. December 26, 2018
Baking this now I got the follow the directions on the cake box but do I follow the directions on the pudding it calls for two cups milk ???
Von D. December 28, 2018
Hi Mike! Nope, you just need to use the pudding mix as is. Enjoy!
MrsMehitabel November 14, 2018
I enjoyed your essay a lot- it really wooed me to make the recipe. The cake was easy and fun to assemble, and the house smelled wonderful as it baked. My kids were very excited to have a piece after dinner.

In the end, though, this cake was not my favorite. The cake mix flavor was not disguised enough for my taste by the rum. The syrup made for a very moist cake, a bit wetter than I prefer, and the rum gave it a pronounced "alcohol-based dessert" flavor that's not my favorite. My cake was definitely wet and fake-tasting with a boozy burn.

To be fair to the recipe, user error was probably part of the problem in several ways:

-I accidentally got butterscotch pudding instead of vanilla, and decided to try it anyway. It is a fact that fake butterscotch is nastier than fake vanilla by at least a factor of ten.

-Also, I did not time the simmering step- it did stop smelling alcoholic and was likely over 5 minutes (and since fairness goes both ways, may well have even been 10), but I imagine a couple of minutes makes a big difference with that much alcohol to evaporate.

-Also, I just really don't like rum and whiskey and all those sweet vanilla-y brown spirits. But the essay was wonderful, so I thought... you know... that it would be different this time!

The walnut crust on top is wonderful, though! I look forward to incorporating that into future baking projects. All-in-all, it was probably objectively okay. I say these things not to criticize, but to warn other haters of alcohol-based-desserts that even this recipe probably won't win them over.

Thank you again for the wonderful essay and for sharing your family recipe! I am glad to see it's been well-made and appreciated in many homes.
Von D. December 28, 2018
Thanks for your compliments to my essay! I'm sorry you didn't love it, but I think your adjustments may have been just enough to shift the flavor. If you'd like to try it again with a recipe that's more from scratch, check out my adaptation here:
Gayle D. October 17, 2018
Can rum flavoring be used in place of white rum?
Von D. October 17, 2018
Hi Gayle! I've never tested rum flavoring so I can't verify the proportions or consistency. But my instinct is to use significantly less flavoring than the recommended rum (perhaps start with a tablespoon), add a bit more water, and test it until it tastes right. The rum syrup is fairly forgiving, so you should be able to play with it until you get it how you want it. Suerte!
Janet V. August 16, 2018
Thanks for your reply.I addedliquid according to cake mix..what about pudding?? As it needs 2 cups...good thing I only added 3|4 cup liquid...the cake has been baking an hour and is not firm still hopeful!
Janet V. August 16, 2018
Am baking the cake now...did not know what to do for liquid as you DO NOT mention liquid at all or do you mention it by saying to follow directions on cake mix and you do NOT mention liquid that might be needed for the pudding mix.I m on standby right now...will get back to you.Thanks.
Von D. August 16, 2018
Hi Janet - sorry you’re having trouble. Cake mixes are all different, so I refrained from adding exact amounts of butter and eggs. Instead, I recommend following the instructions on the cake mix for those liquid items. I hope that helps!
FrugalCat April 27, 2018
I made it with dark rum and it was fantastic. Ironically, I had bought a bag of finely chopped walnuts a week ago and had no idea what to do with them.
Von D. May 3, 2018
Wonderful! Glad you enjoyed it. Pecans also work great.
Chanteclar April 27, 2018
How many eggs?
Von D. May 3, 2018
It's deliberately not included here because it depends on the box cake mix you decide to use. Thanks for commenting!
Toni April 26, 2018
So no water in with the eggs, rum and pudding mix?
Lace S. May 3, 2018
I wondered the same thing. I ended up using 1/4 cup of water and it came out great.
Von D. May 3, 2018
Glad it worked for you, Lace! That ingredient is deliberately not included here because it depends on the box cake mix you decide to use. Thanks for trying my recipe!
Lace S. May 4, 2018
In fact, we liked it so much that I just pulled my second one out of the oven.
Von D. May 6, 2018
The best compliment!
Tama M. April 25, 2018
Good recipe but I use pecans instead. Yum
Von D. April 26, 2018
Di April 25, 2018
I never knew a box cake mix cake in butter flavor, I knew of only white, yellow, chocolate and marble mixes. Any particular brand you prefer? And would it matter if the cake mix uses oil or butter? Butter I am guessing would suit this recipe best.
Von D. April 25, 2018
Mami often used Duncan Hines.

And oil works just fine but butter is much more delicious.
denise M. April 25, 2018
Von D. April 25, 2018
Hi Denise! It's deliberately not included here because it depends on the box cake mix you decide to use. Thanks for commenting!