Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Chef Mireille
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Copycat Tortuga Rum Cake is a rum soaked cake that is laced with rum – included in the batter as well as being fed with a delicious rum glaze. This Tortuga Rum Cake Recipe is different than many recipes you will find for this popular Caribbean Rum Cake. Instead of using processed pudding mix and boxed yellow cake mix, this recipe is a from scratch natural recipe, avoiding the use of processed ingredients.
Best of all, this Tortuga Rum Cake from Scratch still has the amazing flavor and texture you get from the Tortuga Rum Cake often sold in airport duty free shops in the Caribbean.
This Tortuga Rum Cake is one of two types of Rum Cakes that are made especially during the holiday season in the Caribbean – the other being Black Cake.
This year, I'm excited to take part in Eat the Culture’s 2023 Holiday Recipe Exchange: Party Pairings for All the Holidays! Holidays often revolve around communal moments – sharing stories, laughter, and, of course, food. This year's roundup is all about those delightful 'lite bites' and drinks that set the tone for festive gatherings.
I had the pleasure of partnering with Kate of We Eat At Last who crafted a delicious Kenyan Tangawizi Chai. This delicious Ginger Tea pairs perfectly with my Caribbean Rum Cake. Learn more about Eat the Culture and find a complete list of recipes from all participants here. Share these recipes with your friends and loved ones and follow each participant by using the hashtags #HolidayswithETC, #PerfectPartyPairings, and #ETCHOLIDAYS2023 on Instagram
Rum in the Caribbean
Although rum is also produced in India & the Philippines, most rum is produced in the Caribbean. Every island has it’s own brand with the locals being extremely loyal to their country’s brand. Some of the larger islands even have several brands.
All Caribbean islands have large sugarcane plantations. Sugar is one of the major GDP in most of the Caribbean except on islands like Aruba, which is a tropical desert.
Distilled from sugarcane, rum began to be produced in the 17th century when the enslaved people discovered that molasses, a by product of sugar refining, could be fermented into alcohol.
Since then, it is a vital part of our culture and cuisine. From this type of rum cake to Black Cake to Rum Punch to Kremas (eggless eggnog), no party is complete without some food or drink made with rum. My mom never made a single cake without adding a few tablespoons of rum.
The first alcoholic drink I ever had was Rum Punch. When we were kids maybe around age 12 or 13, they started letting us have very small portions of Rum Punch for special occasions, although diluted with a lot of ice.
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Tortuga Rum Cake
This cake is not simply infused with rum flavor so that you just get a slight aftertaste. This cake is drunk with rum, literally, as the methodology involves feeding the cake with a rum syrup after it has been baked.
If you have ever travelled to the Caribbean, you may have purchased a Tortuga Rum Cake from the duty free shop prior to departing. It is quite famous, although to be honest, I have never had one.
When I visit the Caribbean, I am usually so filled with delicious home cooking from my family that I am not usually looking for cakes when I am getting ready to leave.
However, I was at a food festival a few weeks ago when I tasted this type of Rum Cake and I knew I had to figure out how to replicate it. The vendor was so nice and explained to me how she made it.
You will find many versions of this cake recipe online and in Caribbean cookbooks, however most of them use vanilla pudding mix in the batter. I always try to cook with natural products whenever possible, so I wanted to come up with a from scratch version but that would still have the moist and tender crumb but does not include processed pudding mix. Therefore mine is a bit of a departure from the original recipe, but still has the same soft and moist tender crumb.
I know I succeeded as the people I shared this cake with couldn’t stop raving about it and now I have been requested to make this for a few people for Christmas. This cake is so soft and moist and drunk with rum. It is like a rum cocktail in cake form!
TYPES OF RUM
There are basically three types of rum, depending on how long it has been aged – white, amber or dark. I’ve made this cake with both white rum and amber rum at different times, but you can use whichever you have about. Some people also mix and may use half white and half dark rum when making it.
Don’t drink alcohol?
You can use this same methodology, but use juice instead of rum. Use mango juice or papaya or guava to at least keep it along the tropical themes from the Caribbean!
Travel to the Caribbean
I hope with all this talk of rum and the delicious recipes you saw this week, you have been inspired to plan your next vacation to the Caribbean. Looking for ideas? How about Dominica? With its unspoiled beauty, it is a great destination for nature lovers!
Now let’s get to this delicious recipe! Here are some tips to make sure you achieve the perfect Caribbean Rum Cake (no pudding version)
- This recipe may seem like a bit of departure as many use dry pudding mix and/or yellow cake mix, however this is an rum cake recipe from scratch. Therefore, these processed box mixes are not utilized in this all natural recipe. The use of dry milk powder gives the cake the same soft and tender texture.
- Most versions include chopped walnuts, however I have nut allergies. You may utilize the nuts as you prefer, when indicated in the recipe instructions.
- You can use either a 9″ or 10″ cake pan, but you will get more height in the cake (like in the first image) if you use the 9″ cake pan.
How to Feed Caribbean Rum Cake
- It may seem like a lot of syrup when you make the rum glaze, but don’t be afraid when you see the soaking glaze go almost to the top of the cake pan. I promise you – it is not too much sauce.
- Within 2-3 minutes, the cake will have absorbed all of the liquid.
- After the glaze has been absorbed, wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Don’t cut the cake until the next day. This will seal in all of the rum flavor.
The next day the cake will be so soft and spongy!
Caribbean Rum Cake is a soft and moist cake to be enjoyed during holiday time or any special occasion! This from scratch version of Caribbean Rum Cake is super soft and moist and drunk with rum – as it should be!
Are you ready to make the best rum cake recipe ever?
Rum Cake Ingredients
- all purpose flour
- dry milk powder (full fat)
- baking powder
- white sugar
- firmly packed brown sugar
- vanilla extract
- Chopped walnuts (optional)
How to Make Rum Cake
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients including the rum and mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Spray the cake pan with non stick spray.
- If using nuts, sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan.
- Bake in a 350 F oven for 45 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the rum syrup.
- To make the rum glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Add the rest of the rum syrup ingredients to the saucepan and let it simmer another 5 minutes.
- As soon as the cake is finished, the first thing to do is to pierce the hot cake with toothpicks and pour the rum sauce over the cake.
- The cake will drink up the rum.
- Let the cake cool on a cooling rack.
- Wrap the cool cake tightly with both plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
- This cake tastes best when enjoyed a few days after it is baked so the rum has time to be completely incorporated into the hot cake.
This cake made the perfect combination with the Kenyan Ginger Tea. Who needs Pumpkin Spice Latte when you have this awesome treat to enjoy during the holiday season.
Tortuga Rum Cake Recipe
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle chopped nuts on bottom of pan (if using).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, milk powder, baking powder, cornstarch, salt and sugars.
- Using the paddle attachment, mix to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine oil, eggs, rum and vanilla extract. Mix well.
- Add to dry ingredients in the mixer and mix well until thoroughly incorporated.
- Transfer the cake batter to prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Turn off oven and leave cake in oven for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine butter, salt, sugar and water.
- Cook on medium high heat until the butter melts. Boil for 2 minutes.
- Add rum and cook for another 5 minutes on low heat.
- Let cake rest for 5 minutes.
- With a rubber spatula, go around the perimeter of the cake, making sure it is not sticking anywhere.
- Poke holes all over with a toothpick.
- Pour rum glaze over cake and wait 2-3 minutes until the cake has absorbed all of the liquid.
- Let the cake cool in the cake pan.
- Remove the sides of the springform pan.
- Flip cake over onto a plate.
- Using a rubber spatula, carefully remove the bottom of the cake pan.
- Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, using 2 plates to invert cake back and forth until it is properly wrapped.
- On the next day, unwrap the cake, slice and enjoy!
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