Cayman Islands Copycat: Caribbean-Style Dark Rum Cake

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(Original Post Date:  March 4, 2010)

After returning from a trip to the Caribbean, my sister-in-law and her husband gave us a Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake, a specialty of the Cayman Islands.  It was vacuum-sealed in plastic, packed inside a hexagonal cardboard box.  How good could a vacuum packed cake really be?  We found out one morning when we had run out of breakfast danishes, and decided to give the rum cake a try…

The Tortuga Rum Cake was to die for!  Moist, sweet, buttery… with a delightful rum flavor.  So I decided this would be my next baking adventure… an attempt to duplicate the Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake.  I searched and found a similar recipe for a “Bacardi Rum Cake“, but it utilized yellow cake mix as the base.  Now, not to knock cake mix – sometimes I like to use it – but I was in the mood to try something a little less “convenient”.  So I kept searching, and found a recipe called “Almost Tortuga Rum Cake“.  It called for cake flour and a certain brand of rum, and I didn’t have any, so I made some substitutions and revisions.  It tastes pretty close to the original, as much as I can remember, and my picky husband even said “this is good” (which is high praise from him):

Caribbean Style Dark Rum Cake:

  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
  • 3 T. + 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 3.5 oz box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. dark rum (I used Bacardi Select)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Rum Soaking Glaze:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. dark rum

1.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a Bundt pan with butter, and sprinkle the walnuts on the bottom.

2.  In the work bowl of a food processor, add the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, and 3 T. of canola oil.  Pulse until the mixture comes together as coarse crumbs.

3.  Dump the flour mixture into a large bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients.  Whisk until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

4.  Pour the cake batter on top of the walnuts in the prepared Bundt pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until done.  Remove the cake from the oven, and set on a rack to cool.

5.  Meanwhile, make the rum glaze.  Gently heat the sugar, water, and butter in a saucepan until bubbly and sugar is dissolved.  Continue to simmer, while stirring, until slightly thickened.  Remove the pan from the heat, and add the rum.

6.  Slowly pour the hot rum glaze over the warm cooling cake, a little bit at a time until fully absorbed (about 5 minutes).

7.  Once cake is completely cool, turn out onto a serving platter.


  1. Bambini says:

    hi mika, it’s me again! your reader from Bacolod City, Philippines. is there a way to make the instant vanilla pudding mix from scratch? the groceries here have Jello instant chocolate pudding mix but no vanilla.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi There! Hmm… that’s a tough one. You might try substituting 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 T. cornstarch, and an extra 1 tsp. of vanilla extract for the vanilla pudding mix in this recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

    • Mika Mika says:

      I did a little bit internet research, and found this recipe for homemade vanilla pudding mix. You can trying using 1/2 c. of the following as a substitute for the instant vanilla pudding mix in the recipe:
      Homemade Vanilla Pudding Mix:
      1 cup granulated sugar
      ¾ cup cornstarch
      ¾ cup nonfat dry milk powder
      1 teaspoon kosher salt
      2 whole vanilla beans

      1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, milk powder, and salt; set aside.

      2. Split open the vanilla beans and use the back of a knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the sugar mixture, and again whisk well to evenly combine, using a fork or the back of the spoon to break up any chunks of vanilla bean seeds. Cut the empty vanilla bean pods into two or three pieces each.

      3. Place the vanilla bean pieces into an airtight container or jar, and add the sugar mixture. Seal it, and then give it a few good shakes to distribute the vanilla bean pieces evenly. Store in a cool, dry place.

      To make pudding: Combine 2 cups of milk with ½ cup of the instant pudding mix in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 3 to 5 minutes). Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  2. Bambini says:

    thank you for prompt your reply. will let you know how it turns out.