Rum cake will always be one of my favorites! It's hard to put my finger on exactly why I love this brown butter and pecan rum cake so much, but the combo of the rich flavors of the rum combined with a vanilla yellow cake base, brown butter and pecans always puts me in the best mood!
Growing up my mom always made rum cake and I LOVED IT! It was buttery and delicious and I couldn't get enough. Once I moved out and started baking my own, I quickly realized that she had many workarounds to make this cake that included a box cake mix base and a box of instant vanilla pudding. Don't get me wrong, that version is still incredibly delicious, and easy to make, and I will eat it up with as much enthusiasm!
But I wanted to create a version that didn't require any pre-mixed ingredients. So after several trials, we landed on this version and OMG is it sooooo good and we will not go back to the boxed version ever again.
How to make rum cake from scratch?
The base of this rum cake is a yellow cake. Although they may seem similar, a yellow cake and a white cake are quite different based on ingredients, texture and flavor. The yellow cake gets its color from using whole eggs, and the yolks provide the color as well as the texture and richness in this cake. Additionally, yellow cakes often only use real butter, as opposed to shortening or oil. The end result is a light and fluffy cake that is rich and buttery.
For our version, instead of using just regular butter, we chose to make brown butter and use it in the cake. Brown butter has a slightly nutty taste and makes everything better in our opinion, so this variation was a no-brainer, especially with the flavor of dark rum.
So the first step in making this cake is to make the brown butter...
Make the Brown Butter
Making brown butter is very easy, but it needs to be done at least 30 minutes before starting this recipe to allow the butter to cool slightly towards room temperature before adding it to the cake mix. We often have brown butter in our fridge because we use it so often, so if you are like us, feel free to use what you have as long as you bring it to room temp.
If you have not made brown butter before, well you are in for a treat!
Brown butter is made by heating the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the milk solids begin to brown and it becomes fragrant with a slightly nutty aroma. This takes only about 5 minutes to accomplish. Once you've made your brown butter, it will need to cool for about 15-20 minutes before you add it to your cake mixture.
Mix your Cake Batter
The rest of this process is very straightforward. You simply combine your dry ingredients in one bowl, and follow the directions below to mix the batter. This recipe makes one large bundt cake for a 12-cup bundt pan. But we often make mini bundts with this or a combo of a smaller 6-cup bundt and mini bundts.
One thing we always make sure to do is spray any bundt pan we use with Baker's Joy before adding the batter. Baker's Joy is by far the best option to make sure your cake doesn't ever stick, but you can also use butter or shortening if you do not have it.
We prefer to use bundt cake pans for this cake since it has a butter rum sauce to soak in after baking, and the bundt pan is just so easy to use! But feel free to experiment with different options if you prefer layer cakes or cupcakes.
Bake your Cake
This cake bakes at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center of the cake comes out clean. But baking time is highly dependent on your own oven since ovens often vary, so we highly recommend you use the toothpick test. If your cake looks too brown on top during baking, you can cover it with foil for the remainder of the cook time as well.
Make your Butter Rum Sauce
Probably my favorite part of this cake is the butter rum sauce. What's not to love here, right??? Also, I'm a sucker for a Hot Buttered Rum around the holidays, which is in essence a drinkable version of this sauce.
The sauce is made by heating dark rum, butter, sugar and water. We don't always cook the alcohol out completely since we prefer our cakes to be slightly boozy at times, but if you prefer to cook out all the alcohol, you will follow the instructions to bring the ingredients to a gentle boil for 2 minutes, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 more minutes.
I usually start the sauce about 10 minutes before the cake is done baking so it will be ready when the cake comes out of the oven.
Once your cake comes out of the oven you want to pour the warm sauce right over the top of the cake while it is still in the bundt pan. To ensure that the sauce saturates the cake, use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake, then pour the sauce over slowly, allowing it to soak in as you pour. You can reserve some of the sauce to pour over the top of the cake before serving, as well.
Leave the cake in the bundt pan for about 20-30 minutes before turning it out onto a plate.
What type of Rum should I use?
For this particular rum cake, we prefer the flavor profile of dark rum (e.g., Captain Morgan or Goslings) over a white rum. You will still get a nice rum flavor with either option, but the dark rum is often made from molasses or burnt sugar and has a richer taste due to its aging process. These flavors lend themselves well to the overall taste of this cake so we encourage you to use dark rum here. For added spice, you can replace dark rum with spiced rum equally in this recipe.
We hope you enjoy this recipe for Brown Butter and Pecan Rum Cake! If you give it a try, leave us a comment before or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine.
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