Gluten-Free Rum Cake

I first experienced rum cake almost nine years ago when David and I went to the Bahamas to get married. I had never even seen it before then. But there, just after our wedding, in our hotel room, was a complimentary tin of Tortuga Rum Cake. My first thought was, “Meh.” I mean, rum is okay, but it’s not chocolate. I figured I would try a bite just to say that I had.

If you’ve had rum cake, you’ll know that my first bite was the beginning of a love affair with the stuff. Oh. My. Goodness! My taste buds have never been the same. Rum cake became the embodiment of all that is right about the Caribbean Islands. We have been back to the Bahamas several times since then, and each trip (except one) involved the ceremonial purchase and consumption of a rum cake.

And then I went gluten free. Our last trip to Nassau was just a few short months after I gave up gluten for good. I remember strolling past the souvenir stores and their displays of the little gold boxes and red lettering with their culinary treasures waiting inside, sadly thinking, “I’ll never be able to have one of those again.”

Until now.

I have been searching for this recipe for a while. There are lots of versions of rum cake out there, but most involve boxes of yellow cake mix and/or boxes of vanilla pudding mix. Um, no thank you. I haven’t actually researched this, but I’m pretty certain that rum cakes existed before Betty Crocker or Jell-O came onto the scene. So I kept looking, and eventually stumbled onto this recipe, originally featured in Southern Living. I have adapted it to be gluten free, and made a couple of other modifications. Sorry about the lack of photo. We’re still a camera-free household. If you click on the link to the original recipe, you’ll get a really good idea of what ours looks like. Or looked like, rather, before we devoured a large part of it.

When it came out of the oven, I exclaimed, “It looks like the real thing!” David looked at me like I was stupid, and said, “Honey, it is the real thing.” I love him! This cake tastes exactly like the rum cakes I remember. By the way, if you served this to someone and didn’t tell them it was gluten free, they would never know.

Gluten-Free Rum Cake

Yes, I know, it has over a pound of butter in it. And more sugar than any one person should ever consume. And booze. So make it for company, share, and enjoy. You only live once!

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup orange juice (banana liqueur or dark rum may be substituted)
3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used 2 cups plain rice flour and 1 cup corn starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream (I used half & half)
Rum Syrup (recipe below)
Powdered sugar

Beat butter and granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla, beating until blended. Gradually add rum and orange juice, beating until blended. (Batter will look curdled.)

Stir together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to batter alternately with cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 for 55 to 60 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Pierce cake multiple times using a metal or wooden skewer. Pour Rum Syrup evenly over cake. Let stand 45 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar before serving.

Rum Syrup

10 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum (or 1/4 cup each dark rum and banana liqueur)
Splash of orange juice (optional)

Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; stir in remaining ingredients except orange juice. Bring to a boil, stirring often; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and cool 10 minutes. Add splash of orange juice and stir well.

About Li

A writer, runner, and Gluten-Free Zealot, I've been helping others navigate the gluten-free lifestyle for many years. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and when you're gluten-free, it's even better!
This entry was posted in dessert, GGFRC2010, gluten-free. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Gluten-Free Rum Cake

  1. mare says:

    GAWD woman! I want to make a rum cake for our wedding dessert but I'd like the diabetic groom to live long enough to enjoy the wedding night…

    My mom always made a chocolate pecan rum cake for me for my birthday and when I saw the option on the menu I knew I'd just have to figure out how to make it possible!

  2. Li loves David says:

    mare – oh wow, a diabetic rum cake? I guess it's basically just a big pound cake, so if you have a diabetic-friendly spongy cake recipe, then sprinkle a little rum on it…

    I've never had a chocolate rum cake, that sounds heavenly!

    Thanks for stopping by!


  3. afoodiesfallfromgrace says:

    Awesome! Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I have been on a crazy cake kick recently, so I will definitely be trying this out. I'm like you, rum cake doesn't really sound appealing, but I'm going to take your word for it that I should give it a shot!

  4. Li loves David says:

    The cake itself is fabulous, and you could make the rum syrup and just try it on a piece if you're leery.

    Oh the sugar buzz… but totally worth it!

    Have fun with your baking! I'll stop by your blog and see what you're up to. 🙂


  5. mike says:

    I have been trying to find a gluten free rum cake for a while and I am very happy to come across your blog. Thank you for sharing this great recipe as I have tried it and it was really good! My wife and kid really loved it. It also went really well with a hot cup of coffee from my new espresso coffee maker Great post!

  6. Li loves David says:

    Mike, glad you liked it! The thought of rum cake and espresso has me drooling right now…


  7. Anonymous says:

    OMG! I made your rum cake the other night and it was AMAZING! Totally worth the calories as long as you don't have it very often. I also want to thank you for posting a recipe that doesn't require a box mix. I really love that the cake is really mad from scratch.

  8. Maite says:

    Hi. Love this recipe. Made it for my husband’s birthday last year and everyone loved it! Am going to make it again, but had lost my printed version so I looked it up again. I think the Rum Syrup directions did to make the move to the new website?

    • Li says:

      Maite, so sorry about that! And thank you so much for letting me know! I have the recipe updated now. Hope you enjoy it… have a piece for me, too! 🙂

  9. Olivier says:

    Hi, everyone. I just saw your website, and I thought I would post a reply.
    We just launched a Gourmet Gluten-free Rum Cake with all natural and freshest ingredients. Please check it out at

    Thank you 🙂

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