Golden Butter Rum Cake (with a Jonathan Gold Seal of Approval)

This luxurious boozy dessert deserves its claim to fame! Awarded “Best Tasting” by acclaimed food critic Jonathan Gold in 2014, my favorite Golden Butter Rum Cake recipe features a decadent yellow cake soaked in a slightly sweet, rum-infused syrup that will leave you (and your guests) clamoring for second servings.

I’ve got a rummy little treat for you today! I first made this Golden Butter Rum Cake in 2014 for UCLA’s annual Edible Book Festival, a literary celebration where bookworms like me get to bake their nerdiness into all sorts of crazy edible concoctions…and where I also had the amazing fortune to meet renowned LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold! I think my hand shook so much while I cut his slice of cake that it looked like something that’d been trampled by an overzealous zebra on parade.


As someone who regularly makes #PinterestFails like it’s her god-sworn duty, I am always, always, ALWAYS a proponent of great-tasting ugly desserts. If you can’t judge a book by its cover, then you most definitely can’t judge food by how much (or little) it resembles the plastic cake displays at discount French pastry shops. Apparently Jonathan Gold agreed, too, because spoiler alert: this cake ended up winning both Best Tasting and Best Student Entry categories, with a Jonathan Gold stamp of approval included!

And if that isn’t enough to convince you to try this cake stat, then you can just walk away and leave me & my butter rum cake be, thank you very much.

Even though I’ve tried many lovely cakes since then, this recipe is still one of our all-time favorites and (like a great bottle of booze) ages perfectly in our recipe collection, so I’m sharing it exactly as I did back in 2014–you’ll find the full award-winning recipe below. And a big warm thanks to Jonathan Gold–it’s been six years and we miss you dearly, but this golden butter rum cake is still for you, sir.

Butter Rum Cake

Butter Rum Cake

This luxurious boozy dessert deserves its claim to fame! Awarded "Best Tasting" by acclaimed food critic Jonathan Gold, my favorite Golden Butter Rum Cake recipe features a decadent yellow cake soaked in a slightly sweet, rum-infused syrup that will leave you (and your guests) clamoring for second servings. This is the same recipe that I shared with him in 2014, and it only gets better with time.


For the yellow cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons and 1/2 cup oil, divided
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (you may substitute Kahlua instead)
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored liqueur; you may substitute rum instead)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the syrup:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua (swap out as much Kahlua for dark rum as you'd like)


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease and generously flour the inside of your 10-cup bundt cake pan. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixture on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons oil; mix in on low speed until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add instant pudding mix and mix on low speed for another minute, until combined.
  3. Add eggs, milk, rum, Kahlua, remaining 1/2 cup oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until completely combined, about 2-3 minutes. As Brown-Eyed Baker notes, this will be a very thin batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center of cake comes out mostly clean, with moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick.
  5. As you wait for your cake to finish baking (with about 10 minutes left), make your rum syrup (see instructions below). Once your cake comes out of the oven, wait 5 minutes, then very carefully wiggle your cake out of the pan (I used my spatula and ran it around the edges gently), inverting it onto a large serving platter. Poke lots of holes all over your cake--yes, even on the sides--with a chopstick or toothpick.
  6. Using a brush, slowly smear warm rum sauce all over your cake. You'll really want to slow down and smother your cake at this point, making sure the sauce seeps fully into the holes and not down the sides of the cake. This process may take a while: it took me a full 20 minutes to make sure all the rum got in, but this is really the key step to achieving that awesome flavor/texture contrast!
  7. Once you're done soaking your cake to the max, slice and serve immediately, and keep any leftovers (what leftovers?) stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For the rum/Kahlua sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to create a thinnish syrup. Remove from heat and immediately stir in Kahlua or rum.

The actual Direct Message I received from Jonathan Gold the day after the Edible Book Festival:




2 Replies to “Golden Butter Rum Cake (with a Jonathan Gold Seal of Approval)”

  1. Cake? Rum? Yes! 🙂 This is a wonderful recipe — my kind of stuff. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, John! Also, so nice to see you again–hope you’ve been staying well!!

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