Introduction: How to Make a Tortuga Rum Cake

Picture of How to Make a Tortuga Rum Cake

The very first step in making a rum cake is to set aside your inhibitions.

Allowed to season for at least a day, your cake will not have a ‘smelly alcohol’ scent, nor will it taste as though you’ve doused your dessert with a drink. Or two.

This recipe is a clone of a well-known cake sold in the Cayman Islands by the makers of the rum used in this recipe - Tortuga. It is said to be difficult to find, but can be purchased in better liquor stores, often ordered by the store. Worth checking into. See the image in step 1 (not to be confused with this intro) so you will know what to look for in the liquor store.

Don't run at the note of 'clone', as this cake is indeed delicious, the next best thing to an actual Tortuga Rum Cake from the Carribean. If you are unable to locate this rum, Whaler's Vanille (not a typo) can be substituted.

Kudos to "Heart 'n Soul" of Minnesota, courtesy of for sharing this recipe with the world. This recipe is referred to as the 'Almost Tortuga Rum Cake'.

Alterations in text, but not the recipe, by Karen Manasco

Special thanks to Instructables member Starshipminivan, who reminded us that September 19 is
International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Grab your bottle of rum and make a cake, or walk the plank!
See more at:

Step 1: Understand the Procedure...

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Directions: Cake will consist of three steps. Please read entire recipe before starting.
Ensure you have all of the ingredients, as some are listed twice, and even thrice among all three steps.

Basic mix - You will first create a basic mix that can be refrigerated for several months. But why wait?

Batter - This is added to the basic mix as stated above

Rum glaze - The finishing touch

Step 2: Make the BASIC MIX...

Picture of Make the BASIC MIX...

Basic Mix

* 2 cups Pillsbury Softasilk cake flour (don't skimp, just buy it)
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 4 teaspoons baking powder (check the date, use fresh powder)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup or one stick of butter (not margarine)
* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (do not add to mix or batter)

1. Create the Basic mix by combining all ingredients as listed above, but do not add walnuts
    They will be chopped and placed into the bottom of the Bundt pan before baking.
2. Mix in a large bowl at medium speed until mix is well blended, yet still chunky.
3. It is said this mix can be kept up to three months when refrigerated.

Step 3: Preheat the Oven, Prepare the Pan...

Picture of Preheat the Oven, Prepare the Pan...

Preheat oven to 325°.
Spray a large Bundt cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.
I prefer to use Pam butter flavored spray.

Evenly spread 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts into the bottom of the Bundt pan.
I can't say enough about hubby's Pampered Chef cheese grater for this step.
Three dollars at a yard sale, can't be beat.

Step 4: Make the BATTER...

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Add the following batter mix to your basic mix. Yes, you will be adding
the batter ingredients together with the basic mix you made in Step 2, all
in the same mixing bowl at this time.

To create the batter, you will need the following:

* 1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
* 1/2 cup milk
* 4 eggs
* 1/2 cup Tortuga Gold Rum
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (May I suggest Watkins brand vanilla?)

1. Mix on medium speed with an electric mixer for two to three minutes.
Make certain your batter is smooth and lump free.

See Step 6...

Step 5: Mix the BASIC With the BATTER...

Picture of Mix the BASIC With the BATTER...

3. Observe the cute heart shape created in the mixture.

Step 6: Pour the Batter Into the Prepared Bundt Pan...

Picture of Pour the Batter Into the Prepared Bundt Pan...

Pour batter into the Bundt pan (remember, you have already sprayed the pan and sprinkled the chopped walnuts into the bottom)

Set a timer and bake approximately 55 minutes. Ensure a knife inserted into the cake will come out clean, and the cake is a beautiful golden yellow and brown. Remove cake from oven, set aside to cool on a wire rack. Don't worry if the cake has a split ring on the top. It is normal for this to occur.

Step 7: Create the Glaze...

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While the cake is baking, create the rum glaze. This is the glaze you will drizzle on the
cake while it is still in the Bundt pan.

* 1/2 cup butter (for the third time, do not use margarine)
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup Tortuga Gold Rum

1. Combine butter, water and sugar in a small saucepan.

2. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Don't turn your back. It will boil over!

3. Reduce heat, simmer until sugar dissolves to create a syrup. Slowly but steady. If the glaze seems a bit watery, now is the time to turn the heat back up, but be careful, and keep stirring, then turn it down and it should thicken up.

4. Remove from heat, slowly add rum, and stir well. Do not try to bring the mix back to a boil once you have already added the rum. Don't ask me why, just don't do it. Okay, ask me. But I may fib about what really happened.

See step 8...

Step 8: Pour the Glaze Onto the Cake...

Picture of Pour the Glaze Onto the Cake...

While the cake is cooling, pour some of the glaze evenly over the cake. Don't panic, the cake will absorb the glaze and it will not be soggy. Take your time, pour a little here and there, allow it to soak in, fix yourself a glass of tea, add some more, check your email, add a little more glaze. Continue until all glaze is used on the cake. If you dump the entire pan full of glaze on the cake at once, your cake may be a flop. Patience.

Allow the cake to completely cool before carefully turning it over onto a cake plate or serving platter.
Don't touch it, don't taste it, don't play with it, and especially don't move it.

The next day, enjoy. Sure, you can eat it now, but why rush a good thing. Be patient. It's worth it!
Personally, I find the cake just a tad naked, so I will likely create a light glaze with powdered sugar to drizzle neatly on the top.

Stand back and admire your cake. Brag about your cake. Share the recipe. And maybe the rest of the rum.


forrie (author)2017-09-18

Tortuga rum cakes are also much more firm; this may be from shortening, partially. I've spent a lot of time studying it, and I've tried many recipes and nothing really comes close. Tortuga likes to promote their recipe as 100 years old, but I think they are full of it ;) They recently outsourced their baking to a commercial baker, as I recall, and I noticed how the quality of the cakes diminished. I also believe Tortuga puts flavoring into the glaze, such as artificial rum, coconut, etc.

nycisco (author)2016-04-24

I just had some Tortuga Rum Cake for the first time and I'm hooked. This recipe is just what I was looking for. I'm going to give this try.


LindaD107 (author)2016-04-17

I WILL be trying this, had it in Grand Cayman, loved it! Normally hate cake!

tkerth made it! (author)2016-03-14

I didn't have the right kind of pan but tried it anyways! Really great and got us kinda buzzed. Thanks.

SeanA31 (author)2016-01-07

I've made this about a half dozen times now. I have to say it is damn delicious! I use Sailor Jerry's rum, BTW. This cake is good enough to give as a gift. It'll make you look like a pro.

WUVIE (author)SeanA312016-01-09

Wow, what a great post, thank you! It is always good to know that others like the recipes posted. I sure appreciate that you took the time to let me know. :-)

Edwin N DawnH made it! (author)2015-12-09

I've made this cake about nine times now. It is always a hit. I even used golden butter cake mix. This time i added caramel apple frosting as a glaze. Perfection!!!.

ElaineH19 (author)2015-11-10

I live in NC and there is no Pillsbury softasilk cake flour. What other kind can you use?

Jolopones (author)ElaineH192015-12-04

I also live in NC. Walmart sells it. It may not be by the other flours. It may be with the cake mixes.

JanisF2 (author)2015-09-14

how do you print the recipe?

hermit57 (author)2015-08-22

You want to use 2 teaspoons Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract in the BATTER portion of the recipe. A good Tortuga Rum substitute is Malibu Spice Island Rum with coconut liqueur. Add a pinch or two of Roasted Saigon Cinnamon to the glaze. It's that hint of flavor you can't quite put your finger on that makes all the difference in that wonderfully mysterious flavored rum cake. For those asking about using a cake mix, I have used this with good success:

You can use a white cake mix and the box of vanilla pudding;

4 eggs

3/4 c. vegetable oil

3/4 c. water.

2 teaspoons Madagascar Pure Vanilla

Mix all ingredients together well, then pour into prepared Bundt pan according to original recipe above. (I like using PAM for baking. Good flavor without distracting from cake flavor). Bake at 325 for 45 minutes

. Finish up with the rum glaze according to original recipe above. Hope this helps. Hope you like the changes. :)

kkarlinkamin (author)2015-07-30

I have baked this cake 3-4 times now and it is a hit. Follow the directions exactly and you can't go wrong. I will never by the tortuga cakes in the caribbean again.

WUVIE (author)kkarlinkamin2015-08-03

Wow, glad you liked it, thank you for sharing!

kejoseph99 (author)2012-01-24

Hello WUVIE. Can you - or anyone else out there - help me? We used to live in the Cayman Islands and have very fond memories of Tortuga Rum Cake (the Blue Mountain Coffee was our favourite). Now we're back in a very wet and rainy UK and I'd love to make a nearly-authentic rum cake for my husband's birthday this week, just to remind us of all that lovely sunshine. I even have a proper bundt tin (rare over here). However, in the UK there is no such thing as Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding mix. What is it? Does anyone know if there is an acceptable substitute available here? For instance, is it the same as Angel Delight? I do remember seeing it in the supermarket in Cayman but we never tried it. I would welcome any suggestions.

JamesH40 (author)kejoseph992015-05-08

Hey kejoseph99. Sorry this seems a bit late after 3 years. I was born in the UK and now live as a permanent resident in the US, and I used to work on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and the Med, so I definitely understand how you feel about missing foods in different places. Anyway, I believe angel delight will work well as a sub for the jello. It has the same consistency. I'm trying this today. I definitely miss sampling the Tortuga Rum Cakes that we sold on our ship. :)

WUVIE (author)kejoseph992012-01-31

Oh my gosh, it just seems so strange that a product like Jell-O pudding would not be available widely. Ah, the things we take for granted.

Though I cannot vouch for the following site, I did find several people discussing the lack of pudding mix in the UK.

I sure hope this helps! :-)


sabrina.siano16 (author)2015-03-26

sabrina.siano16 (author)2015-03-26

I tried many rum cake recipes and had no success until i found this one!. I have made this recipe many times and it always comes out delicious!!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to be so detailed and give us this jewel of a cake recipe!!

hochs (author)2015-03-15

I used a Captain Morgan Rum Blend called 1671 to make the cake. I was bringing it for a gathering of friends who are foodies. They loved it! I think I will be asked to make it again in the near future. Thanks for the great instructible.

daenergymon made it! (author)2014-12-23

How do you get the cake out of the pan? I left it in overnight and it wouldn't come out

I didn't use the pudding.

kjgjam22 (author)daenergymon2015-02-26

dont let it cool all the way in the pan. i let it cool to as much as i can handle the pan.

WUVIE (author)daenergymon2014-12-23

Ouch. Did you try wiggling it? Tapping it on the side on a hard surface? Also, I see three pans. Did you try to divide the batter into three pans, and did you spray or oil the pan before pouring in the batter? :-(

garrett.jax.7 (author)2015-01-02

Okay ... I got to the last part about pouring on the glaze and was a bit perplexed as to how much time to take to pour ALL of the glaze on the cake since you said to be patient. I guess I was patient to an extreme because the cake cooled down before all the glaze had been used and, as I continued pouring, the glaze pretty much just sat on and around the cake and its cracks and crevices and the bottom of my cake turned out soggy.

So, for a novice such as me, would you say that I should have been more generous with the pouring while it was still hot. To be more precise I used a measuring cup to hold the contents of the glaze so about how much at a time should I have poured while the cake was still warm and cooling?

Other than that one small flaw I had, the cake was delicious!


kjgjam22 (author)garrett.jax.72015-02-26

I dont use the entire recipe for the glaze. i cut the recipe in half. i also pour it all on at once.

forrie (author)2011-09-12

I don't think Tortuga uses butter in their glaze. Also, whenever I make a cake, after glazing and it's set... there's always a lemony taste, and I can't understand why. I use Watkins, too.

The glaze is the real secret I think... probably loaded with vanillin or something that is other than what we think it is :-) I bet it's flavored sugar, less so any booze.

WUVIE (author)forrie2011-09-12

Aw, no fun, Forrie. I've never had the pleasure
of tasting an actual Tortuga Rum Cake. :-)

One day, one day... (sigh)

kjgjam22 (author)WUVIE2015-02-09

no need to are not missing anything .....this cake is 100 times way better than the actual tortuga cake.

WUVIE (author)kjgjam222015-02-25

Oh, that is good to hear, thank you! I thought I would never get a chance to try a real one, but it sounds like I'm in the clear. :-)

kjgjam22 (author)WUVIE2015-02-26

can you order it online? where do you live? i ca find out how much it will cost to send you a small one.

kristen.choffe (author)2015-01-09

Jim. I will be making the rum caramel corn next. I love rum!

kristen.choffe (author)2015-01-09

Just made this. Can't wait to try it! And you don't heat up the syrup again after adding the rum because it burns off all the alcohol!
My sister used to order these every Christmas. Love them. Really can't wait to eat this!!!

denis.e.brassfield (author)2014-12-26

me podrian enviar la receta por favor (ingredientes y como se hace paso a paso, graciass

ahhhh y donde puedo conseguir en panama este run tortuga gold

WUVIE (author)denis.e.brassfield2014-12-26

Hello Denis, I am so sorry, I do not speak Spanish. I tried to use Google Translate, but do not understand if you are saying something or asking something. Where do you live? :-)

Hola Denis , lo siento , yo no hablo español . Traté de usar Google Translate, pero no entienden si usted está diciendo algo o preguntar algo. Dónde vives? :-)

AileenO (author)2014-12-26

I've made this cake several times and it's always spectacular!

daenergymon (author)2014-12-22

I just make a straight sponge cake but I use rice flour instead with lots of eggs and butter and flavored rum.I don't think it tasted any different than the ones on island

jim.maroun (author)2014-12-19

For the past two holiday seasons I've made Rum Cake based off of this recipe. The only modifications is I add a couple of squirts of maple syrup to the cake mix and I use 3/4 of Kraken Black Spice Rum. Great stuff.

Rum cake got me thinking about rum Carmel corn. This is the first year I've tried it. I found a Carmel Corn recipe on and I added 3/4 cup of Kraken Black Spiced Rum during the boiling processes. OMG. This is totally delicious. Between my wife and I, I don't think we'll have any left for guests. Might have to make more.

By the way, I'm not a Rum drinker, but Kraken taste awesome. I took a couple of sips and I really think it makes a difference.

Hope this inspires. Good luck


Xavienne (author)2011-12-24

Just made one of these & a chocolate variant. Very tasty and so far a huge hit with my friends! I think I have a new holiday tradition!

billzack (author)Xavienne2012-10-03

can you provide the recipe for the chocolate variant of the rum cake?

starshipminivan (author)2011-09-19

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! I made this for dessert. Thank you for posting it!

WUVIE (author)starshipminivan2012-01-08

Wow, I don't know how I missed your post, Starship, but your cake looks fabulous!

forrie (author)2011-09-11

I've been working on trying to duplicate this rum cake recipe for a long time. Many disasters, some close.

I think their glaze has some flavoring (besides rum) in it. There's an almost crea my taste to it, it might be vanilla/vanillin. But the actual cake itself at the factory is very likely doctored up boxed yellow cake mix.

Anyone know more about the glaze.

the_burrito_master (author)2011-08-31

I love rum candy if this tastes anything like that then I well definitly have to try it some day. I like rum candy so much I'm scared I may one day be an alcoholic (rumaholic).

WUVIE (author)the_burrito_master2011-09-01

Hmm. Rum candy. Now there is one I have to try, thanks!

the_burrito_master (author)WUVIE2011-09-11

Omg even tho it's non alcoholic, the first few I had i hated and then I got addicted to them XD. I've got to get some more.

urnaa (author)2011-09-08


sunshiine (author)2011-09-06

Another wonder???? Must make this one also! Thanks for sharing! Have a splendorous day!

jongscx (author)2011-09-01

I would love to find a cake-mix equivalent to this, using the same methods, but making it more idiot-proof.

Also, have you tried making the other tortuga rum-cake variants? I remember they had like Chocolate, Pineapple (almost like pineapple upside-down doused in rum), and coconut I think...

RollerScrapper (author)jongscx2011-09-04

to be honest (and not to detract from what looks like a lovely recipe by WUVIE) i just make a boxed chocolate cake (any kind) and then douse it with malibu or parrot coconut rum, no glaze, just pure rum. Like WUVIE, i use a little bit at a time. People rave about this cake, especially if i make it in cupcake style. If you make cupcakes, i recommend the aluminum liners so the rum doesn't soak through the liner. It's a lot less steps and IMHO better than a tortuga cake b/c it's fresh...those tortuga cakes are fun in the carribean, and make great souvenirs, but if i'm craving a rum cake, i just whip up that rather than ordering one from amazon. BTW WUVIE, if you want to try one, you can order them from amazon, it's actually cheaper than buying them in the Cayman Islands...I discovered that trick and the year I went i didn't even have to lug back the souvenirs, i just ordered them and shipped them to my house and to my friends :)

I think WUVIE's recipe is worth a try though, the butter glaze sounds delicious!

WUVIE (author)jongscx2011-09-01

Oh my gosh, Jong, the other flavors, indeed! I would love to try the banana and coconut as well. It seems like I've seen something about a cake mix, I'll see if I can find it for you.

riff raff (author)2011-09-01

And definitely the rest of the rum. Arrrrr! *wink*

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