How to Make a Tortuga Rum Cake




About: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher. In the remainder of my life, I am a mother of two handsome grown men, a wife to a very patient man, a nana of two precious grandchildren,...

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:

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Understand the Procedure...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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

Step 6: 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...

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...

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.

3 People Made This Project!


  • Spicy Challenge

    Spicy Challenge
  • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

    Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
  • Games Contest

    Games Contest

62 Discussions

Galia Hutchnson

4 months ago

I was rather disappointed in the finished cake, i wanted to taste the cake but it was so saturated with the rum syrup that was about all you could taste. I carefully followed the recipe and even bought expensive rum for the cake.
If i ever bake it again I will use less of the syrup. Sorry, all the other reviewers seem to rave about the cake.

1 reply
WUVIEGalia Hutchnson

Reply 4 months ago

So sorry to hear you did not like it. Did you try to eat it right away, or did you allow the cake to set overnight in order for it to absorb the rum? I remember the first time I had this cake, I felt the same way, until it was refrigerated overnight. :-)

My first Tortuga home made cake, Delicious. I let the cake set overnight. I used the Banana Tortuga Rum, my next one will be Pineapple Rum. I want to add extra rum in the next one.

Will be posting soon Brewer D Winrow


1 year ago

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.


3 years ago

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.



3 years ago

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


3 years ago

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.

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

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. :-)


3 years ago

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

1 reply
Jolopones ElaineH19

Reply 3 years ago

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


3 years ago on Step 8

how do you print the recipe?


3 years ago on Introduction

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. :)


4 years ago on Introduction

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.

1 reply

7 years ago on Introduction

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.

2 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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. :)


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

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! :-)



4 years ago on Step 7

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!!


4 years ago

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.