Red Velvet Rum Cake

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Every now and then, my boss flies into town and pays her subordinates a visit.  During her most recent visit, one of my colleagues and I were dealing with an ongoing project, and she was feeling fairly overwhelmed.  As a joke, she asked our boss to approve the shipment of a cake just for her (she works out in California) to boost her morale.  Unbeknownst to her, my boss thought that this was a good idea, and asked me to make one to ship to her.

Drinking on the job is, for obvious reasons, frowned upon.  But, there’s nothing stopping us from sending the booze in the form of a cake.  But, my boss reminds me that my colleague’s favorite cake is red velvet.  Yes, but red velvet cake needs the cream cheese icing, which would never survive a trip without professional food packaging.  A rum cake is much more likely to make it to its destination with little to no deterioration in quality, because of the alcohol content helping to keep it fresh.  My boss ponders a bit, then asks “Well, could you make a red velvet rum cake?”

Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

Much to my surprise, there weren’t a whole lot of recipes out there for red velvet rum cake.  Perhaps most feel like red velvet is best left alone.  So, I took a red velvet bundt cake recipe and tweaked a few things to make it work how I wanted it to work.


It starts like a basic pound cake.  Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add the eggs.  Beat until combined, and then add the vanilla extract.  While that’s working, sift your dry ingredients into a bowl.



Whisk the buttermilk, rum, and food coloring together.  Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Lastly, add the vinegar and mix until just combined.  Pour the batter into a well-greased bundt pan.


The cake will bake for about an hour.  When the cake is almost ready to come out of the oven, make the glaze by cooking sugar, butter, and water until dissolved and bubbling.  Remove from heat and add the rum.  I usually start the glaze 10 minutes before the cake is done, and then it’s still plenty hot when it’s time for the final step.


Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the cake, then slowly pour the glaze over the cake.  Let it cool for an hour or two in the pan before unmolding.


BAM!  Drunken red velvet cake!

red velvet rum cake

Since it’s a rum cake, it doesn’t really need a glaze.  But, I happened to have some cream cheese icing lying around, so I thinned it down with some milk and poured it over the cake.  It does add a little extra “something” to the cake, but it’s not a necessity.

Sometimes, combining two good things – like chocolate and peanut butter – creates magic.  Other times – like with turducken – you just have to wonder what evils in the world would spawn such a monstrosity.  This cake was the former.  Somehow, the red velvet and the rum didn’t clash.  In the week that I first made this cake, I ended up making it 2 more times.  The demand was THAT high.  Sprinkle with green sprinkles, and you’ve got a perfect holiday treat!

Red Velvet Rum Cake

(adapted from Red Velvet Bundt Cake)


For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1 oz Red Food Color
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup rum


Preheat oven to 325°.  Grease a large bundt pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition.  Stir in vanilla extract.

In a measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, rum, and food coloring together.  Sift the dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Pour into prepared bundt pan.

Bake at for 1 hour, or until knife or skewer inserted into the cake comes back clean.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to glaze.

Make the glaze:  Place butter, sugar, and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring, until butter is melted.  Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes, or until sugar is completed dissolved.  Remove from heat and slowly add the rum.  Pour the hot glaze over the warm cake.

Allow cake to cool for at least 1-2 hours before removing from the pan, then cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, glaze red velvet rum cake with cream cheese icing.

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