This Rum-Raisin Bundt Cake from Cooking Light is the perfect way to wow friends and family during the holidays (or any time).
I grew up eating rum cakes at Christmas. Actually, I need to rephrase that. I grew up with rum cakes in our house. Sometimes I ate them. Other times the alcohol fumes that rose from them were strong enough to send a little kid like me running in the other direction.
Mom calls all bundt cakes babka, not surprising considering that my grandmother was Polish, the place where the name originated. The difference is that an official Eastern European babka is a yeast cake, where my mom’s versions are loaded with butter and contain no yeast, landing them fully in the pound cake camp.
However, I need to step back from that statement (again). Sometimes my mom doesn’t call the rum cake a babka. Sometimes it’s a Baba au Rhum, which, when loosely translated (it’s French), means babka steeped in rum.
Whatever name they’re called, Mom’s pretty passionate about them. She considers them the perfect food. According to her, the fact that they contain flour, eggs and butter (grain, protein and dairy) make them suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
That’s why I make sure to bring one every time we visit at Christmas. Not only does it make her eyes light up, but it means I’m able to control the amount of alcohol that goes into it.
Which makes Dudette very happy.
Raisins and rum. Combined. Swoon. I really liked Cooking Light’s way of steeping the raisins quickly and used it when I made a second batch of Cognac and Cranberry Scones. It works like a charm.
As with all cakes, this one combines the dry stuff in one bowl and the wet stuff in another. The recipe is lightened up by using just a quarter cup of butter for flavoring and a half cup of oil for the rest. Vanilla extract provides the rich flavor (along with the rum).
There’s one little direction that’s important to remember; drain the raisins over a bowl, not in the sink. The rum will be used in the syrup that gets brushed over the cake.
The rum syrup was actually one bit of direction that I didn’t follow. Instead of brushing it on the cake, I removed the cake from the pan, then put it back in. I poured the syrup over the cake and let it seep in. When it was all absorbed, I flipped the cake onto my plate and it was done.
Whether you call this a bundt, a babka or a Baba au Rhum, it’s delicious. We all love it and no one could guess that it was lightened up a bit. The two teaspoons of vanilla and orange and lemon zest do a fantastic job of boosting the flavor and making the cake rich and decadent. I just hope my mom’s willing to share.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d double the amount of raisins.
- ⅔ cup golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons dark rum (such as Myers's)
- 12 ounces cake flour (about 3 cups)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1⅓ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
- Baking spray with flour
- 3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine raisins and rum in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature.
- Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add oil, 1 cup granulated sugar, rinds, and vanilla; beat at medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Drain raisins through a sieve over a bowl; reserve liquid. Stir raisins into batter. Pour batter into a 10-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan; place on serving plate.
- Combine remaining ⅓ cup granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in reserved rum. Brush syrup over warm cake. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Whatever method you use to apply the rum syrup to the cake, it’s important that the cake still be warm when you do it because it will absorb the syrup better that way. I chose to avoid the powdered sugar and we didn’t miss it at all.