Key West Rum Cake 10.000
Jan 4, 1985

Popular on the Internet, this rich recipe makes the most of a successful lime and rum combination.

Servings: 10 - 12
  • For the cake
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • Fine dried bread crumbs, for dusting the pan
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecans, toasted (see NOTE), broken into medium pieces
  • For the rum syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light rum
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice


Position an oven rack on the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 13- or---cup capacity tube pan, then dust the interior walls with fine, dried bread crumbs; invert the pan over the sink to shake out any excess crumbs.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a large sheet of waxed paper.

Fill a large saucepan with 2 inches of water and heat to barely bubbling over medium heat. Place both of the chocolates in a medium stainless-steel mixing bowl, then set the bowl over the opening of the large saucepan. Let stand over the heat until the chocolate is almost all melted, then stir until it is completely melted and smooth.

Beat the butter on medium speed in the large bowl of stand mixer or with a hand-held electric mixer until it has softened. Reduce the speed to low; add the vanilla and almond extracts and then the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly incorporated after each addition. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as necessary with a flexible spatula and beating only until incorporated.

Use your fingers to scrape the beaters and then return them, unwashed, in the mixer. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Transfer 1 cup of the batter to a separate bowl for the mixer and add the baking soda and the melted chocolate; beat on low speed until well combined.

Use a spoon to spread the chocolate batter in a smooth layer in the bottom of the prepared tube pan.

Use a spatula to fold the pecans into the remaining cake batter; use a tablespoon to place that batter evenly over the chocolate layer. Smooth the top. Place on the bottom oven rack and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack to cool slightly.

While the cake is baking, prepare the rum syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; let the mixture come to a boil and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and let stand until almost completely cool, then add the rum and lime juice, stirring to combine. Spoon or brush the syrup over the hot cake until it all is absorbed.

While the cake is still warm, invert it onto a flat cake plate. Let cool completely before cutting. Make the slices fairly thick, to avoid crumbling.

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Recipe Source

From "Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts" (Knopf, 1985).

Tested by The Washington Post.

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