Olive Oil Pecan Rum Cake

A few years back, my dad and I went to a holiday dinner hosted by a mutual acquaintance. Teens are familiar with the routine: there is little to look forward to besides deep discussions with their elders and a huge spread of cheese and pâté. You wander aimlessly from one parent to the other, eat too many appetizers, and study the wallpaper in the guest bathroom.

The evening is never complete without dessert, and lo and behold, a rum cake was brought at the end of the meal as a contribution. I passed up the cookies and double-chocolate brownies at the supermarket in favor of a slice of that golden bundt cake, and I ATE THE ENTIRE THING.

Fantastic, sweet, rich, and moist with just the right amount of boozy surprise; easily the greatest bundt cake I’ve ever tasted.

That’s. Good.

Finding a recipe that could compete with that became my top objective.

Finally, I found a great rum cake recipe from Alejandra at Always Order Dessert. Her imitation of Tortuga rum cake is spot-on. Her recipe is practically perfect, although we changed a few things to suit our tastes.

We subbed in pecans for the walnuts, doubled the vanilla extract, and switched to olive oil for a deeper flavor. Since we like a dry crumb and a subtler rum flavor, we omitted the rum syrup, a common topping for rum cakes.


Homemade pudding:
  • 1/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup of nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar + 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
Rest of the cake:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup of finely crushed pecans
  • 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon
  • 3/4 cup of whole milk
  • 3/4 cup of dark rum
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil + 1/2 cup
  • 4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  1. Preparing homemade vanilla pudding mix requires combining the necessary ingredients. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, preheated.
  2. Grease and flour a bundt pan; then, scatter half of the crushed pecans in the bottom. It’s good to have some fine pecan dust along with the larger bits. Don’t bother with the rest of the pecans or the pan.
  3. Mix together 1 stick of butter and 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar in an electric mixer.
  4. Bring in your 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Separately, combine 1 3/4 cups flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients and the butter and sugar on low speed. The pudding mix should then be added. If you want an even blend, stop to scrape down the sides and restart the mixer. Crumb-like in appearance, the mixture is quite dry.
  6. Separately, combine the eggs, milk, rum, vanilla extract, and remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add it to the dry ingredients while the mixer is low; it will blend perfectly. Pour into the bundt pan you’ve greased.
  7. Add the remaining pecans to the extra tablespoons of flour and sugar. Add the mixture and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the batter.
  8. Allow the cake to bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You should give it another 10 to 15 minutes if the toothpick comes out clean but still glistens after testing a few different spots. The pudding mix causes the cake to firm while maintaining a slightly gelatinous texture. Put another minute or two into the baking time of your cake.
  9. Tend to the cake for twenty to thirty minutes while it cools in the pan, and then flip it out.
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