Does Rum Cake Have Alcohol? (How Much Left After Baking)

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Rum cakes are a traditional dessert and extremely popular, especially during the holiday season during parties or given as gifts.

A typical rum cake recipe includes flour, baking soda, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and most importantly, rum. It is made by a variety of home bakers, with some dating back to the 1970s. Considering it is called rum cake, does it actually have alcohol in it even after baking?

Well, yes, it does. Rum cakes actually contain rum and therefore contain alcohol. Through the baking process, most but not all of the alcohol will evaporate. Rum cakes typically contain under 0.5% of alcohol content, although some well-known brands or baked-to-order rum cakes can contain up to 5% of alcohol grains.

Rum cakes are traditionally prepared with dried fruits, rum, and sugar in most countries like the Caribbean. Dried fruits are often soaked in alcohol for months, while other countries may use rum as a glaze finish. In some recipes for baking rum cake at home, there can be up to a cup of rum used in total for the actual cake and the glaze.

This results in the delectable dessert that is loved worldwide but should be kept away from children due to its alcoholic nature. Keep reading to learn more about rum cake.

Table of Contents

Alcohol in rum cakes: Does alcohol preserve the cake?

Many people believe that the rum is used to preserve the cake, but is this true? Technically, this is only half true. While the alcohol can help preserve the rum cake for longer shelf life, the actual reason is to provide the cake with more moisture and make it more flavorful.

Because making rum cakes is a tedious process, the alcohol used in making the rum cake helps retain the moisture while helping the cake fight off mold. Some rum cakes can take up to 3 months or more to make, with older cakes containing more alcohol in them.

But rum isn’t the only alcohol that is commonly used for these cakes. Some home bakers may swap rum for liquor like brandy and whisky, depending on the flavor you prefer. This is also why cakes with no alcohol typically have a shorter life span, as it may dry out and cannot be preserved the way rum cake does.

Can you get drunk from alcohol in the cake?

Now that you’re aware of the alcohol in rum cake, you may be wondering if having rum cake can get you drunk? The simple answer is yes, you can, but you may have to consume excessive amounts of cake before you feel the alcohol.

Rum cakes typically contain under 0.5% of alcohol content, although some well-known brands or baked-to-order rum cakes can contain up to 5% of alcohol grains. When consumed excessively, you can get drunk as the alcohol begins to add up within your body. Of course, this is all based on your tolerance for alcohol.

That said, you generally won’t have to worry about getting drunk if you’ve only had a slice or two of the rum cake. The drunk feeling may only take place if you’ve finished an entire cake. If you’re allergic to alcohol, you should avoid rum cakes altogether, or ask if they have an alcohol-free variety.

Does alcohol burn off in rum cake?

Many people believe that alcohol in rum cakes should burn off, considering how the cakes are baked at high temperatures. This should allow the alcohol to evaporate.

Although this is technically true, only some alcohol has been known to burn off in a rum cake. As mentioned above, it is a tiny percentage. Rum cakes still contain a small amount of alcohol within the cake, allowing for a more delicious bake if that’s what the baker is looking for.

If you’re looking to help most of the alcohol burn off, you’ll have to cook the sauce or bake the cake in high heat for longer periods. The best way to do this is by preparing the sauce on high heat at approximately 172 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the sauce at a boil for about 20 to 30 seconds should have most of the alcohol burned off, but not all.

You can also just reduce the amount of rum used overall in the recipe if you’re making it at home.

Storing your rum cakes: Should rum cakes be refrigerated?

As the alcohol in rum cakes can naturally preserve the cakes, you may wonder whether you should refrigerate your rum cakes. Generally, it would be best if you kept it refrigerated to avoid losing moisture in your cake. Storing it in an airtight container before putting it in the fridge is the best way to keep the flavors of your rum cakes locked in and well preserved.

However, if you wish to keep the rum cake for up to 2 months, it should ideally be frozen to ensure it stays fresh and moist. Some home bakers have also advised keeping your rum cakes in airtight containers before popping the cake in the freezer to avoid freezer burn.

How long can rum cakes sit out?

If you’d prefer to skip storing your cakes in the fridge or freezer, then you may have to finish your rum cakes as soon as possible. While the alcohol in your cake should help to preserve your cake and avoid it from turning bad so soon, your cakes could become dry after prolonged exposure outside.

Rum cakes can generally sit out for 4 days before they must be refrigerated for safer storage. To properly store a rum cake at room temperature, you should place it in an airtight container to retain its moisture and flavor. This is also to keep your cakes away from dust, insects, or if you have pets at home – fur.

Which rum is best for rum cake?

There are many different recipes out there if you want to make your own rum cake. And there are plenty of different rums to choose from if you want to bake it yourself. But the best for rum cake are dark rums.

Dark rums are different than light or white rums. The process for making dark rum begins very similar to white rum, both of which are made from sugarcane molasses and sugarcane juice. 

However, the primary difference between these two rums is that dark rum is not immediately filtered and bottled after distillation. Instead, dark rum is aged in oak barrels for several years before entering the final filtering process. Coloring and flavor may be added in the form of caramel, burnt sugars, or molasses.

Recommended reading: What is the Difference Between Dark Rum and White Rum?

Some well-known dark rums brands include Bacardi Rum Black, Captain Morgan Spiced Gold, and Captain Morgan Dark Rum. Even Costco makes their own rum, known as Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum.

The one you end up choosing will depend on your tastebuds. Find a rum you’d drink straight or in mixed cocktails, and use that in your rum cake.

Bonus Tip: Don’t buy an expensive rum for your cake. You’ll end up wasting money. It is best to go with a cheaper rum since much of it will blend in with the cake flavors.

Although rum cakes are straight-forward to make at home, the overall process can be tedious and time-consuming. Hence, many rum cake lovers often opt to purchase rum cakes instead of baking them. Here are some of the most popular brands of rum cakes you can try.

Tortuga Rum Cakes from the Caribbean is a top seller from the Cayman Islands, with many tourists making the trip to get their hands on a box or two for their family and friends. Tortuga has been making rum cakes since 1984 and uses a secret family recipe to ensure every rum cake baked is delicious.

The Bahamas Rum Cake Factory is another top seller in rum cakes, featuring unique flavors like the original rum cake, chocolate rum cakes, and pina colada rum cakes, to name a few. Opened in 2000, The Bahamas Rum Cake Factory remains a crowd favorite rum cake spot with their cakes lovingly baked using the Ole Nassau Bahamian Rum.

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Final Round

Rum cakes are a delicious dessert typically served during the holidays, like Christmas. While it does contain alcohol, it usually is in just small amounts. Think about reducing the rum amount to lower the overall alcohol content.

If you’re into baking, try different rum brands to get different flavor profiles. Don’t forget to refrigerate or freeze your rum cake if you can’t eat it all at once.

The best types of rum to use are dark rums. There are many different options out there, but it is best to use inexpensive rums. Save the good rum for sipping neat or mixing it in with cocktails.

If you want to skip the baking, there are plenty of rum cakes you can buy already made, like from Tortuga Rum Cakes and Bahamas Rum Cake Factory. All you need to do is eat it!