My dear friend Dana is a lover of wonderfully old country houses and is the loving steward of her own, The Dudley Pike Tavern in New Hampshire. Her former home, the stately 18th c. Major John Gile House (also in New Hampshire), is where this delicious holiday cake recipe originated.  This is one moist and flavorful cake. I love it.

Major John Gile Holiday Rum Cake

Cake Ingredients

1-¾ cups all-purpose flour

1-½ cups granulated white sugar

1 box instant vanilla pudding mix

½ cup crushed walnuts

½ cup unsalted butter

¼ cup cornstarch

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs

3 tablespoons + 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1-teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup whole milk

¾ cup dark rum

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 orange (sliced and baked in the oven for decoration on the top of the cake)


Rum Syrup

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup water

¾ cup granulated white sugar

1-teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup of rum. You can also use whiskey.



Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease and flour a Bundt pan, and sprinkle crushed walnuts into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In the base of a mixer, cream the 1 ½ cups granulated sugar and the ½ cup butter. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and kosher salt combining until evenly distributed. (Mixture will look like fine crumbs.) Stir in the pudding mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, vanilla extract, and remaining vegetable oil. Add to the dry mixture and mix until well incorporated. The batter will be smooth, thin, and will pour easily.

Pour into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

While the cake cools, prepare the rum syrup.

In a large saucepan with high sides, combine the butter, water, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the butter completely melts and the sugar dissolves. Let reduce slightly, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum (it will bubble).

Wash and dry the Bundt pan. Place baked orange slices on top of cooled cake and invert the cake back into the pan. Pour the hot rum syrup glaze all over the cake and let soak for 8 hours (overnight). In morning, invert the cake back onto a serving platter.

To store: Keep covered for 1 week at room temperature.