Food & Drinkrecipes

A Rum-Soaked Pound Cake That Tastes Like Home + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

I have fond memories of being allowed to have a Bourbon Ball or two at Christmastime when I was little. I attribute that experience to my current fondness for cakes and desserts that incorporate alcohol, and I never turn down a chance to taste a bourbon or rum cake. In Coconuts & Collards, writer and radio producer, Von Diaz, shares a collection of stories and recipes from her beloved Puerto Rican kitchen. The cookbook includes not only Puerto Rican recipes, but also recipes influenced by having moved to Atlanta as a young girl. Von’s recipes for her mother’s Bizcocho de Ron (Rum Cake) and her own adaptation demonstrate how her family adapted from their move to the US, and how Von’s own cooking skills grew. Make them both and tell us which you prefer! —Kristina

Why Von loves this recipe: When I adapted my Mami’s traditional rum cake recipe for Coconuts & Collards, I hoped to perfect her version (made with box mix) and produce a denser cake with less sugar. I took inspiration from classic Southern yellow cake recipes and adjusted the rum glaze, but ultimately I discovered that I liked them both. Equally. Today I exclusively make Mami’s recipe, because it comes out perfect every time and makes me think of her.

To win a copy of Coconuts & Collards, respond in the comments section below by May 9, 5PM EST to the following question: What food reminds you most of home? Do you use a recipe to make it for yourself at home, or do you just order it whenever you see it on a menu and you’re feeling homesick? The winner will be announced in the comments section of this post, so be sure to check back!

About Von: Von Diaz, author of Coconuts & Collards, is a writer and radio producer based in New York City. She is a self-taught cook who explores Puerto Rican food, culture, and identity through memoir and multimedia. Her work has been featured on NPR, American Public Media, StoryCorps, WNYC, PRI’s The World, BuzzFeed, The Splendid Table, The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy Podcast and Quarterly, Colorlines, and Feet in 2 Worlds. Find Von on Instagram @cocinacriolla, Twitter @vondiaz and Facebook @vondiazauthor.

{Photography by Cybelle Codish}

Image above: Von Diaz

Image above: Bizcocho de Ron

Image above: A well-loved notebook

Mami’s Bizcocho de Ron (Mami’s Rum Cake)

When my friends found out I was writing this cookbook, several asked if Mami’s rum cake would be in it. And so it is. First I give you her original recipe, which uses a boxed cake mix. I highly recommend this recipe if you need to make something quickly and easily or aren’t very comfortable baking. It’s perfectly balanced and is my favorite cake to this day. But in homage to Mami, I’ve adapted her recipe to give it a little more depth, and that version follows. (In case you were wondering, my family calls me Bombi.)

Special thanks to chef, friend, and mentor Kathy Gunst for her help adapting this recipe.

Serves 6 to 10


  • Mami's Cake Recipe
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 box butter-flavor cake mix
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • Unsalted butter
  • Eggs
1/4 cup white rum
  • Mami's Rum Syrup
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Bombi’s Cake Recipe
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup white rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Bombi's Rum Syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white rum

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



To make Mami’s cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a Bundt pan with cooking spray and sprinkle in the walnuts.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, combine the cake mix and pudding mix, then add the butter and eggs as directed by the instructions on the cake mix box. Add the rum. Beat at medium speed for 4 minutes.


Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and level it with a spatula.

Bake for 33 to 35 minutes, until the cake is pale golden in color, slightly risen, and a toothpick or cake skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of the cake. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.


Meanwhile, make Mami’s glaze:

Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sugar is fully dissolved and the glaze thickens just slightly.



While the cake is still warm, poke holes throughout the cake using the same toothpick or skewer you used to test the cake for doneness. Pour the hot glaze on top; don’t worry if the cake doesn’t take in the glaze immediately. It takes at least 10 minutes for the glaze to be absorbed.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and allow to soak for at least 3 hours or overnight. Invert onto a plate, then slice and serve.


To make Bombi’s cake:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a Bundt pan with cooking spray and sprinkle in the walnuts.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a large bowl using an electric handheld mixer, combine the flour, sugar, pudding mix, butter, baking powder, and salt. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until fully incorporated.


Add the milk, eggs, and coconut oil and blend on low speed for about 2 more minutes, until smooth. Pour in the rum and vanilla and blend on low speed for about 1 more minute to form a thick batter.


Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and level it with a spatula. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the cake is pale golden in color, slightly risen, and a toothpick or cake skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of the cake. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.


Meanwhile, make Bombi’s rum glaze:

Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sugar is fully dissolved and the glaze is just slightly thickened.



While the cake is still warm, poke holes throughout the cake using the same toothpick or skewer you used to test the cake for doneness. Pour the hot glaze on top. Don’t worry if the cake doesn’t take in the glaze immediately; it takes at least 10 minutes for the glaze to be absorbed.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and allow to soak for at least 3 hours or overnight. Invert onto a plate, slice, and serve.

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