Cuneo's Famous Rum Cake

Category:   Cakes - Cooking Nostalgia
Cuneo's Bakery operated on Austin's Guadalupe Street until the 1960's, back when Austin was mainly a college town combined with the seat of state government. Ray Kennedy was the production manager at Cuneo's for many years, who later went on to work another 25 years at Mrs. Johnson's Bakery. His children kept Cuneo's most famous memory, their rum cake recipe. It was published in the American Statesman years later, and we made it. There truly is something magic about the butter-rum syrup.

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

For the Butter-Rum Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Trace and cut out a paper liner for the bottom of the tube cake pan. Place in the bottom round and grease again over the paper.
  3. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and shortening. Slowly (one or two at a time) add the eggs, beating between additions. Beat for three minutes. When batter is fluffy, add the extracts. Add the dry ingredients to the batter at low speed of the mixer in two batches, alternating with the milk.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared tube pan and bake for 1-1/2 hours (90 minutes). Test for doneness by poking a toothpick into the center of the cake. When the toothpick comes out clean and crumb-free, the cake is done. (Be sure to bake this for a full 1-1/2 hours at 325°F. The cake forms a crust as you bake it, so touching the top won't indicate doneness.) Remove cake from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. While cake is resting, make the butter-rum syrup. Stirring constantly, mix sugar, water, butter and salt in a small saucepan and heat until syrup begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. Stir in the rum extract.
  7. Using a sharp knife, loosen cake from sides of the pan. Invert the pan onto a foil-covered plate and remove pan center, using a sharp knife as needed to separate pan center from what is now the top of the cake. Remove paper from top of cake. Brush or pour syrup all over cake. It will soak in to the cake. Remove the cake to a clean platter and serve.
  8. Cake keeps well wrapped in foil.
  9. Makes one 10-inch cake.
  10. To finish, dust with confectioners' sugar, or spoon strawberry glaze over a slice.

Note: If you wish to use real rum in the glaze, Monica Kass Rogers explains: here is the correct ratio - 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum. Melt the butter in saucepan, stir in the water and sugar. Heat to boiling and boil five minutes (whisk constantly) Remove from heat and stir in rum. You can increase the amounts (i.e. double the recipe).

Ready in: 2 hours 30 minutes

Adapted from a recipe by Ray Kennedy. Recipe editor