After a silly turn of events and a third annual holiday party, it’s been determined that THIS is the winning rum cake.

Two years ago, I was 8 months pregnant when I first attended a friend’s holiday party. It is an annual gathering that includes a competitive white gift exchange and plenty of festive cocktails. Though I stayed tucked in the corner with my big belly for most of the evening, it was a memorably fun evening.

Last year, we were invited to return. I declared that I would make up for the previous year and drink my share of cocktails and whoop it up with the crowd. The hostess asked me to bring the same rum, bundt cake that I had made the previous year. She recounted that after many of the guests had left, she and her houseguests dug into that cake and devoured it before dawn.

This is where the story gets a little hard to understand, unless perhaps you have been pregnant or live such an overly busy life that details fall through the cracks. I had no memory of making the rum cake BUT I did not doubt that I had made the delicious cake in question. So, I searched my recipes and surfed the web for the recipe to see if something rang a bell.

I never landed on any cake that felt familiar but decided to make a rum cake from scratch that looked good and had decent reviews. When I showed up with the cake last year, I admitted to not remembering what I had brought the year before. When we sampled my offering, it was okay but not quite as moist as I like. Luckily, our analysis was in progress when another friend approached. “Did you use the box cake and pudding recipe? Oh, I always do,” she admitted. “That’s the one that I brought last year.” Case: solved!

This year, the original baker of the boxed cake mix based rum cake couldn’t attend the festivities. A quick online searched surfaced many versions of this simple recipe. So again, I brought a rum cake and this time, it was the RIGHT rum cake. Indeed, it is delicious and super simple. Unless you are averse to using boxed mixes, don’t even fool around with another recipe. I did and though it took two years to solve the mystery, we have all agreed that THIS is the crowd pleaser. Case: Closed.

Golden Rum Cake

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil and 1/2 cup rum. Blend well. Pour batter over chopped nuts in the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto serving plate. Brush glaze over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze and repeat until all glaze is used.

To make the glaze: in a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.