Recipe – Cuneo Rum Cake

The world is full of rum cakes, but in the history of Austin, one stands out: the Cuneo Rum Cake, named after Cuneo’s Bakery, which stood at 4225 Guadalupe Street for close to 36 years after its founding in 1925 by Mr. and Mrs. V.A. Cuneo. The picture shows it as it looked in 1956. Its rum cake, the creation of Cuneo’s production manager, Ray Kennedy, became an Austin favorite.

Ray learned his skills at the Fleishman School of Baking in the 1930s. After 11 years at Cuneo’s, he briefly opened a bakery in Cisco, Texas, where he spent part of his childhood, but ended up returning to Cuneo’s. He left again in the 1950s and worked for 25 years at Mrs. Johnson’s Bakery before retiring in 1978. He was a resident of the Hyde Park Annex and he served as a deacon of the Hyde Park Baptist Church for 57 years. He died in 2003 at the age of 89.

In 1977, Ray Kennedy shared the bulk version of his rum cake recipe in the Austin American-Statesman, saying, “They used to line up outside the bakery to buy those rum cakes, they were so good.” Thirty-four years later, in 2011, someone requested the recipe from Monica Kass Rogers, Chicago food writer and owner of the website Rogers reached out to Addie Broyles, food writer at the Austin American-Statesman, to track down Ray Kennedy’s children, James Kennedy and Rita Bruton, who still had the recipe.

Rogers scaled the recipe down to a single cake and posted it on her website. After she posted the recipe, readers added such comments as “We use to receive this rum cake each Christmas. … We lived in Houston and loved the rum cake every year.” and “Cuneo’s made my Wedding Cake fifty six years ago. I grew up in the area of Hyde Park surrounding the bakery. The donuts were delicious too!” In response to a request, Rogers adapted the syrup to include real rum instead of rum flavoring.

Yield: One tall, 10-inch, tube cake.



4 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
4 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
¾ cup butter
6 eggs
½ tsp each lemon and orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup water
1 oz corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp rum extract


1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup water
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp rum extract


  1. Generously grease a 10-inch angel-food tube pan. Trace and cut out a paper liner for the bottom round of the tube cake pan. Place in the bottom round and grease again over the paper.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the sugar, butter, and shortening together. Slowly add eggs, one or two at a time, beating between additions. Beat for three minutes. When the batter is fluffy, add the extracts.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the milk.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan and bake at 325 for 1 ½ hours. Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
  7. While the cake is resting, make the butter-rum syrup. Stirring constantly, mix the sugar, water, butter, and salt in a small saucepan and heat until the syrup begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. Mix in the rum extract.
  8. Using a sharp knife, loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the pan onto a foil-covered plate and remove the pan center, using a sharp knife as needed to separate the pan center from what is now the top of the cake. Remove the paper from the top of the cake. Brush or pour syrup all over the cake. (Give the cake a bath in the syrup.) Remove the cake to a clean platter and serve.

Monica Kass Rogers’ Syrup Adaptation Using Real Rum

1/2 C butter
1/4 C water
1 C sugar
½ C Bacardi dark rum

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the water and sugar. Heat to boiling and boil five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.