As always, I love friends' birthdays because I have the chance to make a homemade cake! It was one of my Italian friend's birthday, and we decided to build on the epic pasta making party by making homemade ravioli (which was amazing, by the way!). I thought I'd try to stick to the Italian dinner theme with his birthday cake, so I started doing a little research. When I googled "traditional Italian birthday cake," the first two results were for a rum cake- my favorite cake my grandmother on my mom's side makes! She makes hers with a boxed yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding, and though it is absolutely amazing, I decided it'd be more fun to make a homemade cake. I had my reservations going in since I hadn't tried making it from scratch before, but it was easy and absolutely delicious!

rum cake

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup sugar (divided into 1 1/2 and 1/4 cups)
10 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup rum
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites

rum butter sauce

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup rum

Grease a bundt pan, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar, and tap and turn to coat completely. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, rum, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks until combined. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment attached, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy (about 45-60 seconds). Keeping the whisk running, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar for another 60-90 seconds until stiff peaks form. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture until just combined, then fold in the egg whites. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, make the rum butter sauce by melting the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and then whisking together the melted butter, water and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Let boil, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat, and very gradually stir in the rum. Be careful here because the rum may cause the sauce to boil up again! Once the cake is cool, poke many holes all over the surface before pouring half of the rum butter sauce evenly over the cake. Let the cake rest for 5-10 minutes so the sauce can absorb a bit before inverting onto a serving platter. Then drizzle the remaining sauce evenly over the cake and serve!