Cumberland Rum Butter
For Christmas and Christenings

Cumberland rum butter is a real Christmas treat: there’s nothing like watching a spoonful slide and melt over your Christmas pudding or slipping a sliver or two under a mince pie lid.

Whilst the most well-known ‘hard sauce’, brandy butter, is a fairly light affair and can be whipped up from brandy, butter and icing sugar, Cumberland rum butter is much more complex, and full of potent festive flavours: dark brown Muscovado sugar, Caribbean rum and plenty of spice in the form of nutmeg.

Rum butter was once fed to expectant and nursing mothers in the Lake District, to ‘keep their strength up’ and was a vital part of Cumberland Christenings and visits to new babies and continues in some families today. Usually eaten spread on oatcakes, coins were left in the empty butter bowl.

Plenty of coins sticking to the sides and bottom of the bowl predicted wealth and good fortune would ‘stick’ to the child as it grew. Obviously, it behoved guests not to scrape the bowl too clean, but to leave it fairly sticky in the baby’s best interests!

Families often kept a special bowl for serving rum butter and many beautiful butter bowls have been passed down through the generations. As the saying goes: Butter for goodness, rum for spirit, sugar for sweetness and nutmeg for spice.

Enough for a 425g (15oz) jar

  • 175g Muscovado sugar
  • 100ml dark Caribbean rum
  • 150g salted butter, slightly softened
  • Up to ½ nutmeg

For best results, steep the sugar in the rum overnight. The next day, heat gently, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved: avoid boiling. Cool.

Beat the butter until creamy and gradually work in the rum and sugar mixture. Grate in a lavish amount of nutmeg and stir thoroughly. Pack into a sealed sterilised jar.


Tightly covered, this keeps brilliantly in the fridge or a cool larder, for months and is absolutely beyond delicious spread on toasted crumpets: no need to butter first with normal butter obviously! It’s also wonderful on pancakes. Or toast. Or tea cakes, scones, gingernuts, digestive biscuits, rice pudding, your weekend porridge, baked apples . . . .