Caribbean Rum Cake has a soft, tender crumb, delightful rummy flavor, and billowy coconut cream topping. It’s a slice of paradise!
Hi friends, – it’s been a while! I took an unintentional break from blogging and social media for most of July and half of August. It wasn’t a vacation- quite the opposite! It’s a busy time of year, where content creators are hard at work collaborating with brands for holiday content. I cannot wait to share all the things I’ve cooked up, baked up, and styled for spooky season, Thanksgiving, and beyond!
In the meantime, summer is still very present. This recipe fits right into this in-between time. It offers tropical flavors to help prolong the magic of summer. But, Caribbean Rum Cake is also a staple for the holiday season. You can find these cakes lining the shelves gourmet and specialty shops during November and December, because they are often gifted at Christmastime.
Historians suggest that the roots of rum cake can be traced back to the 18th century when British colonists established themselves on the islands. These settlers brought along a tradition of rum-soaked steamed Christmas puddings, which is believed to have laid the foundation for the rum cakes we know today. This, along with the fact that rum and sugar are great preservers, could be why it’s so popular at Christmas. (However, I’m game for a slice year-round!)
First, we should talk about reverse creaming. Cake recipes usually begin with creaming butter and sugar together in a stand mixer. Not this one. For this technique, you beat the fat (in this case oil and butter) directly into all the dry ingredients until a dry, crumbly mixture is formed. Next, you beat in the liquid ingredients and magically, the sandy-cornmeal-y stuff turns into a thick, cohesive batter.
Why use this method? Cakes have a more velvety texture with reverse creaming, and they don’t rise quite as much during baking. This means you won’t have to level the cake before plating it.
Pudding in the mix.
This batter has instant pudding added to the dry ingredients. Don’t be tempted to skip this ingredient. I almost did due to lots of box mixes on the market using ‘pudding in the mix’ as a marketing ploy. It truly makes a huge difference in the softness and moistness of this cake. Texturally, it’s one of the best bundt cake recipes I’ve ever made.
Here’s the good stuff. It’s pretty much the standard for rum syrups, except I swapped in brown sugar for half of the white sugar in the recipe. This tastes really great along with the golden rum I used in the recipe. Speaking of rum! You can use plain rum, coconut rum, golden rum – but for the holidays spiced rum is where it’s at!
Begin a day ahead.
After the syrup is cooked, poke holes in the cake. Then gradually pour the syrup over it. Lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap. Then let it stand overnight to infuse.
Toppings are optional.
Whip up some easy coconut flavored whipped cream for a summer-appropriate topping. This cake is delicious both cold and at room temperature. I added some shaved coconut, which makes it look extra tropical and it adds another layer of texture. You can find the dried coconut chips with edible brown rind that I used right here.
If you plan to serve or give this for the holidays, it needs no topping. However, a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar for holiday spice and crunch is nice and the cake still travels well.
I’m so happy I made this cake, after years of it being on my (lengthy) baking bucket list. It’s a great recipe that I adapted from the trustworthy King Arthur Baking website – totally holiday worthy, and it’s not shy with the booze. However, if you’re avoiding alcohol but would still like to make this rum cake, see the recipe notes for a no-alcohol version made with rum extract.
Related recipe: Spiced Rum Cake Trifles
Caribbean Rum Cake
- bundt pan 10-12 cup
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3.4 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix 1 box
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine grain salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup vegetable oil I like grapeseed oil
- ½ cup whole milk at room temperature
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup rum I like golden rum
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Rum soaking syrup
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain salt
- ½ cup rum
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Coconut whipped cream
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- ½ cup dried coconut shavings for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the four, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Add the butter and oil. Mix until thoroughly combined and the mixture has a sandy cornmeal appearance.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the milk, then the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again. Add the rum and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
- Spray a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour). Pour the batter into the pan and even the top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave the cake in the pan while you make the rum syrup.
Rum soaking syrup
- Place the butter, water, sugars, salt, and rum in a saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove top. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 8 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Poke many holes in the top of the cake using a skewer. Gradually pour over the syrup a little at a time, pausing to allow the syrup to soak into the cake before adding more. When the all of the syrup is used, lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and allow it to stand overnight.
- Turn the cake out onto a serving plate.
Coconut whipped cream
- Place the heavy cream in a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat until the mixture thickens slightly, then gradually add in the granulated sugar. Beat until thick and fluffy. Add the coconut extract and mix briefly. Top the rum cake with a crown of the billowy coconut whipped cream. Arrange dried coconut shavings on top.
- Loosely wrapped, the whipped cream-topped cake will store in the refrigerator for several days. Without whipped cream, tightly wrapped, it will keep for several days at room temperature.