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Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake

May 21, 2024
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

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Treat yourself to our Coconut Rum Cake! Moist, coconutty, with a hint of rum, it's bursting with Caribbean flavor—the ultimate indulgence!

Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake

Indulge in a slice of paradise with our Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake recipe! This dessert is like a vacation in every bite, packed with the tropical flavors of coconut + a hint of rum. With its moist texture and creamy coconut rum frosting, it's the perfect treat for any occasion. Gluten-free option.

Up close shot of coconut rum cake on a plate with a fork.

If you're reading this, chances are you share my love for all things coconut. From baking coconut bread to mixing up coconut mocktails, I've done it all and then some. But today, I'm absolutely thrilled to spill the beans on one of my favorite treats, inspired by my Caribbean roots— the Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake.

This cake is a coconut lover's dream—it's moist and packed with tropical flavor, with just a hint of rum. I used rum extract, but you can go all out with the real deal if you fancy. And let's talk about that creamy coconut custard filling—it's heavenly with every bite. And to top it off, there's a coconut rum frosting that takes it to the next level. Oh, and I've got a gluten-free option too so everyone can join in on the deliciousness!

If you're looking for more ways to enjoy your coconut stash, I've got just the recipes for you! How about trying out some coconut rice or whipping up a batch of Coconut Raspberry Chia Pudding? And for a delightful treat, give my Coconut Cupcakes a whirl. Don't forget to make your own Homemade Coconut Milk for that extra touch of freshness.

Jump to:

Why You’ll Love This Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake

  • Super delish----major tropical coconut flavor with a hint of rum!
  • Incredibly soft, tender, and fluffy in texture!
  • Fun baking activity for the entire family.
  • Has a surprise creamy coconut custard filling!
  • A totally dreamy spring + summer dessert for any occasion
  • Most importantly... It's totally mouthwatering
Coconut flakes in a wood bowl.

How To Make Jamaican Coconut Rum Cake

Baking this delicious cake involves three simple components: the cake itself, the custard coconut rum filling, and the frosting! Don't worry, it's beginner-friendly and super easy. Here's everything you'll need:

Ingredients

CAKE:

  • All-purpose flour. You can also use cake flour or for a gluten-free option, 1-to-1 baking flour from Bob’s Red Mill works well.
  • Cane sugar. For sweetness!
  • Unsalted butter. Make sure your butter is softened before adding to the cake batter. You can place a hot bowl over the stick of butter to soften it in about 5 minutes.
  • Baking powder. For leavening.
  • Rum extract. I buy mine from Amazon. You can sub with ½ cup of actual rum; Wray & Nephew is the best!
  • Coconut extract. This adds an extra dose of tropical coconut flavor.
  • Pinch of sea salt. I love the play of salty and sweet here!
  • Eggs. At room temp.
  • Vegetable oil. You can also use coconut oil.
  • Dairy-free "buttermilk. Use your fave dairy-free milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (You can also use whole milk, if desired)

COCONUT CUSTARD [FILLING]:

  • Heavy whipping cream. Divided.
  • Cornstarch. This helps to form the classic custard consistency.
  • Unsalted butter. Make sure it's softened.
  • Cane sugar. For sweetness.
  • Shredded coconut. This adds a nice authentic coconutty touch.
  • Vanilla extract. Use pure vanilla extract for the best vanilla flavor. 

COCONUT RUM FROSTING:

  • Powdered sugar. Sifted.
  • Unsalted butter. Softened at room temp.
  • Rum extract. You'd need about 2 Tbsps of actual rum, if using.
  • Coconut extract. Optional (You can omit for less coconut flavor)
  • Coconut milk. This should be at room temperature. I recommend using full-fat.

SHOP MY FAVORITE BAKEWARE ITEMS AND ACCESSORIES!

Here, I’ve curated a list of bakeware essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baking treats, especially with this Jamaican Coconut Rum Cake recipe. Everything from my fave baking sheets, parchment paper, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Four slices of cake on plates with forks and coconut flakes.

Why Are The Ingredients At Room Temp?

When it comes to ingredients, especially in baking, it’s always best to have cold ingredients at room temperature to ensure that the mixing process is more seamless and even. Please note that microwaving your butter last minute if you forget to leave it out at room temperature isn’t recommended. Microwaving often changes the consistency of the butter which doesn’t create a nice ‘creaminess’ when mixed.

How To Make Buttermilk

In a bowl, whisk together the milk (regular milk or plant-based works fine) and add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the "buttermilk".

Four slices of cakes on a plates with a fork on a brown wood table.

Tips for Making The Best Cake Every Time

TIP #1: HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS

To make and decorate this Jamaican Coconut Cake, you'll need a hand-mixer, spatulas (big + small), piping bags + tips, correct baking pans and parchment paper.

TIP #2: COMBINE BAKING POWDER + ACID

The essential ingredient combos for a light, silky cake texture is baking powder with baking soda and an acid (usually vinegar or buttermilk if the cake calls for it). When acid and baking powder/baking soda reacts, it creates bubbles and helps to create a nice rise for your baked goods, leaving an airy texture.

TIP #3: SIFT!

One of my favorite tricks to a perfect cake has been to ensure that ALL of my dry ingredients are sifted. It's an extra step, but the results are a light, fluffy, and fully combined cake batter.

TIP #4: AVOID OVER-MIXING

When mixing your cake batter, it’s so important to add the dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternately. Then, as soon as everything is combined very well, STOP! Over-mixing creates a more dense cake

Three slices of cake on a plate on a brown wood table.

Perfect Occasions For A Slice Of Jamaican Coconut Rum Cake

These events are a great excuse to eat cake!

  • Sunday brunches
  • Barbecues
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Potlucks
  • Graduations
  • Baby Showers
  • Dinner Parties
  • Actually, any time is a good time for cake, right? Bake away for a little weekday pep-up!

Is Coconut a Fruit?

One of the biggest questions often asked is whether coconut is a fruit or a nut. While coconuts do indeed add a unique flavor and crisp texture to whatever you add it to, they are a fruit! Coconut is considered a fruit with a hard covering over the seed. Because of this, the FDA has classified the coconut as a nut, fruit, and seed because it fits the descriptions to all three--although it's really solely a fruit.

Why Didn't My Cake Come Out Of The Pan Clean?

This issue can occur for TWO reasons: the first being that you didn't allow the cake to cool enough before removing it. I always recommend letting it cool for at least 20-30 minutes before removing it and letting it cool completely on a cooling rack. Secondly, the issue could be that the pan wasn't greased well. I like to grease + add cake pan parchment paper to the bottom.

A cake slice being eaten with surrounding cake slices.

Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake Recipe Q + A's

How to store?

Keep leftover cake tightly wrapped using plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days. To store frozen (frosted or unfrosted), simply tightly wrap and cover cake and freeze for up to 2-3 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature.

How to make gluten-free coconut rum cake?

If you would love to make this cake gluten-free, then substituting all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour is the easiest option. It’s a special blend of gluten-free flours, starches, and xanthan gum, which makes these donuts just as soft, fluffy, and airy as the original! They also have a great All-purpose GF flour that works great as well.

Why Didn't My Cake Come Out Of The Pan Clean?

This issue can occur for TWO reasons: the first being that you didn't allow the cake to cool enough before removing it. I always recommend letting it cool for at least 20-30 minutes before removing it and letting it cool completely on a cooling rack. Secondly, the issue could be that the pan wasn't greased well. I like to grease + add cake pan parchment paper to the bottom

Can I make cupcakes instead of cake?

Yes definitely! This recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Simply bake for 18-20 minutes instead, until centers come out clean. You can also use the coconut custard as a filling for cupcakes by piping it in the centers.

How do I know when it's cooked through?

Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake; if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, the cake is ready. Avoid overbaking to maintain its moistness.

More Jamaican-Inspired Recipes To Try Next

Now that you're on a Jamaican flavor kick with this Coconut Rum Cake recipe, give these other Jamaican recipes that your entire family will love a try next:

Up close shot of cake slice in a plate.

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. And don't forget to tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea! I love hearing from you!

Up close shot of cake slice in a plate.

Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake

May 21, 2024
No ratings yet
Indulge in a slice of paradise with our Jamaican-inspired Coconut Rum Cake! This dessert is like a vacation in every bite, packed with the tropical flavors of coconut + a hint of rum. With its moist texture and creamy coconut rum frosting, it's the perfect treat for any occasion. Dairy-free + Gluten-free option.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 10 servings

Ingredients

CAKE:

  • 4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
  • 2 ½ tsps baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon rum extract (You can sub with ½ cup actual rum; Wray & Nephew is the best!)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4 large organic eggs, at room temp.
  • cup vegetable oil (You can also use coconut oil)
  • 1 ½ cups dairy-free "buttermilk: milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (You can also use whole milk, if desired)

COCONUT CUSTARD [FILLING]:

  • 1 ¼ cup organic heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 4 tsps cornstarch
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

COCONUT RUM FROSTING:

  • 5 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract (You'd need about 2 Tbsps of actual rum, if using)
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract, optional (You can omit for less coconut flavor)
  • 3-4 Tbsps coconut milk

TOPPING:

  • Coconut flakes, sweetened

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CAKE:

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (with butter) AND line with parchment paper the bottoms of TWO 8 or 9-inch cake pans (for thicker layers) or THREE 6-inch cake pans.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the milk and lemon juice and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the dairy-free "buttermilk".
  • In a large bowl, whisk together both the flours, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  • In a bowl, add the butter and sugar, beating them together using a hand-mixer (on high-speed), until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs (one at a time) followed by the rum + coconut extracts, and oil, mixing until combined. On low-speed, add in the dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk and continue to mix until combined and the batter is smooth, about 3-4 minutes. NOTE: The batter should be thick, yet slowly run off the whisk once lifted.
  • Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. NOTE: Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.

TO MAKE THE COCONUT CUSTARD:

  • In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the heavy whipping cream and cornstarch and whisk until thickened. Add additional heavy cream, if needed to get a liquid consistency.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the remaining 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream along with the sugar, and shredded coconut. Let everything get heated and stir occasionally just until the mixture is nearly boiling.
  • Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to heat over medium-high heat until the mixture is thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract last and set the mixture aside and let it cool completely.

MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  • Simply beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the powdered sugar, coconut extract, rum, and coconut milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency—-smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).

ASSEMBLY:

  • Place the first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with coconut custard and a handful of coconut flakes (if desired). Now, top with 2nd layer and add more coconut custard atop that layer. Lastly, top with final layer and add the buttercream frosting, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly. NOTE: you can also do a "crumb coat" with the buttercream, let the cake refrigerate for 1-2 hours and then add final layer of buttercream for a more cleaner look + feel.
  • Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the buttercream using a piping bag + tip around the sides and top of cake. Top with coconut flakes, as desired.
  • Slice and enjoy!
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
  • FLOUR: You can also use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour for a fluffier texture. 
  • COCONUT RUM CUPCAKES: This recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Simply bake for 18-20 minutes instead, until centers come out clean. You can also use the coconut custard as a filling for cupcakes by piping it in the centers.
  • DAIRY BUTTERMILK: Add 1 cup of organic heavy cream (or whole milk) + 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and let sit for 10 minutes, until it thickens.

Nutrition

Calories: 847kcal | Carbohydrates: 147g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 196mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 1527IU | Vitamin C: 0.04mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg

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Xx, Shanika in script writing

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