Coconut Rum Cake

A special rum cake baked with equal parts coconut, sugar, and flour, and lots of rum. Imagine a toasted coconut macaroon in cake form and you've got the idea.

Coconut Rum Cake

My love for rum cakes runs deep. If yours does too, this is the cake for you. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but this beauty is basically a toasted coconut macaroon in cake form - doused in rum. It has a strip of freeze-dried raspberries baked in, but if you prefer pineapple, that swap is also really great. Sometimes I skip the fruit all together & let the rum really take center stage. A dusting of powdered sugar before serving makes it pretty.
Super Moist Coconut Rum Cake

Fruit or No fruit? What Kind?

You can see the strip of fruit (raspberries) in the rum cake in the photos above and below here. I've been using freeze-dried fruit a lot in my baking lately because it has incredibly intensity, color, and none of the moisture that goes along with fresh or frozen fruit. It works particularly well in cookies, cakes, quick breads, crusts, etc. Not as great for fruity fillings, although you could use it as a boost or accent as a percentage of the overall filling.
Slice of Coconut Rum Cake on Plate

Rum Cake Add-Ins

Aside from the raspberries, the recipe below is quite straightforward, a great coconut rum cake canvas. From there you can take in in oh-so-many directions. Sometimes I add spices - a bit of Vietnamese cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg is alway welcome. Grated makrut lime is amazing if you use freeze-dried pineapple in place of the raspberries. To be honest, you can’t really go wrong adding citrus zest in general - lime, lemon, Meyer lemon, orange - or a blend. All good. Last idea - how about a Dark 'N' Stormy rum cake? You could add dried ginger, candied ginger, and/or grated ginger. Along with the coconut? Yes please.
Cake Sliced on Marble Counter

What Type of Rum Makes the Best Rum Cake?

Like most other recipes that call for alcohol in them, use wine (or in this case rum), choose something you drink anyway. It should taste delicious. On the rum front for this recipe there is a range of rums to choose from. I like a good-quality dark or spiced rum for this cake - the more flavor the better. 

Ingredients for Coconut Rum Cake Recipe

Transferring the Cake Batter into the Pan

I just want to call out the way I build this cake. I fill the baking pan two-thirds full with cake batter, and then sprinkle with the raspberries. After that I use a fork to poke and work the berries down into the batter just a bit. Lastly, top with the remaining batter (see below), and give the whole pan a couple good thwaps on your counter. This gives you a nice, condensed stripe of berries along the base of the finished rum cake. You could, of course, fold the raspberries into the batter along with the rest of the flour mixture, so they're more evenly dispersed, but I like this version best.
Layering Cake Batter with Raspberries

How to Apply the Rum Syrup

This cake itself isn't huge, but it can take on a good amount of rum. You can see my set up in the photo below. That is the cake hot out of the oven, just turned out of the pan. It is on a cooking rack arranged over a rimmed baking sheet. The rim on on the baking sheet keeps any run-away rum in the pan and off the counter. Be sure to brush the rum syrup all over the tops, sides, and inside the center of the cake.

Coconut Rum Cake Cooling After Baking on a Rack

Turning Cake into Rum Cake

There are other ways to get the rum syrup into the cake as well. You can pour half of it over the cake while it is still warm and in the pan. Turn the cake out after that and finish by topping it with the remaining rum. I like this approach in theory, and you'll see it used in alot of other recipes, but the syrup tends to break down the crumb of the cake a bit, and you're more likely to have trouble getting the cake out of the pan. I play it safe, and glaze after the turnout.
Rum Cake Dusted with Powdered Sugar
The finished rum cake dusted with lots of powdered sugar just before serving.

Cross-section Photo of Cake
Here's a close-up of a cross-section of the cake...
Fork and Slice of Cake

What type of Coconut?

One last thing, you really want to get the coconut right here. The key is unsweetened, dried coconut. And it’s important that it is finely grated. I see a lot of big-flake coconut in the stores now, and I love it, but it’s not right for this cake. If you want to get that nice, moist crumb you see in the pics, get the finely grated - I usually grab the Bob's Red Mill brand for this cake if I see it in the store.
Coconut Rum Cake in Kitchen
I hope you really enjoy this rum cake! It's incredibly moist, tasty, and versatile. Aside from this cake I've been doing a lot of baking lately, both sweet and savory. I call out a few recent favorites that you might also enjoy as well. There's this beautiful braided onion bread, this zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls forever, and this easy little bread made with rolled oats and whole wheat flours. These brownies are my absolute favorite, and everyone loves this Violet Bakery Chocolate Devils' Food Cake. Happy baking! -h

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Coconut Rum Cake

3.87 from 23 votes

The cake bakes right to the edge (pictured above) of a 6-cup pan which can make some bakers a bit nervous. If that’s you, bump up to a 7-cup bundt pan. I’ve also had success using a 1-lb loaf pan (8.5-inch x 4-1/2-inch) for this cake, but you will need to bake the cake significantly longer for the middle to set.

Ingredients
Rum Syrup:
  • 1/3 cup / 65g sugar
  • 2/3 cup / 160ml rum
The Cake:
  • 9 tablespoons / 135g unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for the pan
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups / 140g finely grated unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups / 300g sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups / 190g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon / 4g baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 3g fine grain sea salt
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml buttermilk
  • 1- ounce / 28g freeze-dried raspberries, crushed a bit
  • Powered sugar, for serving
Instructions
Make the Rum Syrup:
  1. Combine the 1/3 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, stir in the rum and allow to cool to room temperature while you work on the rest of the cake.

Make the Rum Cake:
  1. If you haven’t already done so, allow your butter and eggs to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350F with a rack in the center.
  2. Prepare the pan. Butter and flour (or coconut flake) a 6-cup bundt pan (see the head notes for alternate pan size ideas). Set prepared pan aside.

  3. Combine the coconut and a big spoonful of the sugar in a food processor (or blender). Pulse until the coconut breaks down into tiny dry flecks. Stop short of the coconut breaking down into any sort of paste. You’re after a coarse coconut meal texture. Whisk this coconut mixture in a medium bowl along with the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Make the batter. Using a mixer (or by hand), beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continue to mix until uniform. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times along the way. Gradually add the buttermilk, mixing until it is just incorporated. Fold in the flour mixture, mixing just until the batter is uniform. Transfer 2/3 of the batter immediately to the pan, sprinkle with the raspberries, and then use a fork to press the berries into the batter a bit, you want to make sure they are pushed into the batter, so you don’t end up with any dry pockets. Cover the berries with the remaining cake batter, and rap on the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester to the center comes out clean. If you’re baking in a loaf pan, this can take quite a bit more time. When done baking, remove from the oven, wait five minutes, and turn out onto a cake rack arranged over a rimmed baking sheet. Brush, with the cake right side up, all over with the rum syrup. I usually do this in two batches, letting the cake absorb the first half of the syrup first. Wait ten minutes, then apply the rest of the syrup.
  6. Serve dusted generously with powdered sugar.
  7. This cake stores beautifully, wrapped and refrigerated, for days. Bring back to room temperature to serve, redusting with more powdered sugar if needed.
Notes

Serves 12.

Serves
12
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
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Comments

I’m going to make this but need to know what “turn the cake out” means - is that when you turn it over?

Shirley C

    Hi Shirley, turn the cake out of the pan. Hope this helps!

I made the cake this weekend and it was an enormous hit! What a beautiful and simple recipe. This cake will definitely become a favorite.

Joan

Thanks for the great recipe - it turned out really well. I used Kraken spicy rum - I’m curious if you have a favorite?

Kirsten

Can't wait to make this. Would a sugar substitute work ie coconut palm sugar for the cake (not the syrup)? Jane

Jane

    Hi Jane - you could give it a try. Mybe give it a spin in the food processor to make it finer? Let me know if you try it!

I only have dark rum in the liquor cabinet. Would that work?

Cheryl

I want to try this, but can only find shredded coconut - should I pulse it a little in the food processor?

Kirsten

    Hi Kirsten - sounds like you have what you need. So yes, just follow the instructions re: the food processor. Enjoy!

What a gorgeous looking cake, can't wait to make this. I am a huge of fan of ginger in any form; the addition of dried ginger, candied ginger, and/or grated ginger sounds fantastic with the coconut Could you please advise on quantities for each respective ginger addition. Thank you. Karen

karen

    I think I'd start with a tablespoon of dried, 1/2 cup or so of the candied/crystallized, 2 - 3 tablespoons grated? Something along those line with give you some real ginger oomph!

Sounds good! I am going to try this instead of my usual go to rum cake. The only thing, shouldn't the rum syrup have butter?

Jan

    Hi Jan - I just do a straight rum + simple syrup here - no added butter to the syrup.

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