Rum & Coconut Cake with Toasted Coconut Flakes


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in



By Lorraine Pascale

Published 2017

  • About

The first time I enjoyed this pairing of flavours, it was not in the form of a cake! In my early 20s, I enjoyed the tipple of a Malibu and cola: the perfect mix of coconut, rum and sugar. This cake refines the famous flavour combination. If you wish, you can omit the splash of rum in the sugar syrup. This cake is super-super sweet.


  • 250 g large coconut flakes, to cover
  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 50 g crème fraiche
  • 300 g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 6 eggs

For the syrup

  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 2–3 tbsp dark rum (optional)

For the buttercream frosting

  • 350 g butter, softened
  • 700 g icing sugar (sifted if lumpy)


  • 3 x 20cm round cake tins
  • stand mixer or hand-held electric whisk


Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/400°F/gas 6) and line the base of the tins with baking parchment.

To toast the coconut covering, place the coconut flakes onto a baking tray and place into the oven for 2–3 minutes, or until the coconut flakes are going golden brown. Then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the sponge, cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. You can do this in a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric whisk. You can also do this by hand, but it does take time and lots of elbow grease! You want the mixture to be light and fluffy and to turn pale in colour.

Once the butter and the sugar are creamed, add the crème fraiche and stir together to just combine. Add about half of the flour along with the baking powder and three eggs and beat everything together until it is just combined. Then add the other three eggs and flour and mix, again until just combined.

Using a spatula, divide the cake mixture between the lined tins and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean, and the sponges have shrunk slightly from the edges of the tin.

About 10 minutes before the cakes are cooked, make the syrup. Put the caster sugar, water and rum into a small pan over a low heat. Cook gently until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat and let it bubble for 20 seconds or so, then take it off the heat.

Once the cakes are cooked, remove them from the oven and brush with the rum syrup. This will make the cakes more moist and also gives them extra flavour. The added bonus is that the cakes will keep for a little longer too. Once you have brushed the cakes with the rum syrup, then leave them to cool completely in the tins.

While the cakes are cooling in the tins, make the buttercream frosting. Put the butter into a bowl and add a little of the icing sugar and beat well to combine. Keep doing this, adding a little bit of icing sugar as you go so that the icing sugar does not fly everywhere. Alternatively you can put all the buttercream ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and then cover the machine with a tea towel and beat it like mad, keeping the tea towel over the machine, but being careful not to let the towel get stuck in any moving parts. I like a very light buttercream frosting for this cake, so I always beat it for quite some time until it is extremely light and fluffy, which also makes it much easier to spread.

Smear a little of the frosting on your cake stand or plate – just a splodge to secure the first sponge. Put one of the cake layers on top, and using a palette knife, spread some more of the buttercream frosting all over the top. Repeat this twice more so you have a three-layer cake. Be careful not to press the layers down much as you are building the cake as this can make the cake bulge in places.

Spread the rest of the buttercream frosting all over the sides. It does not have to be super smooth as you are going to put the toasted coconut flakes on it. You can make the buttercream as thick or as thin as you fancy, but if you are doing it on the thin side, just remember that you need enough buttercream to stick the flakes on.

Take a handful of the toasted coconut flakes and press them onto the side of the cake – some will fall down but that is okay. Keep pressing the flakes all over the sides of the cake and all over the top of the cake until the whole of the cake is covered. Serve.