Introduction: Flambe Caribbean Rum Cake

What better way to pass a pandemic than with a little LatinX inspired Caribbean Rum Cake!?!

And why not flambe your rum cake (just to symbolize a world that seems on fire with the coronavirus anyway!)? Safely in a pan, of course! And, side benefit(?), fire sanitizes (165 degrees Fahrenheit is a universal temperature for destroying germs)!

This is what happens when a POC household - with Jamaican and LatinX influences - get stuck on lockdown for over a month, "working" remotely from their apartment.

Introducing the World's on Fire! Flambe, Corona-Free, Caribbean-Phoenix Rum Cake!!!! . . . . yes, we did the most!

The following recipe modifies a traditional (roommate approved) Caribbean Rum Cake with a little Latin flare, specifically, spiced-rum & pineapple (pina), cayenne-pepper-infused, flambeed bananas as a topper. Toasted coconut sprinkled on top provides a crunchy finish!

We made some health-and-dietary substitutions to the traditional cake base recipe because we wanted to share with gluten-free roommates. The substitutions turned out fabulously (as you can tell from the images). We have included both the original recipe provided by "auntie" and our modified version. You can make this vegan as well, and we have included the necessary substitutions for a totally vegan recipe also.

Prep time was short - an estimated 20 minutes, though we took a little longer than the traditional recipe predicted because we had to taste test the rum-pina-cayenne flambe marinade.

Cook time is approximately 55 minutes if you have the 10"-11" (12 cup) bundt pan called for in the traditional recipe.

We did not have a bundt pan and ordering one during #coronatime seemed even more frivolous, so we substituted two ceramic baking pans, which reduced the cooking time to about 45 - 50 minutes. Our pan dimensions were: (1) one 3-inch deep, 1-1/2 qt. ceramic pan, and (2) one 3-inch deep, 7-inch by 5-1/2 inch ceramic pan.

For the finish, we have included a video of our totally "winging-it" Phoenix flambe efforts (pun intended).


  • Recipe Ingredients (including your choice of 151-proof alcohol)
    ***PLEASE NOTE: Alcohol is evaporated at 172 degrees Fahrenheit or 78 degrees Celsius, so this CAN be made non-alcoholic once baked and flambe !***

  • 2-large & 1-medium sized mixing bowl
  • marinating dish (for soaking bananas)
  • electric mixer OR spatula
  • whisk OR 1-fork, 2-better knives (& patience)
  • 1-can-opener
  • 1 glass measuring cup (2 cup or higher)
  • 1-measuring cup/spoon set
  • 1-toaster oven OR 1-saute pan, 1-spatula, & a stove-top
  • one 10-inch or 11-inch (12 cup) bundt pan OR equivalent substitution (2 medium sized pans)
    ***We used :(1) one 3-inch deep, 1-1/2 quart ceramic pan, and (2) one 3-inch deep, 7-inch by 5-1/2 inch ceramic pan.***
  • oven
  • 1-camping or grill lighter (to keep flame further from your hand when lighting the rum sauce to flambe)
  • 1-video camera to prove your resurrection

Step 1: Recipe Ingredient Modifications & Options

To get you started, we have provided the variations of our recipe up front. Each Caribbean Spiced Rum Cake recipe results in a moist, semi-firm, fluffy cake. . . like a sponge cake meets arroz con leche.

You can increase moisture by pouring more rum and/or pineapple juice over the baked cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, prior to decorating the cake.

We have included the vegan substitution ingredients in parenthesis listed next to the ingredients used in our recipe. For each step, we have included a reminder of related substitutions in the instructions.

Each recipe requires the same baking temperature and cooking time; the only difference is the ingredients!

Our recipe options include:

  • Gluten-Free (recipe we used here, modified by auntie and us from THIS recipe)
  • Vegan

Gluten-Free (Vegan Substitutes)

For the Spiced Rum Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose, organic, gluten-free flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour starch
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups organic natural granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened, plant-based, buttery spread
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, organic coconut milk, canned
  • 4 extra cage-free, pasture-raised large eggs(vegan substitute: 1/2 banana, mashed = 1 egg)
  • 1/2 cup dark spiced rum, or dark rum (must be at least 151-Proof)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bourbon extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed organic pineapple, drained and juices reserved for glaze (from 20 ounce can)
  • 1-2 tablespoons plant-based buttery spread to coat pan (we used 1 tablespoon per pan in our recipe and it can out of the pan very easily!)

For the Spiced Rum Soaking Sauce:
The following ingredients are mixed to taste, except for the pineapple juice and rum, which should remain a 1:1 or taste test a 2:1 or 4:1 ratio, depending on how much rum you want, and how much flame.

The pepper ingredients give this sauce it's Latin and Caribbean heat, so know your limits! Given our backgrounds, we like it spicy. THIS is why it took my roommate and I longer than the predicted prep time: taste-testing!

  • remaining organic pineapple juice, reserved from can
  • spiced rum (or your choice of alcohol)
    NOTE: For those seeking to cook out all the alcohol content, DO NOT add rum to the marinade.
    We had trouble lighting and had to add more rum to get it to flame. The rum we added definitely cooked off, however, we could not guarantee the rum that soaked into the bananas was cooked off.***
  • 1/2 teaspoon Grace green scotch-bonnet hot pepper sauce
  • cayenne pepper power
  • Swerve organic brown sugar substitute (used to thicken sauce)

For the Topping:

  • 4 - 5 organic bananas
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Step 2: Measuring & Mixing Dry Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Coat the pan(s) along the bottom and sides using buttery spread. Be generous to ensure the cake is able to be removed easily after baking.

    For the Cake:
  3. Measure out and Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including some of the 3/4 cup shredded coconut.

Step 3: Butter & Sugar Bowl

  1. Measure out the buttery spread and sugar. Add them to a large mixing bowl together.
  2. Mix together the butter substitute and sugar with an electric mixer or a spatula until creamy.
    ***Watch THIS Instructable for How to cream butter and sugar, with an electric mixer or by hand.***

Step 4: Mixing Dry and Wet Ingredients

  1. Mix the dry mixture INTO the butter mixture. It will be crumbly.
  2. Whisk the coconut milk, eggs (mashed bananas), rum, extracts, and drained crushed pineapple together in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix rum mixture INTO large bowl with crumbly batter mix.
  4. Mix until smoothly combined. Note: The coconut flakes will prevent it from being completely smooth.

Step 5: Baking

  1. Pour the batter into the 2-medium sized pans and bake for 45 - 50 minutes until golden on top and around the edges. The edges of the cake should separate slightly from the pan when it is done.
  2. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is done. If not, bake for 5 - 10 minutes longer, then test again.

Step 6: Preparing the Flambe Soaking Sauce!

While the cake is baking, prepare the spiced rum soaking sauce. Remember to spice to taste!

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients, starting with 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice and 2 tablespoons of rum (1:1 ratio). *Remember, the rum in the soaking sauce is optional.*

    You will use this as a base to determine the level of spice you like, and then scale it up.

    Remember to keep track of how much you add to this initial mix as you will use the same ratio to scale up the recipe in order to cover all the bananas sliced.***
  2. Add scotch bonnet sauce and cayenne pepper to taste.
  3. Whisk in the brown sugar to thicken to a desired consistency.
  4. Scale up the recipe as needed to have a sufficient amount of soaking sauce to cover the bananas that will be layered on top of the cake to flambe.

Step 7: Preparing and Marinating the Bananas

  1. Remove the cake from the oven and set on the stove-top to begin cooling within the pans.
  2. Peel 3 - 4 bananas and slice them lengthwise. Cut approximately 3 - 4 pieces per banana, not less than 1/4 inch thick so they stay together after soaking.
  3. Place the bananas flat in the marinating dish and cover with the sauce.
  4. Soak bananas for 10 -15 minutes while the cake(s) cool.
    ***Note: Do not allow the bananas to get too soggy or they will fall apart during flambe.***

Step 8: Toasty, Shredded Coconut

While the bananas are soaking in the marinating dish, it's time to toast the shredded coconut!

Again, there are two options.

  1. Option 1: Heat a dry, non-stick saute pan to medium-low and pour the shredded coconut in. Toast until lightly browned, stirring frequently so the coconut flakes do not burn.
  2. Option 2: Toast the coconut using a toaster over set to lightly toast. Toast until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, if needed.

Step 9: Flambe!

  1. There are two flambe options here; both will work equally well. We anticipate people will make their decisions based on which method they feel comfortable with and/or aesthetic and presentation (shall we say flare).
    • Option 1: Leave in pan, decorate in pan, flambe in pan.
    • Option 2: Remove from pan, decorate on serving dish, flambe on serving dish.
      **Be sure the serving dish is not flat and can allow liquids to spill. Alcohol for flambe should be safely kept away from person's hands and cloths**
  2. Once the bananas are done soaking, choose Option 1 or Option 2 above to proceed.

    We did both.

    We kept the cake in the pan to flambe the bananas and then used the old double flip method to remove it from the pan and place on the serving dish (a bamboo cutting board)! Just watch the first 15 seconds of the linked video above.

    Whichever method you choose, to decorate the cake(s) by removing the bananas from the marinating dish and placing them flat across the surface of the cake(s).
  3. Pour the soaking sauce over the bananas and cake, allowing it to get in between the layers. This should be a sufficient amount to attempt to flambe. If this does not work, DO NOT get closer to try to light it. Instead, drizzle a little rum (only) over the top the bananas and quickly light.

    This should get it started. This is what we had to do. On our first attempt, the soaking sauce would not light on its own.Our thoughts are that we added too much brown sugar to the soaking sauce and it would have needed much more heat and a consistent flame to light). So, we just added some extra rum, straight up!
    ***NOTE: Be prepared put out the pan fire if you add too much rum or of any spills out. Better safe than sorry! Oh, and also be ready to RECORD!***
  4. Light the rum on fire using the camping / grill lighter, and FLAMBE!

    Be sure to allow all the alcohol to burn off. See our LIVE ACTION videos!
    ***NOTE: DO NOT add coconut during flambe. It burns too quick and we removed some pieces of coconut from the topping after our flambe attempt.***

Step 10: Final Flake, Eat & Enjoy!

  1. Once the alcohol burns off, sprinkle the toasted coconut over the cake.
  2. Pour any remaining soaking sauce into a side dish as an extra source of tasty, spicy hot drizzle for "sauzzy" decorators!
  3. Cut the cake, share, and enjoy! We hope you love it as much as we did!
    It made it through dinner and the following breakfast between the three of us . . . . #coronatime
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