How to Make Festive Rum Cake

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  • Cake
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • eggs plus large yolks (reserve egg whites for meringue)
  • sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • unsalted butter, melted
  • Coconut Pastry Cream
  • milk
  • coconut milk
  • egg yolk
  • granulated sugar
  • cornstarch
  • all-purpose flour
  • vanilla bean
  • Meringue
  • egg whites (use whites from cake recipe)
  • cream of tartar
  • white granulated sugar
  • Sauce
  • heavy cream
  • dark brown sugar
  • unsalted butter
  • Bacardi Gold Rum
  • Brûlée bananas
  • bananas peeled, sliced into circles place on bake proof sheet and put in freezer
  • granulated sugar
  • Toasted walnut brittle
  • superfine sugar
  • light corn syrup
  • salt
  • water
  • chopped roasted walnuts
  • soft unsalted butter
  • baking soda

We’re all a little more apt to indulge in sweet treats as the holidays approach, says Chad Blunston, executive chef at the Fairmont Newport Beach in California, and his sinful rum cake cheers the festive spirit in perfectly, he adds.

“The lightness of the cake and warm rum tones give a sense of warmth and coziness.”

Rum cake is also a staple, a sweet delight that most consumers can identify with, yet this one offers a few extras that really allow them to indulge.

Blunston developed this recipe a few years ago for a competition in Boston, where it took first prize, and guests at the Fairmont continue to enjoy it.

Walnut brittle

  1. Grease a large cookie sheet and set inside a warm oven. Have butter and baking soda next to the stove for easy access later.
  2. In a heavy saucepan add sugar, syrup, salt and water over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Add walnuts.
  3. Set candy thermometer (to read the temperature of the sugar) in pan and cook until 300ºF (hard crack stage).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter and baking soda.
  5. Pour onto warmed cookie sheet and spread with spatula or place Silpat on mix and roll out to desired thickness. Snap into pieces for garnish.

Coconut pastry cream

  1. Scrape vanilla pod in a medium saucepan. Stir into the milk and bring to a boil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and milk.
  3. Whisk in cornstarch and flour until smooth.
  4. Temper the egg mixture by slowly whisking in about 1/3 of the heated milk, then whisk in remaining milk.
  5. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and boils, whisking constantly.
  6. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and pour into bowl, press plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 2 hours.


  1. In a small deep bowl with electric mixer, beat egg white and cream of tartar on medium speed about 1 minute or until soft peaks form.
  2. On high speed, gradually beat in sugar 1 Tbs. at a time until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Set aside


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF with rack in middle. Lightly spray (9-inch round/2-inch deep cake pan or 4 to 4.5-inch angel food cake pans 2 inches deep or other cake mold) with non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Whisk together whole eggs and yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in flour mixture until combined. Then whisk in butter until just combined.
  4. Pour into cake pan and tap pan on counter top to expel air bubbles. Do not fill to top of cake pan.
  5. Bake until golden brown and cake starts to pull away from side of pan, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes.


  1. Bring cream, brown sugar and butter to boil in heavy medium-sized saucepan, over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer sauce until reduced, stirring occasionally—about 5 minutes. Add Bacardi Gold Rum and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. The sauce can be prepared a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Warm in microwave and stir before serving.

Banana brûlée

  1. Pre-heat broiler to highest setting, or better yet, use blowtorch. Sprinkle bananas with sugar and brûlée until golden.

To assemble:

  1. In a large bowl take equal parts meringue and coconut pastry cream and fold in. Set aside.
  2. Place cake on desired platter, pour warm Bacardi Rum toffee sauce over cake.
  3. Top with large dollop of coconut pastry cream/meringue, arrange brûlée bananas, and garnish with walnut brittle and fresh mint.

Chef Chad Blunston began his culinary career on the East Coast of Canada in 1991 as an apprentice chef de partie with Delta Prince Edward, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and joined The Fairmont group of hotels in 1998. He’s worked for the group ever since, and has been executive chef at the Fairmont Newport Beach, California, since June 2010.