Also known as Gateau Au Beurre, Haitian Cake is a delicious, buttery bake with a hit of dark Barbancourt rum. Double the recipe as you’ll want more after the first bite!
The recipe works perfectly on its own, but also forms the basis of most birthday cakes and cupcakes enjoyed in Haiti, either filled with fresh fruit or beautifully decorated.
Haitian Cake is rather dense, but beautifully soft thanks to the addition of rum and condensed milk which is often added.
If you’re looking for a spin on a classic, or simply something sweet to enjoy with a hot cup of tea, then this Haitian Cake recipe is definitely one to try.
Traditionally, Barbancourt rum is used in this recipe as it is produced in Haiti (it’s also known as one of the world’s finest rums!).
Rum Barbancourt was founded by Dupre Barbancourt in 1862 after emigrating to Haiti from the Cognac region of France.
The same method used to prepare this rhum by Dupre remain the same 150 years later, and still produces the same great taste today.
Pure sugar cane purchased directly from farmers in Haiti is used to make Rhum Barbancourt.
Most of Haiti’s culture lives in the rum, which further entice the flavour in the cake and making it quite unique.
Barbancourt is widely exported, so you should have no trouble finding it at your local store, though if you have another dark rum on hand, you can use that instead, be mindful that the taste will not be the same, and you risk missing out the unique flavor of this Haitian Cake.
If using another rum, it may not have quite the same complexity as Barbancourt, which is aged to produce its unique flavor, but it will have the same effect…. just different taste.
The purpose of evaporated milk in baking recipes is to add tenderness, moisture and flavor.
It also helps to add color and achieve that tempting golden crust.
Commonly found canned, it is simply milk that has been cooked until the water has evaporated, resulting in a cream-like consistency.
Though low-fat and fat-free options are available, I’d always recommend using the regular stuff for baking, as for this recipe we used 1% milk, which helps to not make the cake too dense.
Haitian Cake is also elevated beyond a standard sponge thanks to the inclusion of almond extract, vanilla extract, and in some instances, lime zest.
If you choose, you may also use nutmeg, which helps to bring out the warm, nutty flavor of the rum, while vanilla adds a hint of sweetness.
Paired with the fresh, nutty taste of the almond extract and the flavor combinations in this cake are truly to die for. It also makes for a beautiful aroma that makes Haitian Cake all the more mouthwatering.
How To Make It?
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside (step 1).
Beat the sugar, egg yolk, and butter (step 2).
Add the nutmeg, Barbancourt rum, and alternatively add in the milk and flour mixture (step 3). Beat to a creamy, silky texture (step 4). Set the batter aside.
Next, beat the egg whites (step 5) to stiff form. Then fold in the egg whites in the cake batter.
Place the batter in a buttered 8 inch baking pan to make 2 layers, or place the batter in a 16 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
Allow cake to cool completely before icing and cutting/serving.
Icing Haitian Cake
Though, as mentioned above, this cake can be served plain, if you would like to frost it you have several options that will work.
A simple glaze of sugar, butter and lemon juice adds some attractive drizzle icing to the top, or you could go even simple with some sweetened, shredded coconut sprinkled over the top.
If you are making Haitian Cake for a celebration then you may like to coat it in a vanilla, rum or coconut buttercream and decorate it according to your preference.
In this recipe, we used a cream cheese icing with almond extract to further intensify the flavors in the cake.
To make the icing, you’ll need:
24 oz. Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
4 Tbsp. Almond Extract
2 ½ Cup Powder Sugar
¼ Cup Milk
Start by beating the cream cheese until it starts to breakdown. Next, add the sugar, almond extract, and milk.
Beat until creamy. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
Baking Haitian Cake
When ready to start icing the cake, place the cake on a rack or large plate.
Start with one layer at a time and apply the icing.
Decorate as desired.
As this cake uses a fairly dense mixture than what we are accustomed to here in the States, it has a relatively long cooking time (See baking tips below).
You will know the cake is done when you can insert a skewer and it comes out clean.
If it is not done after the recommended time, then put the cake back in the oven with some foil loosely placed over the top to stop the top from burning.
Cool the cake completely before applying the icing. Allow the cake to come to room temperature if it was placed in the refrigerator before serving. This will help the cake to not be “grainy” as it is more on the dense side.
When making Gateau au beurre, we recommend separating the batter as it will cut down on the cooking time. The cake is somewhat dense, separating the cake into two 8-inch pan will help provide 2 layers, and also will help cut down the cooking time.
Best to use butter to coat the baking pan, as cooking spray or oil can weigh down the cake. Lightly coat the pan with butter (But not excessively).
Be sure that the cake is cooled completely, about 2 hours or longer BEFORE removing it from the pan and icing it. This will help to finish the setting process and will keep your cake from breaking down.
Allow the cake to come to room temperature if it was placed in the refrigerator before serving. This will help the cake to not be “grainy” as it is more on the dense side.
How To Store Haitian Cake?
To keep your Barbancourt rum cake(s) tasting just as fresh and delicious as it did when you first baked it, it’s best to know how to properly store the gateau au beurre.
Once your cake or cakes (if made in layers) has cooled, you can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. However, as time passes it will begin to dry out, so it’s always best eaten within the first couple of days.
Once the cake(s) cools completely, wrap it press’n seal, or plastic wrap.
Then wrap the cake in the aluminum foil and add the name of the cake, and date on the top to make it easier for you to find in the future and ready to serve.
Place the cake(s) in a freezer-safe container.
Freeze for up to 3 months or up to 6 months (maybe longer) in the deep freezer.
How To Thaw The Cake?
Thawing the Haitian cake is easy. To start, simply transfer the wrapped cake from the freezer to the refrigerator the day before serving or decorating.
Best to remove the cake, or cakes if using layers out of the freezer container to thaw. This will help to also speed up the process.
The cake can take at least up to 8 hours to thaw completely in the refrigerator.
If after allowing the cake to thaw out, you can place it in the microwave for 20 seconds (depending on the size) to soften it up. However, we highly recommend thawing out the cake at a slower rate at room temperature by placing it on the counter instead.
This is imperative: Be sure to thaw out the cake while they’re still in the wrapped. Remember that condensation will form, especially as foods thaw.
If you allow the cake to thaw out while it is still wrapped, the condensation will form on the wrapping, instead on the cake.
More Cake Recipes You’ll Love
If you loved this Haitian Cake, Gateau au beurre recipe, try one of these cakes next:
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Delicious Haitian Cake With Cream Cheese Icing
- Cake pan
- Cake Stand Mixer
- 3 Cups All-purpose flour Sifted
- 1 Tsp. Salt We used kosher salt
- 2 ½ Tsp. Baking powder
- 2 Stick butter Unsalted
- 2 Egg yolks Room temperature
- 1 ⅓ Cup Sugar
- ½ Tsp. Nutmeg
- 2 ⅓ Cup Milk
- 2 Tsp. Vanilla extract Haitian version if possible
- 1 Tsp. Almond extract
- 2 Egg whites Room Temperature
- 2 Tbsp. Haitian Rum (Barbancourt Rhum)
Cream Cheese Icing
- 24 Oz. Cream cheese Room temperature
- 4 Tsp. Almond extract
- 2 ½ Cup Powder Sugar
- ¼ Cup Milk More if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.Beat the sugar, egg yolk, and butter. Add the nutmeg, vanilla, and almond extract, Barbancourt rum, and alternatively add in the milk and flour mixture. Beat to a creamy, silky texture. Set the batter aside.Next, beat the egg whites to stiff form. Then fold in the egg whites in the cake batter. Place the batter in a buttered 8-inch baking pan to make 2 layers, or place the batter in a 16-inch pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Allow cake to cool completely before icing and cutting/serving the cake.