Dark Espresso and Rum Cake

It was a pretty easy choice when it came to my big brother’s birthday cake. Coffee had always been his favourite; rich, dark and layered with indulgent buttercream. Yum. But then again, why not add alcohol? So here is my attempt at this decadent cake, laced with intense dark rum to really complement to the espresso flavour and it’s good…really good!


For the cake:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g light muscavado sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temp
  • 4 drops vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 shot of espresso (or tsp instant coffee in tbsp hot water)

For the buttercream and decoration:

  • 150g butter, softened as cubes
  • a good glug of dark rum (5 tbsp)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g icing sugar
  • a handful of walnut halves plus extra muscavado!


  1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3 and grease/line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and as pale as possible (elbow grease needed!!).
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the vanilla.IMG_0686.JPG
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. Add half of the egg mixture and half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Stir, then add the rest of the egg and flour mixtures in batches until fully combined.IMG_0688.JPG
  6. Then in a mug add a dessert spoon of boiling water to the coffee and stir until the coffee granules have dissolved (or a shot of espresso for a fuller flavour). Add to the cake batter and stir through, adding the chopped walnuts and giving the batter final beating to ensure everything is fully combined.
  7. Carefully spoon the batter into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is firm and the edges are coming away from the tin. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  8. For the Cumberland rum butter, in a bowl beat the butter until soft. Gradually beat in the sugar until fully combined and soft.
  9. Beat in the rum a little at a time (to prevent it splitting). It will be very soft but will firm up when chilled. Store in the fridge until ready to use.IMG_0690.JPG
  10. Remove the cake from the tin and place on a cooling rack. When the cake has cooled completely, cut it in half horizontally (I chose not to, I didn’t trust myself this time!) and spread with half of the Cumberland rum butter (or alternatively make cake in two halves using smaller tins but make sure to cook 10C cooler and for about 10 minutes less time). Sandwich the two halves together and decorate the top with the remaining rum butter
  11. For a little added decadence, throw the whole walnuts in a saucepan with a knob of butter and about 50g of muscovado sugar and allow to caramelize! Decorate artfully on the top buttercream layer and enjoy!


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