The most traditional of Haitian cake recipe is the “Gateau au Beurre,” or butter cake. This is a classic pound cake, with a few special additions that give it a unique flavor: rum, nutmeg, and lime zest. It also traditionally includes evaporated milk, which contributes to its very moist texture.
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A Short History of Haitian Gateau au Beurre
It is almost impossible to find anything published on the history of gateau au beurre. We are left to speculate that its origins probably lie in 18th century pound cakes. These were popular in Northern Europe, but also in France. These simple cakes, which rely on a 1:1:1:1 ratio of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, must have traveled with British and French colonists to Haiti in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, you will find the Haitian gateau au beurre topped with a lemon juice glaze and sprinkled with coconut. This simple cake appears frequently at special occasions and is a favorite among birthday cakes.
Other Haitian Sweets
We did a deep dive into Haitian cuisine (desserts only!) in writing this cake up. The gateau ayisyen zoranj (Haitian orange cake) might come in second . It is a very similar recipe, but orange juice is substituted for the evaporated milk. Another traditional Haitian cake recipe is a rum cake, very similar to the one we have posted here. Other popular dishes include Haitian beignets (bananas with a deep-fried crust), sweet potato pie, dous makos, a Haitian kind of fudge that was invented by Fernand Makos, the Haitian version of Milton Hershey (of Hershey Chocolate fame), and tablet kokoye, a coconut candy.
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If you’re being authentic, you can’t make a Haitian gateau au beurre without Barbancourt rum. Barbancourt is the oldest continuously operating family-run distillery on the island and produces award-winning rums. Dupre Barbancourt, an immigrant from the Cognac-producing region of Charentes, founded the distillery in 1862. He learned how to make rum from sugar cane juice upon arriving in Haiti. He added a double-distillation method that he must have learned from the cognac industry. His rum was delicious, and the business expanded rapidly. It is one of Haiti’s best-known exports.
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We love that this cake allowed us to test out our brand new fancy bundt pan. Here are few more bundt favorites.
Pistachio Bundt Cake
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Orange Almond Bundt Cake
Useful Ingredients for Making this Haitian Cake Recipe
Best Rums For Making this Cake
Obviously, if money is no object Barbancourt Rum should be your go-to for this baking project. You can order it here: