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This Caribbean rum cake recipe is written by Caribbean chef, Keshia Sakarah. Keshia says: "Black cake is a rich, luxurious and traditional dessert made at Christmas. Originally called the empire Christmas pudding, this cake is an evolution of the British plum and Christmas puddings. It's a clear reference to the British colonial interests in the Caribbean as it's found mostly on islands of the former British West Indies – for example, Barbados, Montserrat and Guyana, following the introduction of Christianity during which new religious holidays and practices were observed.

"Dried fruit, a range of spices, rum, sugar and molasses were all high-value trade items during the colonial period that have remained key components of this recipe. The ritualistic process of soaking fruits in alcohol then grinding into a rough paste, which can start as early as the Christmas before, is key to maintaining the cake's richness and density."

Ingredients

FRUIT BASE

  • 50g dried prunes
  • 65g sultanas
  • 25g glacé cherries
  • 50g raisins
  • 35g mixed peel
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 150ml spiced rum

CAKE BASE

  • 225g unsalted butter, plus extra for the tin
  • 225g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 150g plain flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder

BROWNING

  • 45ml molasses syrup or sugar
  • 45ml spiced rum

SOAKING

  • 100ml spiced rum

Method

  • STEP 1

    For the fruit base, put the prunes, sultanas, cherries, raisins, mixed peel and cinnamon sticks into a bowl. Pour over the spiced rum then mix together well, ensuring the fruit is coated. Put in an airtight jar or container and leave to soak for at least 48 hours or as early as a month in advance. Once the fruits have soaked (they will have absorbed the rum), discard the cinnamon sticks and pour the rest into a blender or food processor and whizz until about three-quarters smooth (you want to keep some texture in the fruit).

  • STEP 2

    Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking paper. To make the cake base, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and citrus zests until combined. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time, whisking lightly so you don't knock out the air. It may curdle a little but that’s okay. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture along with the ground almonds. Gradually fold in using a metal spoon, to retain the air. Add the blended fruit mixture and fold in until evenly combined, then set aside.

  • STEP 3

    For the browning, put the molasses and spiced rum in a small pan and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes or until syrupy and reduced by a third. Quickly pour into the cake mixture. Mix well to ensure the browning is distributed throughout.

  • STEP 4

    Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, then use a knife to level the top and ensure the mixture sits evenly in the tin. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes-1 hour 20 minutes or until the cake is an even dark brown colour across the top and a knife or skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Put the cake on a wire rack to cool.

  • STEP 5

    Now the cake is ready to be fed. Once the cake has cooled, remove the cake from the tin (keep the baking paper intact), put on a plate or tray then, using a skewer, poke holes across the surface of the cake. Pour the rum over the surface of the cake gradually, focussing on the areas that have been poked with the skewer to ensure the rum reaches the bottom of the cake. Feel free to add as much rum as you like when feeding the cake – the more you add the stronger the flavour will be over time. Now it is ready to serve.

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