Christmas and New Year’s wouldn’t be complete without our favorite celebration cake. As far back as I can remember it wasn’t a party without Rum Cake; aka Caribbean Fruit Cake; aka Black Cake. Every year my Jamaican grandfather, well into his eighties, would personally make and then drive the distance from Florida to North Carolina and then to New York to deliver his cakes. When he couldn’t drive he would mail the cake in a pretty cake tin carefully packed in a box. All one of my three kids looked forward to a cake from “Grandpa” for their birthdays. Maybe because they knew it was handmade especially for each of them and it would be delicious – a dark, fruity, moist cake soaked in rum. It was the only time the kids were allowed to taste alcohol- when it was in a cake!
I have always loved this decadent cake and couldn’t think of a better cake for my own wedding over 20 years ago. I opted for a multi tiered rum cake covered in marzipan and white icing and heavily decorated with hand made cascading white sugar roses. It was the most beautiful cake I had ever seen and fit for a princess or queen.
During the holidays and even after, Caribbean families love to share their rum cake with visitors and brag about how good it is. Well trust me, if you make this cake it will be worth bragging about! To each his own but I have never been a fan of commercial fruit cake which is often dry with overly sweet bland fruit. This fruit cake is very flavorful and will transport you straight to the islands.
My grandfather passed away in 2014 but not before he shared his recipe with me. I have made many cakes for friends & family and even sold some upon request. I am sharing the recipe with you below and I know you will love this cake!
2 lbs Raisins
2 lbs Currants
2 lbs Mixed fruit (may contain lemon & orange peel)
2 lbs Pitted prunes
1 lb Maraschino cherries
2 quarts or large bottle of sweet red port wine
1 bottle of White Jamaican Rum (750ml )
3 cups of flour
1lb unsalted butter (4 sticks)
1 lb dark brown sugar (2 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 or more tablespoons burnt sugar depending on how dark you want the cake
Prepare to soak the fruit, wine & rum in an airtight jar weeks to months in advance of baking. Now is a good time to soak the fruit for next years cakes! Here is a video to see how: Soaking fruit for Jamaican Rum cake
Prep: 40mins Bake: 60mins Amount: 2 cakes (8 & 10 inch round)
1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add eggs one at a time and continue to cream
3. Add spices and burnt sugar
4. Coarsely chop or pulse 4 cups of the soaked fruit and add to batter
5. Sieve flour and baking powder together and add to batter one cup at a time folding in slowly. Don’t over whisk!
6. Pour batter into two butter wax lined baking tins and cover lightly with tin foil.
7. Preheat oven and bake cake at 250-300 degrees. You may immerse the cake tins in a water bath to bake it more evenly with more moisture and it is less likely to burn.
8. Test to make sure cake is baked by sticking a knife in the center. If knife comes out clean it is done. Cool at room temp.
9. Once cake is cool, prick it with toothpick or fork and drizzle two tablespoons of your favorite rum & wine mixture or a cap full of rum over the cake. Let the cake absorb this before serving.
If cake is not going to be eaten immediately (which is preferred) preserve it by adding more rum to it a few times a week for up to a month and wrapping it in rum soaked cheese cloth or wax paper and or plastic saran paper before wrapping it in foil. (Since the cake is moist do not place the foil directly on it). Put in a cake tin or airtight container and store in a cool dry place for weeks or even months!
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Watch how to make it!