Sunday, December 27, 2009

Black Cake

For most West Indians it's not 'chestnuts roasting on an open fire or Jack Frost nipping at your toes' that evokes feelings of Christmas but black cake soaked in lots of rum. It just wouldn't be Christmas without it. So much so that I have actually had to mail tins of this cake to friends and family abroad who craved a taste of home.

Black cake is also used for weddings. As per tradition I saved a layer of my wedding cake which we consumed in celebration of the birth of our first child - six years later! I confess to being more than a bit skeptical as I contemplated that well-aged slice of cake. Curiosity won out. I ate it and crossed my fingers that there wouldn't be any ill effects. My fears were unfounded. No one was poisoned and the cake tasted about the same as it did on the day of my wedding. Delicious.

This year's black cake was baked by November, wrapped, soaked in rum and put to cure for Christmas. Because of the hectic season, I am only now finding time to post this amazing, fragrant and boozy treat that we will be enjoying well into January.The New York Times has a good recipe for Black Cake.

My own cake is not the traditional black colour. Click here to see the colour that it should be. Some years I get it right, some years not. This year I chickened out and removed the sugar from the fire too soon. You'd be surprised how quickly the sugar goes from dark brown to a bitter charred mess. It takes experience and careful watching to get it right. If you have read about my struggles with custard then you will know that I am an an impatient cook. The lighter coloured cake is no less delicious than a dark one.

The NY Times recipe suggests that you brush the cake with rum. I don't know anyone who does that. Here is how we soak our cakes. Make small holes all over the cake with a skewer. Throw away the brush and drench the cakes in rum. Nothing less than a full bottle will do.

On Christmas Eve the caterers at my husband's firm served black cake. A co-worker decided that since it was the last day of work before a holiday there was little chance that the drug and alcohol tester would show up. Turns out he was wrong!

Here are some sites that talk about this cake

A fruitcake soaked in the tropical sun

Black cake - a dry run

Black Cake


  1. your set up photos are great :-) of course, our black cake is alcohol-free ;-) but the good thing is we don't have to make it too far in advance. Mom's making for me when I head back to Trinidad in a few days. Yay.

  2. You know I don't think I have ever made a balck cake! (I always make my mum's pudding). Anywhoo -looks delicious.
    Someone told me Kiss is making a decent one for those of us "gwan a faregn" -my Dad had one and it made me smile to see the number 1 and number 2 ingredients as rum and brandy.
    Merry Christmas my dear!

  3. Chennette: Thanks for the compliment. I would love to try your mom's non alcoholic version! I bet that would be a big hit at my husband's workplace. LOL

    Dee: Big hugs and that's why I said 'most' not all West Indians because I DO so remember your mom's pudding. Yum! That's the Jamaican in you girl. So did you make pudding this year?

  4. This is so interesting! I've never heard of this cake before so thanks for letting us know! :D Haha I like your attitude towards the rum in the cake!

  5. LOL! I haven't made pudding since 2006 - but I did put extra fruits to soak :D
    I do have to add some more rum and give them a stir tho!

  6. Oh wow! That is a fabulous cake, and really interesting too.
    Thanks so much for sending it to SHF!
    Happy New Year to you!

  7. regardless of the degree of jet-blackness, i think it's still a lovely cake to behold. i don't behold cakes for long, though--it's more important to me that they be delicious, and there's no doubt that this one would be! happy new year!!

  8. Oh wow, such gorgeous pictures! And the cake looks so divine as well. Just want to have a bite on it.... yummm.....

  9. Oh fab! I've been wanting to make black cake ever since someone mentioned it to me. Thanks for the reminder :)