Trini Fruit Cake

The Christmas dessert I absolutely love is black cake, called Christmas or rum cake in some parts of the Caribbean and fruit cake in England from where the recipe was first adapted across the region.  The popular *Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage gives the most descriptive definition of black cake as:

a rich, dark, rum-soaked fruit cake of heavy pudding-like texture, made dark by using burnt brown sugar as an ingredient; it is kept moist by pouring rum or wine over it, and it is served during Christmas season and at weddings.

For as long as I can remember, my mother would always remind me in August about setting the fruits in preparation for baking the fruit cake for Christmas.  This was especially urgent if no fruits had been set much earlier in February (or even before).  That has been my family’s tradition.  That’s the first secret to our recipe – early fruit setting to ensure that rich flavor and moist texture that are two of the hallmarks of our fruit/black cake .  Though I have held on to most of the elements of the recipe inherited from my mother (and grandmothers), I have added some new touches over the last decade as I have experimented annually.   The recipe might appear similar to many out there but yet another secret is in the preparation and execution.  When correctly executed the recipe receives rave reviews like “melt-in-your-mouth delicious”!


Setting the Fruits

My fruit cakes avoid using nuts and chunky cut fruits to prevent allergic reactions and crumbling consistency.  Achieving my preferred smooth, firm texture and consistency begins with the preparation of the fruits for setting.  This involves:

Fruits Set for Christmas Fruit Cake (a)   washing the fruits, carefully de-seeding then chopping them all together

(b)   Chopped fruits are then mixed again in a large bowl

(c)   Spooned into glass bottles where Cherry brandy, Caribbean rum and/or wines are generously added

(d)  Bottle lids are tightly secured and stored in a cool, dry place until ready for use

(e)  Periodically during the 6-12 month period when fruits are set, more brandy and rum are added



Prunes (seeded and chopped)
Mixed Peel
Glazed Fruits
1lb Butter
1lb Granulated sugar
10 large Eggs
4 cups (1lb) Flour
2 tsps Baking powder
2 tsps Ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup Browning (or to your preference)


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Cake Batter1) Prepare cake pans by greasing and flouring them
2) Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3) Add eggs by beating into batter 3 at a time
4) Combine flour, cinnamon and baking powder
5) Fold into creamed mixture gradually
6) Alternate flour with pre-set fruits to your desired consistency
7) Add enough browning for rich, dark color
8) Stir well
9) Fill baking pans with mixture until 3/4 filled


Place in pre-heated oven and allow to bake for 2 hoursFruit Cake - Ready for Baking

Test after 90 minutes

Remove from oven after fully cooked

While still hot, soak with blend of alcohol

Set aside and add alcohol at 4 hour intervals for next 12 hours

Cut after 24 hours



*Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage Edited by Richard Allsopp

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