Trinidad Black Cake (recipe)

Festive Food Fair Like sorrel, Black Cake in Trinidad is a Christmas institution. Made predominantly of alcohol drenched prunes, currants and raisins, variations abound (and I love taste testing when we make the visiting rounds). Still, the best black cake is always the recipe that one grew up with. In this case my black cake comes from my aunt, who also uses this recipe to make grooms’ cakes for weddings (in Trinidad these are also traditionally black cake).

You’ll notice the insane amount of liquour that goes into this dessert. Not only does that make the final cake unbelievably moist it also renders it virtually ageless. My aunt makes a batch of these at xmas time, keeps them in ‘old time cake tins’ and even in July and August we are still eating the remnants!

Trinidad Black Cake

Auntie Olga’s Trinidad Black Cake

Gluten-free Trinidad Black Cake (instructions for gluten-free, traditional, and halaal follow below)

Trinidad Black Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 lb unsalted butter (use margarine for pareve)
1 lb sugar
8 eggs
1 tsp lemon essence
2 tsp lime rind (zested)
2 tsp almond essence
2 tsp vanilla
1 lb all-purpose flour (use 1/2 cassava flour + 1/2 lb rice flour for gluten-free)
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Fruit Base:

1 lb pitted prunes
1 lb raisins
1 lb currants
1 bottle cherry brandy
1 bottle rum and/or Bailey’s
2 tbsp Angostura bitters

Browning:

1 lb brown sugar
1/2 cup boiling hot water

Have on Hand:

1 more bottle of rum

Method:

Three to Five Days Before:

Up to 5 days before you make the cake, chop up all the fruits for the fruit base. Place in a large bowl, pour in Angostura bitters, cherry brandy and rum (I use Bailey’s when I have extra $$$ and it really makes it extra special :)). Leave in a cool corner, covered, to soak up the liquor. As I said 3-5 days before is the best option, 24 hours minimum if you must be ‘so last-minute’!

On the Day Of:

Blend Fruit Base:

I pour the soaked fruit and juices into a blender and blend until thick and still a bit chunky (like tomato sauce). Note: If you have been macerating your fruit for a minimum of a month in advance you can skip this step :)

Prepare Browning:

Burn sugar until caramelized, add hot water gradually. Mix well and leave to cool.
Please be extra careful at this stage as a ‘browning’ burn is NOT a fun thing!

Once that is done…

1. Preheat oven to 250F (no that’s not a typo)
2. Cream the butter and sugar.
3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate
4. Add lemon essence, lemon zest, almond essence and vanilla
5. Mix and sift flour, baking powder, mixed spice and nutmeg.
6. Gradually add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture
7. Mix in fruit base puree and ‘browning’
8. Pour batter into greased tins that have been doubly lined with brown paper or parchment paper
9. Bake for 3 hours
10. Once removed from the oven soak the tops with equal portions of the remaining bottle of rum. Don’t be surprised if the top of the cake starts to look pale and ‘weird’. Kinda like below



Believe me, after several hours, and definitely by the next day all that alcohol will be absorbed and you will finally understand how this cake got its name! :D

NOTE: For those who avoid alcohol for religious or personal reasons, soaking can be done using grape or apple juice! Thanks to Chennette for that tip! You can find her recipe for non-alcoholic halaal Trinidad Black cake here.

This post was originally published November 26, 2006. It has been updated three times since.

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  • Mopsy 810

    Don’t blend the fruit in a blender this is totally horrible cut up the fruit, you not making mush, you need to enjoy the various pieces of fruit when eating the cake. (like tomato sauce) who ever heard of that, such crap… look for another receip there are many more out there. This is crap.

    Below instructions—- No no no dod’t blend the fruit. how stupid.
    I pour the soaked fruit and juices into a blender and blend until thick and still a bit chunky (like tomato sauce)

    • http://Enteryourwebsite... Enter your name…

      It all depends on how you like your cake. I hate to be eating chunks of fruits in my black cake and there are plenty of others like myself. I prefer to blend my fruits as wells, so when you are eating the cake you get that moist feel in your mouth. So please do not discredit this recipe because most people today blend their fruits and the cake is moist and nice.

  • Sebastian

    Hey Sarina!

    What size tins and how many of them do you usually use?

  • Sebastian

    Hey Sarina!

    What size tins and how many of them do you usually use?

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Christie – It normally fills to the top a gallon bottle

    Samy – Hope you liked it! :)

    Mopsy – textural preferences are highly personal. I for one hate hate hate to ‘enjoy the various pieces of fruit’ as you put it. That’s why legitimate variations abound and one is not more right than the other. My aunt has been making hers professionally for over 60 years and there are ZERO pieces to be found there. Neither way is, ‘crap’. If one is making the base at the last minute then the fruit will -not- break down in the baking process and will leave extremely firm chunks. The longer one macerates the fruit for (ideally at least a month) the less this step becomes necessary.

    Sebastian – I normally use a 12 inch springform pan. It’s good to have 2 on hand, you don’t want it to overflow in the oven :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Christie – It normally fills to the top a gallon bottle

    Samy – Hope you liked it! :)

    Mopsy – textural preferences are highly personal. I for one hate hate hate to ‘enjoy the various pieces of fruit’ as you put it. That’s why legitimate variations abound and one is not more right than the other. My aunt has been making hers professionally for over 60 years and there are ZERO pieces to be found there. Neither way is, ‘crap’. If one is making the base at the last minute then the fruit will -not- break down in the baking process and will leave extremely firm chunks. The longer one macerates the fruit for (ideally at least a month) the less this step becomes necessary.

    Sebastian – I normally use a 12 inch springform pan. It’s good to have 2 on hand, you don’t want it to overflow in the oven :)

  • Jaz Borden

    Mopsy,you are most definitely entitled to your opinion but also tactless and rude. Try showing a bit of class, will you? Thanks :-D

  • Jaz Borden

    Mopsy,you are most definitely entitled to your opinion but also tactless and rude. Try showing a bit of class, will you? Thanks :-D

  • tom

    hello

    i made this recipe for the second time. this time round i used Madeira wine instead of cherry brandy, increased the amount of angostura and let the fruit soak for about three months.

    6 of the cakes i made (i made triple quantities…) were turned into a grooms cake. the excesses of rum made for a happy wedding party!

    anyway, great recipe, cheers!

  • tom

    hello

    i made this recipe for the second time. this time round i used Madeira wine instead of cherry brandy, increased the amount of angostura and let the fruit soak for about three months.

    6 of the cakes i made (i made triple quantities…) were turned into a grooms cake. the excesses of rum made for a happy wedding party!

    anyway, great recipe, cheers!

  • magician

    I’m soaking my fruit to make my black cakes for the second year for Christmas. My neighbor is from Trinidad and when I gave him cakes last year he was astounded and pleased. Especially because since he left home no one has made him any. Another Trinidad friend looked at the cakes and said “These are my cakes! These are my cakes from home!” Needless to say, I was very pleased.

    My sister, who is the only person in my family who’s actually eaten a black cake (at a Jamaican wedding) gave it thumbs up also. She loves ginger, so I found some ginger flavored brandy to sprinkle on the finished cakes. They were so moist and lovely, she said it was like eating a souffle instead of a cake.

    I gave all credit to you and your wonderful recipe. Thank you so much for providing a great and unusual treat for holiday sharing. Love your site.

  • magician

    I’m soaking my fruit to make my black cakes for the second year for Christmas. My neighbor is from Trinidad and when I gave him cakes last year he was astounded and pleased. Especially because since he left home no one has made him any. Another Trinidad friend looked at the cakes and said “These are my cakes! These are my cakes from home!” Needless to say, I was very pleased.

    My sister, who is the only person in my family who’s actually eaten a black cake (at a Jamaican wedding) gave it thumbs up also. She loves ginger, so I found some ginger flavored brandy to sprinkle on the finished cakes. They were so moist and lovely, she said it was like eating a souffle instead of a cake.

    I gave all credit to you and your wonderful recipe. Thank you so much for providing a great and unusual treat for holiday sharing. Love your site.

  • Sue Karran

    Hi there, great informational page.
    question: can i use satin ice as a covering for my rum cake? would i still need the almond paste if i do? thank you.
    Sue

  • Sue Karran

    Hi there, great informational page.
    question: can i use satin ice as a covering for my rum cake? would i still need the almond paste if i do? thank you.
    Sue

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Tom & Magician – I am so happy to hear that the recipes were a hit with you and your friends/family :) I definitely agree that the longer the fruits soak the better the final result :)

    Sue – Satin ice as a covering sounds lovely. It would replace the almond paste :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Tom & Magician – I am so happy to hear that the recipes were a hit with you and your friends/family :) I definitely agree that the longer the fruits soak the better the final result :)

    Sue – Satin ice as a covering sounds lovely. It would replace the almond paste :)

  • Steven

    Sounds GREAT.
    Very similar to the recipe my mum handed down. We just put in the brown suger (no browning). We also have 1lb of sultanas and ¼ lb of prunes, cherries & dates. I also use just 300ml of brandy or rum.
    I will try this after Christmas.

    What size round pans do you use? I use a 9” square pan but the corners tend to be a bit dry.

  • Steven

    Sounds GREAT.
    Very similar to the recipe my mum handed down. We just put in the brown suger (no browning). We also have 1lb of sultanas and ¼ lb of prunes, cherries & dates. I also use just 300ml of brandy or rum.
    I will try this after Christmas.

    What size round pans do you use? I use a 9” square pan but the corners tend to be a bit dry.

  • charlene

    hi, i have been looking for a fruit cake recipe for quite sometime now i hate chunky fruit in a cake so blending it would be ideal for me. i once tasted a fruit cake moist and no chunky fruit with a chocolatey flavour, is it wise to add cocoa powder to the cake or even melted chocolate for that chocolate taste?

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Hi Charlene, I haven’t ever tried adding chocolate or cocoa. I probably would go with melted chocolate myself. Let me know how it turns out! :)

  • charlene

    hi, i have been looking for a fruit cake recipe for quite sometime now i hate chunky fruit in a cake so blending it would be ideal for me. i once tasted a fruit cake moist and no chunky fruit with a chocolatey flavour, is it wise to add cocoa powder to the cake or even melted chocolate for that chocolate taste?

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Hi Charlene, I haven’t ever tried adding chocolate or cocoa. I probably would go with melted chocolate myself. Let me know how it turns out! :)

  • Alisa

    Hello,

    My concern is whether the milk in the Baileys will have a negative to the recipe, as I plan to soak my fruits from today? I’m thinking of Cherry Brandy, Puncheon rum and maybe Baileys as an option.
    Looking forward to your guidance

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Hi Alisa, the Bailey’s never caused me any problems. however i never soaked the fruit in it. It was added in the last stages before baking :) Hope that helps! Best wishes.

  • Alisa

    Hello,

    My concern is whether the milk in the Baileys will have a negative to the recipe, as I plan to soak my fruits from today? I’m thinking of Cherry Brandy, Puncheon rum and maybe Baileys as an option.
    Looking forward to your guidance

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Hi Alisa, the Bailey’s never caused me any problems. however i never soaked the fruit in it. It was added in the last stages before baking :) Hope that helps! Best wishes.

  • ricardo ross

    Dear sir,ihave used your recipe for the black cake .I have double the ingredients to be soaked,The problem is i need to make three cakes and dont know how much of the soaked fruits to decant.

  • ricardo ross

    Dear sir,ihave used your recipe for the black cake .I have double the ingredients to be soaked,The problem is i need to make three cakes and dont know how much of the soaked fruits to decant.

  • Valerie

    My fruit was soaking for over a year because I could not find my old recipe. Thanks to you, I made my cakes over the weekend and they taste just like I remember! Very delicious.

  • Valerie

    My fruit was soaking for over a year because I could not find my old recipe. Thanks to you, I made my cakes over the weekend and they taste just like I remember! Very delicious.

  • Mona P

    I came across you recipe just last month. I beked the cake and by a turn of events I gave one to a collegue who is getting married in June. Her fiance tasted it and is now hinting that he wants me to make his groom’s cake and a sheet cake to feed 250 guests. I have no problem baking the cakes, it’s the frosting and decorating. I don’t do that. I live in New York City. Do you know of anyone in Brooklyn or the Bronx who frosts black cakes?
    Thanks,
    Mona

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      Dear Mona, I will post your question to my readers. Hopefully someone can help you out :) Best Wishes!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      Dear Mona, I am happy to report that the following person is willing to help you out :)

      Hey! I do baked goods, including black cake, wedding cakes, etc. My website for inquiries is www.kimberlyparris.com.

  • Mona P

    I came across you recipe just last month. I beked the cake and by a turn of events I gave one to a collegue who is getting married in June. Her fiance tasted it and is now hinting that he wants me to make his groom’s cake and a sheet cake to feed 250 guests. I have no problem baking the cakes, it’s the frosting and decorating. I don’t do that. I live in New York City. Do you know of anyone in Brooklyn or the Bronx who frosts black cakes?
    Thanks,
    Mona

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      Dear Mona, I will post your question to my readers. Hopefully someone can help you out :) Best Wishes!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      Dear Mona, I am happy to report that the following person is willing to help you out :)

      Hey! I do baked goods, including black cake, wedding cakes, etc. My website for inquiries is www.kimberlyparris.com.

  • http://www.cocoasensations.com/ Andre Nievo

    I just wondered if it is the same as fruitcake?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      Hi Andre, it is quite different from my own conventional experience with fruitcakes which I find to be quite drier and more floury.

  • http://www.cocoasensations.com/ Andre Nievo

    I just wondered if it is the same as fruitcake?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      Hi Andre, it is quite different from my own conventional experience with fruitcakes which I find to be quite drier and more floury.

  • michelle

    Hi, I really wanted to use baileys on this cake, however i miss read the instructions, and i already used 2 bottles of alchohol (one rum, one cherry brandy),, i thought i could add the baileys after i baked the cake instead of the rum… Do you know if this will work? or if being a cream base will it make the cake go bad? . Thankyou so much for your help.. I do hope you get this right away as i am baking it today

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      hi Michelle. I just received your question, I hope the cake came out well! I normally like to soak the fruit in the baileys first, and puree that lightly before baking. I am not sure if pouring it onto the cake after baking will have the same result as I believe that the creaminess of the liqueur could affect the overall colour and result. Do let me know if you proceeded that way and if you were satisfied :) Best Wishes!

  • michelle

    Hi, I really wanted to use baileys on this cake, however i miss read the instructions, and i already used 2 bottles of alchohol (one rum, one cherry brandy),, i thought i could add the baileys after i baked the cake instead of the rum… Do you know if this will work? or if being a cream base will it make the cake go bad? . Thankyou so much for your help.. I do hope you get this right away as i am baking it today

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Trinigourmet Sarina

      hi Michelle. I just received your question, I hope the cake came out well! I normally like to soak the fruit in the baileys first, and puree that lightly before baking. I am not sure if pouring it onto the cake after baking will have the same result as I believe that the creaminess of the liqueur could affect the overall colour and result. Do let me know if you proceeded that way and if you were satisfied :) Best Wishes!

  • jimmy

    hello all.. i am interested in what exactly "mixed spice" are in the recipe!

  • jimmy

    hello all.. i am interested in what exactly "mixed spice" are in the recipe!

  • Helen

    Hi Sarina,

    I haven't posted on you blog in a long time. I have a few questions in regards to the recipe. For the soaking of the fruits, is the bottle of cherry brandy about 750ml to 1 L and is the bottle of rum the same quantity? It seems like a lot, this is why I am asking. Also, do I use all the browning made from the 1 lb of brown sugar and 1/2c water or just a portion of it? If so, how much? How many cakes and what size tins does this recipe yield?

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions.

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

      Hi Helen, thanks for popping by again :)! The bottle of brandy is used at the start of the recipe for soaking the fruit (yes an entire 750ml is used). The bottle of rum is used at the end for soaking the cakes (this recipe makes 2 cakes – 13 inch in diameter each). If this is too much, feel free to halve the recipe :) The entire browning is used as well :) Hope that helps!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina – Trinigourmet

    Hi Helen, thanks for popping by again :)! The bottle of brandy is used at the start of the recipe for soaking the fruit (yes an entire 750ml is used). The bottle of rum is used at the end for soaking the cakes (this recipe makes 2 cakes – 13 inch in diameter each). If this is too much, feel free to halve the recipe :) The entire browning is used as well :) Hope that helps!

  • FMS

    sounds good . I use guiness instead of hot water for the browning

  • Talbit53

    You and I are exactly alike. I learned from my mother, sister and aunt and it is technique. There is one secret I have and will never share with anyone outside the family and it puts my black cake above the rest.

  • Talbit53

    You and I are exactly alike. I learned from my mother, sister and aunt and it is technique. There is one secret I have and will never share with anyone outside the family and it puts my black cake above the rest.

  • http://twitoaster.com/country-tt/trinigourmet/ Trinigourmet

    [New Post] Trinidad Black Cake (recipe) – www.trinigourmet.com/index.php/tr

    • katiemjy

      @Trinigourmet Black cake recipe sounds great! But what do you mean by “mixed spice”?

      • http://twitoaster.com/country-tt/trinigourmet/ Trinigourmet

        @katiemjy packets at xmas time here of a blend of cinammon, clove, nutmeg, anise :) mix ur fave baking spices to sub :)

    • KParrisCooks

      RT @Trinigourmet: [New Post] Trinidad Black Cake (recipe) – www.trinigourmet.com/index.php/tr

    • realchattypatty

      RT @Trinigourmet: [New Post] Trinidad Black Cake (recipe) – www.trinigourmet.com/index.php/tr

  • Pingback: Welcome to 2011!! « marvy on the journey

  • http://Enteryourwebsite... TBT

    My blackcake feel in the center a bit. i cooked it for three hour (a toothpick came out clean when inserted in the center. If this normal? The cake seem to have the right denseness?

    • http://www.SarinaNow.com Sarina

      If the toothpick came out clean you should be fine. The center can get very ‘spongey’ after the pouring of the rum. It seems to take the longest to absorb the liquid. But as everything redistributes and the excess alcohol evaporates it normalizes. That’s been my experience at least :)

  • http://Enteryourwebsite... shahnaz

    can you please give the recipe for a non-alcoholic black cake, I’m Muslim so no alco 4 me but i love non-alcoholic black cake

    • http://uturbina'scakes.com Uturbina

      this is an easy one…..if you cannot use brandy nor rum…you can just use the concentrated cherry syrup.

  • http://uturbina'scakes.com Uturbina

    I have tried this recipe for black cake many many times and it never failed me …it is a definite winner. I love it.

  • http://Enteryourwebsite... Bahn Heah

    Was looking to duplicate a cake I used to get in the VI at Christmas time from a friend who was from Montserrat. This is pretty close. I was kind of nervous as the cost of the ingredients started climbing over $50. I just sampled the cakes, ( I made twelve small 3×5 tins to give a presents ) They are fantastic. Even a friend who is a professional chef told me that she …”could not have done better! “. I made some substitutions as I made these up in the states. I did find my favorite bottle of Cruzan Gold to use for the essential ingredient. Used Figs, Raisins and Dried Cranberries. Thanks for the help.

  • http://Enteryourwebsite... Irene

    This really sounds amazing which ever way you choose to make it, I will be making for the first time the way it is written…Thank you so much and to your Grandma as well!

  • http://Enteryourwebsite... Camille

    www.grouprecipes.com/62494/trinidad-black-cake.html

    this person copied ur recipe word for word not cool…

    -_-

    • http://www.SarinaNow.com Sarina

      Thanks for the headsup Camille!! Really appreciated!

  • http://Enteryourwebsite... Kiev

    I tried this recipe this past Christmas and it turned out really great. My father-in-law, who only eats this type of cake and is somewhat of a connoisseur, gave it his seal of approval. Good job.